Stay Focused On Your Goals

Four ways to help you stay focused on your goals

When you repeatedly lose your ability to stay focused on your personal goals, it’s easy to become discouraged to the point of giving up.

But science tells us there are specific reasons why you stop focusing on your goals. 

When you understand better the reasons that you aren’t focusing on your goals, you’ll be better equipped to overcome the obstacles that hold you back.

Perhaps your goals are too ambitious, or maybe they are not ambitious enough, or it could be that they don’t represent your true ambition. It’s also possible that past failures have made you stop believing in yourself and your future success.

Unfortunately, as people get older, they have more defeats. They feel less inclined to keep striving in life and finding new challenges to overcome.

To achieve your goals, you certainly need to follow all of the customary advice like narrowing down the number of goals you’re focusing on, writing down your goals, and measuring and documenting your progress.

But if your difficulty is focusing on your goals, you must find an approach that’s connected to your passion, your emotions, and your sense of purpose.

Here are four ways to help you stay focused on your goals.

1. Practice being radically sincere

Arnold Schwarzenegger famously began his ambitious fitness aspirations with a crop top that exposed his flabby abs.

As a device to stay focused on his goal, he wore a short, tight shirt to reveal his ample belly. Brutally forcing himself to confront his problem — being overweight —  in an embarrassing and public way, Schwarzenegger transformed his body and eventually became one of the best bodybuilders of all time.

This is a great example of how being radically sincere works. Be completely concrete, act with fundamental honesty and face your reality. With this intense approach, you’ll find whatever information you need, and you’ll be naturally motivated to succeed.

Schwarzeneggers’ approach may be too intense for you but—regardless of your style—it’s important to be honest about the reality of your talent, your capability, and your willingness to pursue what you want. 

Looking at brutal facts

“Productive change begins when you confront the brutal facts”  – Jim Collins

Jim Collins’ related approach is called “looking at brutal facts”.

Looking at the brutal facts is clearly seeing the facts of your situation. It is the flip side of your vision. 

When we set goals, we allow ourselves to dream.

Creativity, passion, and vision are vitally important. But if your goal isn’t based on reality then it can’t be achieved. And worse, a dream can demotivate us by becoming a delusional, false hope—a fiction we believe in in order to fool others or feel better about ourselves. 

On the other hand, you must dream about something more—a possibility that doesn’t yet exist. Therefore, you must believe in your outcome—your dream—while at the same time keeping grounded in the “brutal facts.”

In short, your dream shouldn’t overwhelm the facts, and facts shouldn’t overwhelm your dream. Therefore, you must learn to live in paradox. Jim Collins has named this paradox “The Stockdale Paradox,”, which he describes as the ability to: “have unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.“

When you are radically sincere you have the honesty to face reality, look at the brutal facts, recognize whatever it is that stands in the way of achieving your goals and at the same time maintain 100% confidence in your success.

2. Discover your deep connection to your goal

If you can’t focus on your goal — if it feels vague, or your enthusiasm for it is weak, chances are you aren’t emotionally engaged enough with it. It’s likely a goal that someone else told you is good, or worthwhile, but it’s not coming from your true self. So, naturally, you don’t care much about it.

Also, it’s probably not a goal if you can’t remember what it is. Or maybe it’s not your goal — it could be someone else’s goal, coming from social pressure, or a kind of debt, like a personal obligation.

One way to test if your goal is yours is to ask yourself why you want to achieve it. How will your life be different when you succeed with your goal? What’s important about achieving your goal right now?

If the goal is your goal, you should have an obvious internal motivation. You should want to do it. And you’ll know what’s driving you to succeed.

Intrinsic motivation

The internal sense of purpose that connects you to your goal is called intrinsic motivation. And if you don’t have this internal drive, then there are a couple of things you can do. 

The first option is to embark on a journey of self-discovery.

Because intrinsic motivation is one of your most powerful tools for achieving your goal, it’s worthwhile to get to the bottom of what’s driving you—of what you really want your life to be. What are your core values? What is your purpose in life?

Find this deep connection to your vision and purpose. Then protect, nurture, and develop it.

Ideally, your emotional connection to your goals is so strong it compels your attention. Buddhism uses the image of a man with his hair on fire running to extinguish the flames on his head to convey the sense of urgency one ought to have in attaining a personal goal.

But if you don’t have driving ambition for your goal, it’s okay. There are ways to get there.

One way is to evaluate if your life purpose is supported by your goal. You may discover that your life’s purpose is at odds with a goal you are trying to achieve, in which case you may need to reevaluate your goals and pivot.

If you’re not sure what your purpose is, one place to start is to take the Greater Good Purpose in Life Quiz. 

Evaluating your life purpose and finding your internal motivation may not be a good option for you. Your goal could be personally uninspiring and still necessary to achieve, as a work goal.

If this is the case, you will need to find other ways to stay motivated and focused on your goal. You can do this by reframing your goal as a means to achieving a goal that you’re more passionate about. Remembering, for example, that going to work for income fulfills your deeper passion to support your family or to pursue creative pursuit. Such a mental adjustment is called reframing.

3. Pursue your goal for the people you love

It’s hard to focus on your goal if you don’t have intrinsic motivation, but you can stay focused instead by developing your emotional connection to other people or an individual person.

For you, personalizing the goal may be the way to emotionally connect to the goal in order to achieve it. 

You may decide that you are losing weight to be healthier for your kids, or that you want to acquire wealth to take care of your best friend or your spouse in old age. 

As an inventor, you may have a product and that you want to succeed so that people all over the world can benefit from it.

If you form an emotional connection between your goals and the people you care about, your emotional connection will help you.

Your love for those people will help you fall in love with your goal. Make that love the center of your adoring attention. 

4. Vividly feel and see your goal

Now that you have learned how to stay focused on your goal by deepening your emotional connection to it, you can move on to learning how to visually conceptualize your goal.

Creating a specific vision for your goal is important so that the goal holds your attention.

Like a good story, specificity in goal-setting is key. 

You’ll tend to slip off of non-specific goals like a rock climber climbing polished granite because there are no crevices to hold onto. The details of your vision provide the vitality your mind needs to care about the story.

You have to create a picture—a story—immediately accessible to your mind as well as to the minds of everyone involved in your goal.

People can get caught up in spreadsheets, numbers, and all kinds of ways to quantify and track a goal. And if you are a numbers person, that’s great, because numbers create a picture. Always be sure your numbers create a compelling story.

Create the details to fill out your goal

Hard Goals author Mark Murphy has a technique for creating details to fill out your goal with vivid descriptions so that you can feel it and see it.

He recommends starting with a mental picture and he has a few rules for making this picture.

First, think only about the pictorial representation of the goal. Once you have that picture then, start adding details to fill it out. He recommends that you focus on size, color, shape, distinct parts, setting, background, emotions, and movement. 

Here are few examples:

Size: How big is everything in your picture? Are you living in a one-bedroom beach house bungalow or a resort-style 15-room mansion with two kitchens?

Color: What colors do you see? Color is emotionally evocative and can alter the mood of your picture dramatically.

Shape: What shapes do you see? Shapes can also influence the emotions of your picture. Circles are harmonious, squares are solid and reliable.

This exercise is very powerful because it is the first step in bringing your goal to life in a participatory way. You can begin to see and feel yourself achieving and believing in your desired outcome.

Creativity researcher, Paul Torrance discovered that one of the most exhilarating human experiences is the dazzling moment when a new image of your future self appears. 

You can use this exhilarating vision to stay focused on your goals and sustain yourself through any difficulties that arise.

What’s next? 

Don’t overlook this final step!

Especially if things feel slow on the way to achieving your goals: set up your accountability structures to get where you are going as fast as possible.

Having a structure in place with regular check-ins and accountability helps you see if you are progressing. Regular check-ins with a life coach or other accountability partner will put your progress into perspective. Here are three great ways to create a reliable accountability structure for yourself:

  1. Seek out an accountability partner. This is someone who keeps you accountable and encourages and guides you. Working with a coach relating to your goals has been shown to be more effective than managing them on your own, or relying on a supportive community.
  2. Share your goals with a supportive community. This step will boost your confidence and give you even more accountability.
  3. Write down your goals and track them regularly. Checking daily, weekly, monthly as needed with a project management program or a calendar will help you to stay organized and on track.
  4. All of the above. Getting all of your accountability structures in place will keep you focused on your goal.

If you remember one thing from reading this article, let it be this:

Passion + Accountability = Success

If you want to stay focused on your goals, find a way to stay deeply connected to an emotional driver that generates the passion you need for success.

Then, develop your accountability structures and keep them in place so that you will have the support and order you need to turn your passion into reality.

In short, this is your winning combination: passion + accountability that keeps you focused on your goals so that you successfully achieve them.

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6 Reviews on Bodhi Heart

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Joshua Levy
Joshua Levy
I have bee seeing Soken for while now. If you have some sort of lingering physcial malady go see him, don't wait. He's pretty busy and it might take some time to get in so call right now. Some of my injuries and pain that I have had for years have been greatly relieved by his rolfing work and he's also just a great human being. I would totally go see him for his other services as well. Rolfing doesn't need to be super intense though it can be. He will calibrate to what you need
Philippa Newman
Philippa Newman
I cannot recommend Soken highly enough. He will literally transform your life. I first came to meet Soken for his Rolfing services when I had been living with unbearable lower back pain for over a year. Numerous visits to doctors, various x-rays and months of physical therapy later, I was no better off and desperate to find an alternative solution. Having read about Rolfing as a technique, I discovered Soken's practice in NYC. I am now back pain free and able to do things I thought no longer possible. As I learned more about Soken during our Rolfing sessions, I became interested in his spiritual life coaching /contemplative guidance program. His carefully tailored program has given me enormous insight, and I am a better person, mother and leader as a result. Soken has a calming, peaceful and reassuring presence, and I am extremely grateful to have met him when I did.
A Rice
A Rice
Soken is an amazing coach that will get to the essence of your issues. Difficult issues seem to become easier handle talking to Soken. He is a great coach to have, especially in these times. He is clear and ensures you leave each session with an understanding and a plan of action.
Maya Kumits
Maya Kumits
I’ve been going to Soken for years for my bodywork and sending everyone I know to him too. The work he does with his hands is incredible - I cannot say enough good things. This review, however, is for life coaching. I was faced with a decision recently that I was having trouble making. I was going in circles. I kept changing my mind because I ultimately had no idea what to do. I felt lost and confused. I reached out to Soken for help and was so glad I did. After struggling for weeks trying to figure out the right thing to do, a 1-hour call with him gave me the clarity I needed. By answering a series of thoughtful questions and hearing my answers reflected back to me, I was able to untangle the signal from the noise. By the end of the call, the answer revealed itself. It’s been a few weeks since our call and I still feel great about the decision. I’m so grateful to Soken for helping me with this and won’t hesitate to reach out again for more life coaching.
Marni Gordon
Marni Gordon
I highly recommend Soken as he's a fantastic coach! Soken really helped me set clear goals and measures, helped me to get to insight, and ensures that I have a strong action plan with accountability in every session. Soken's coaching helped me overcome the fear of taking the next step. Soken is sensitive and provides compassionate support through the process.
faraz khan
faraz khan
Soken is an exceptionally intelligent person who seems to understand any multiple of bodily issues. I've been struggling with a reoccurring injury the past few years, and already after the first session I can sense a lot of good has been done. I highly recommend him to anyone 😊
Shonni Silverberg
Shonni Silverberg
I got to know Soken as a client of his Rolfing practice, where his expertise was immeasurably valuable in treating my plantar fasciitis. During the COVID crisis, Soken introduced me to meditation. Practicing under his guidance has been extremely helpful in these turbulent times. Shonni J. Silverberg, M.D., New York, NY
Anaina Mascovich
Anaina Mascovich
The meditation guidance and talk last night was phenomenal. I have had instruction on Metta meditation before, but your explanation offered so much wisdom and direct understanding. Much Gratitude to You Soken.
Lena Elkousy
Lena Elkousy
This review is long overdue, and I would give 10 stars if I could. I cannot recommend Soken's work highly enough. Rolfing is an investment in my physical and emotional health that I wish I had made long ago. To put it quite simply, Soken has changed my life. When we work together, he listens to what I say and what my body says, and works with me right where I am. He is a true healer. In our first series of sessions, he permanently relieved shoulder/neck pain and unfurled a chronic knot that no amount of years of deep tissue massage could even touch. One side of my ribcage was bound with fascia and scar tissue from physical and emotional trauma, to the point that I couldn't breathe into my lower right lung without feeling cramping in surrounding muscles. Over a few sessions, he set me free, and you can actually see the difference in the shape of my ribs. In a series other sessions, he relieved sharp cramping in my feet that I've dealt with since childhood. As a yogi and meditator myself, I find Soken's integrative approach quite profound. Do yourself a favor and an act of self love: and go see this wizard.
Stella Nyla Jules
Stella Nyla Jules
Soken has been transformational in improving and diminishing the increasing pain in my neck and shoulder that traditional physical therapies failed to resolve. His patience, caring, and intuition are top notch.


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