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Lighthouse - January, 2016.

Staying Focused

Perhaps you have pondered over the last few weeks if you should make any New Year’s resolutions, but how many of us can remember the ones we made last year? Unless we managed to achieve the outcome we resolved to attain, the chances are we have long since forgotten them. This is unfortunate because setting goals, by making resolutions, does work. The concept has never failed anyone. The only reason failure occurs is because the person, who may easily be you or me, has chosen to give up. What has let us down is our inability to stay focused. Research supports the view that over 78% of those making meaningful goal setting resolutions failed to stay focused and gave up.

For this reason, when setting any targets or goals, we have to accept that focus may become an issue and make plans accordingly to help us keep on track. There seems to be evermore distractions which demand our attention and steer us away from being focused. Our particular goal setting may be seen as unusual, so even our friends often want us to conform to what they see as normal. “Go on another piece of cream cake won’t harm you”. “You’ve been to the gym twice this week, time for you to have some fun”. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – come on give yourself a break”. Perhaps they do not appreciate your need to stay focused when you have set yourself goals? The most important person when it comes to deciding this is YOU. Sometimes we need to put ourselves first and for many this is not an easy attitude to accept. Recall, if you will, what a flight attendant tells passengers before take-off.

‘If the oxygen masks deploy you should secure your own before attempting to help others with theirs.’ After all, unless you are getting enough oxygen, how can you help them? There are times when you have to stay focused on yourself because only when your needs are met are you able to help anyone else.

It was some fifteen years ago that a former Apple and Microsoft Executive coined the term, ‘continuous partial attention”, to describe the modern predicament of being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything. How, in such an environment can anyone hope to stay focused? Today’s generation seem to have even more distractions, steering them away from being focused. Personally I cannot understand how someone can give an issue their full attention when holding a face to face conversation whilst at the same time juggling their mobiles, texting and allowing them to be interrupted by calls.

There are numerous ways to help stay focused but my favourite is to create a vision board made with a collage of pictures and slogans that represent my goals and dreams. I make sure I display it in a prominent place so as to remind me. When I set myself a weight loss target, I put a picture of a lean and toned guy, the same age as myself, on my fridge door. When planning a campaign I find pictures of winning situations, coupled with cryptic words, and mount them on a board near to my office desk.

To succeed you have to develop a mind-set which sees you attaining your goal. You also have to limit the number of goals that you set in order not to spread yourself too far. Ideally picking one to three goals and sticking to them, is usually a realistic target for most of us. It is also crucial that you do not bother yourself with other goals until you have achieved those you have already set. Of course the proviso to this, if your priorities shift and your goals no longer reflect what you want, is a reassessment is required.

Oprah Winfrey, American media proprietor, TV show host, actress and philanthropist tells us we should, “Take five minutes to centre yourself in the morning – set your intention every day”. Obviously this routine has worked well for Oprah and it is an appropriate start for our day if we wish to move forward, achieving our goals. Nevertheless, without determination and dedication, it is easy to be detracted from staying focused. This why my New Year’s resolution was; “Procrastinate more – Starting tomorrow! “

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