Lately I have been seeing a 'not very good' pattern in my day-to-day business dealings, and I want to see if you can identify ....
I wake up, nice and early, have breakfast, get dressed, think about all the exciting things I'm going to do today, visualise myself working with focus and consistency, confident that I will get done everything that needs to get done.
Reality = I sit down at my computer, switch it one, take a sip of my tea as it boots up, and then .... mind blank.
Suddenly a kazillion thoughts are running through my head, I find myself starting one thing and then getting disastrously distracted by something else; I keep on looking at the clock and getting frustrated that an hour has passed and I have essentially achieved nothing. Sitting back, I feel confused ... I never used to feel like this when working towards dreams and goals ... in fact I used to be the Queen of clarity and focus. I have dreams, but I'm feeling lost in how I am to go about achieving them ... and this is where I feel vulnerable ... cause I'm meant to be the expert in mapping your goal journey, and yet here I am, not knowing which way to turn or which dream to pursue first.
I have been in PANIC mode (queue pressing red emergency button of potential failure and defeat).
What the hell has happened to my brain?!? Where has what I learnt as an elite athlete and Uni student gone?
I realised this morning that I am in overwhelm, that I have so many dreams and goals running around my head that I don't know which way is up, and that these thoughts are causing me to have a "deer in headlights" moment. In this confusion I am so paralysed with fear of failure that I am getting nothing done that needs to be done in working towards my goals - which becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. I can't let this prophecy come true.
Can you feel it? Have you been experiencing this also? I feel for you if you have, cause I'm there too.
So what do I do? What can you do?
Overwhelm can be ... well, overwhelming. That feeling of being frazzled as you try to juggle so many thoughts, ideas, activities, and opportunities, can end up being your worst enemy in succeeding. To counteract this imbalance of focus I have looked back at what it is I did when I was training to swim at the Paralympics, what was it I did when setting my sights on 1st Class Honours at University, and I realised what it was that got me to focus - clarity. In both those instances I was so clear on what it was that I wanted to achieve in my life that every thought and every action was geared towards achieving this. So, my solution to my current moment of overwhelm is to clarify exactly what it is that I want to achieve now, next year, and in the future, and ensure that my actions are true to these focused goals.
ACTIONS FOR YOU.
1. Cut through the clutter and really minimise your goals to the essentials. Out of all of your goals, what is it that you most want to achieve? i.e., here are a few of mine after cutting the clutter - 1. book 5 pilot primary schools and 5 high schools for the RWS programme, 2. book 50 schools onto the RWS programme within a year, 3. reach a minimum monthly income of £..., 4. increase book sales to 20 books a month. Get rid of the rest, just drop them like hot potatoes, if they are that important too you, they will appear again in the future at a time when you can focus on them.
2. Write your clear goals down on the Goals Worksheet (you can download the worksheet below). The worksheet divides your goals into weekly goals, monthly goals, and yearly goals. Decide what timeframe you have for each goal and put it in the appropriate column, this will help to keep your brain uncluttered and will also give you the clarity to "forget" about some goals for the time being, letting you focus on the here and now.
3. Now that I have clarified my goals and have given them a timeframe, I am now going to map the journey, breaking down each step into edible bites (or actionable actions). This can take awhile, so it would be good to dedicate an afternoon to the mapping. As I map mine I will let you know what I have done and how you can do it too ... stay tuned.
Here is the Goals Worksheet for you to download -
Me with some of my amazing teammates!
Yep, so, I never actually won a Paralympic Gold Medal. Nope, didn't do it ... but I wasn't aiming to do it either.
When I set my goal to compete at the Paralympic games, well, that was it, that was my goal - to compete at the 2000 Paralympic Games, it wasn't to win a medal at the Paralympic games, I just wanted the opportunity to have that experience in life. I did have that experience, twice!, and it was priceless. The games was always more than the medal tally, it was the challenge, the team atmosphere, the joint effort, the travel, the different swimming pools, meeting so many different people from all over the world, it was the whole experience and not just a small part of it.
Now I'm sure most of you know that I did win 3 Paralympics medals, a silver and two bronzes, but these in themselves were bonuses, surprises, lovely added on extra's to the experience, but I have never been bothered that not one of these medals is a gold.
We live in a world where to be considered valued and successful we have to be the best at everything we do - you have to be the best student, the best runner, the best friend, the best mother, the best speaker, the best entrepreneur, the best scientist, the best builder, etc, etc, but to be truly valued as a person, to live a truly successful and happy life, doesn't mean you have to be the best. In fact, in trying to bet the best all the time, you are so focused on one particular goal and outcome, that you can miss the beauty of the journey to get there. In being so one eyed about life you can miss the surprising opportunities that arise when you are treading the path to achievement.
It's a matter of stepping back from the need to be "the best" and instead focus on being "the learner."
You see, for me, what was most important on my journey to the Paralympics, was the actual journey (and within that the journeys that I actually took all over Australia and the world). The biggest gift the Paralympics and swimming gave me was not my medals (though I am very proud of them and thankful that I won them), but my love of traveling, my appreciation of hard work, and the lifelong friends that I made. These things that are intangible, I can't pick them up and hold them like my medals, but I can "feel" them and "see" them reflected in my everyday life, experiences and connections that have held me in good stead when pursuing other goals and dreams.
So I ask you this ... what goal are you so focused on right now that you can't see the wood for the trees? And how can you step back and actually slow time, so you can start to appreciate the journey a little more and start to see the experiences and opportunities that are arising each fresh day? (let me know in the comments below)
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright