When you’re a 22-year-old kid with a freshly inked college diploma in one hand and your first real world job offer in another, it’s easy to dream big. You have your whole life in front of you and your career can take you anywhere. But then, somewhere along the way, distractions filter in and you discover that it’s much harder to stay the course. And, ultimately, it’s how you choose to fight through these rough patches that dictate whether or not you’ll ever accomplish your career goals.
The Challenge of Staying Focused
Focus is something that’s hard to come by in today’s world. Distractions are ever present and overpowering. As a result, attention spans have dwindled to depressing lows and fewer people are able to stay laser-focused on what they want.
Here’s just a small sample of some of the different ways we get sidetracked from our career goals:
- Life happens. Life has a way of getting in the way. For better or worse, marriages, children, houses, bills, and health issues command your attention and leave you with less energy to devote to career goals.
- Changing attitudes. As you grow and mature (personally and professionally), your attitudes change, and your goals have a way of evolving. This leaves you with a bit of a moving target.
- Burnout. Job burnout is a very real thing. And the longer you stay in the same job or field, the more likely it becomes that you’ll grow tired of what you’re doing. This can hurt your chances of pursuing larger goals.
- Greener grass. Sometimes it’s not burnout – you just see another opportunity that looks better or seems more compelling. This can lead to a sudden career pivot.
When you add up all of these challenges and realities, it’s no wonder you feel so misguided and unstable. But thankfully, it’s possible to stay focused in the midst of so much distraction.
5 Powerful Strategies You Can Employ
You aren’t going to accomplish your career goals without a proactive plan that emphasizes discipline and focus. Here are a few suggestions to help you move in a positive direction:
1. Remove Easy Sensory Distractions
Make life easier on yourself by removing and eliminating all sensory distractions that hold you back from being productive on a daily basis. This might look like silencing your phone, logging out of email, buying noise-cancelling headphones, or moving your office to a more secluded location.
2. Deal With Your Personal Life
Work-life balance is important, but that doesn’t mean these two worlds should completely overlap one another. There’s something to be said for separation.
It’s easy for issues like a toxic relationship, parenting troubles, or conflict at home to carry over and impact focus in your career. The smartest thing you can do is deal with your personal life head-on (rather than brush over it or push it to the side). This frees you up to focus on work when you’re “at work.”
3. Make Sure Your Goals are SMART
It’s not enough to set career goals. They need to be SMART career goals. This means setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time related.
While it may seem like a cliché acronym or useless exercise, refining your goals to fit this criteria almost always helps you make progress. It clarifies the outcome in terms that you can grasp right now.
4. Make Goals Visible
It’s one thing to have a goal in your head. It’s far more effective to visualize the goal. Try printing a calendar with specific goals and reminders for each month. Hang it in your office and glance at it on a regular basis. This will remind you of your goals and keep you on the right path.
5. Find Support and Accountability
No matter how disciplined you are or what your past track record shows, you should never fully trust yourself to stick with long-term goals. It’s helpful to surround yourself with people who know your goals and who will hold you accountable for reaching them.
Stay on Track
Don’t let the complications and distractions of life pull you away from your career goals and objectives. With the right approach, you can stay committed and do more than you ever thought possible. Use this article as a starting point to recalibrate and get back on track!