How to Focus on One Goal at a Time

August 1, 2020 5 min read No Comments
Artist: Illustrations by Esther
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Trying to do too many things at once has been my biggest hurdle when it comes to learning new habits and achieving my goals. I was looking through my journal entries from last year and it was clear that the reason I couldn’t reach any of my goals was because I was trying to do way too much. I wanted to find a new job, apply for grad school, eat healthier, get in better shape, learn to meditate, create a morning routine, and start a blog. How on earth did I expect to accomplish anything when my energy was being scattered in a million different directions?! Even though I was super clear on what I wanted to accomplish and I took the time to set intentions and break everything down into actionable steps, I was never able to follow through with my goals or the get results I wanted and it was super frustrating.

WHY HAVING TOO MANY GOALS DOESN’T WORK

WE CAN’T Give our goals the energy they need

Achieving a big goal or learning a new habit requires a lot of time, effort and consistency.

If we are focusing on multiple things at the same time we can’t possibly give our goals the attention and effort it requires.

WE ARE TOO IMPATIENT

We want results and we want them now. When we don’t see them right away we tend to give up and make it mean something about ourselves (e.g.”I suck at this”, “I can never follow through”, “I just can’t get the results I want”, etc.). Our logical brain knows that it takes time to make meaningful change yet we get so discouraged after a week or two of trying.

The only way I have been able to see results with my goals whether it’s starting a morning routine, a new workout regime, a detox/ cleanse, starting a blog, or finding a new job, is by choosing to focus on one thing at a time, and throwing everything at it until I have accomplished the results I want.

When I focus on just one goal at a time it helps be practice patience because I know that with consistent effort and small action steps every day I will get results. When I have multiple goals that I am working towards, on the other hand, I get frustrated because I am spreading myself thin, putting in so much energy and time, and not seeing any results at all.

It Creates overwhelm & results in self-sabotage

Trying to focus on multiple goals at one time made me feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

Then I had an AHA moment and realized that being overwhelmed was actually a form of self-sabotage because it gave me the perfect excuse to quit. For example, when things started getting hard and overwhelming I could quit and blame it on the fact that I had too much going on, which made me feel a lot better about myself. On the other hand, if I focused all my energy on just one thing at a time and didn’t see results I would feel like even more of a failure because there was nobody to blame but me.

I realized that setting too many goals at once was keeping me safe because I always had an excuse to quit when things got too much.

The truth is, most of us don’t stick to a goal because we are afraid to fail! The more we put on our plate the more excuses we find not to accomplish them.

Sam Laura Brown has an incredible podcast called the Perfectionism Project and she talks a lot about staying in overwhelm as a form of procrastination. It’s totally eye opening and I recommend you give her a listen if this resonates. When I learned how to narrow down my goals to one thing at a time I could plan better, implement small changes into my day more easily, and avoid overwhelm. For the first time I started seeing results and gained a lot of confidence in myself.

HOW DO WE NARROW DOWN OUR GOALS AND STICK TO ONE THING?

Okay, so focusing on one thing at a time will get us the results we want.

But how do we pick just one thing? Especially when we have a long list of things that we want to achieve.

Marie Forleo has an exercise in her book “Everything is Figureoutable” and it was truly ground breaking for me. It helped me figure out exactly which goal I was going to focus on and how to give that goal 100% of my energy. It was hard at first pick just one thing and put everything else on the sidelines but I was willing to give this technique a try and I have been using it ever since.

JOURNAL PROMPT

  • Make a list of ALL your goals, dreams, aspirations and projects that you are most excited to figure out in the next year.
  • Go through the list and rate each one on a scale of 1-10 based on how important it is for you to accomplish this goal soon. For example, finding a job was something I needed to figure out right away and was the most important to me so I gave that a 10 while learning to meditate was a 7… it was still important to me but it could wait.
  • Of all the goals that scored a 10 and pick just one to focus on. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on all your other goals, but it does mean you have to set them aside for the time being so you can focus all of your energy on the most important thing to you.
  • Once you have narrowed down which goal you are going to pursue, write down the main reasons why this goal is important to you and what difference it would make it your life. How would you feel? Keep digging until you reach the core of what it means to you to achieve this goal.  
  • Has this dream or goal ever been accomplished before? Use a scale from 1 (nobody has ever accomplished this goal. It will be hard as hell) to 5 (many people have figured this out). If this goal has been done before then you can do it too! By the way, difficulty is good. Nothing worth having comes that easily.
  • Have you ever tried to accomplish this goal before? If so, what went wrong? What didn’t work and what will you do differently this time? Good news, if you were the problem you can be the solution.
  • Make your goal S-M-A-R-T. Break your goal down and make sure its measurable.
  • What are 3 things you can do to get started today?

When you have accomplished your goal move on to the next one! It might longer than you would like but I promise that by focusing your energy on one thing at a time you will start to see results.

Remember to ask yourself “What am I Making a Priority” to keep yourself on track.

As always, I would love to hear from you if you have struggled with having too many goals at once and whether this exercise helps you to narrow them down!

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