We’ve all been there. We start something— be it a weight loss program, an exercise plan, or a new hobby— full of drive, passion, and enthusiasm—but can’t seem to stay focused on it for the long haul.
So what’s going wrong, and how can we make it right?
First thing’s first: you have to face facts. While it’s certainly good to have willpower—and cultivate it–you can’t rely solely on the strength of your will to stay focused. Why? There are too many variables, distractions, and barriers to make that a realistic solution.
But don’t get discouraged! Harnessing and maintaining focus throughout your day is completely possible. As long as you’re strategic and intentional in your choices, you can set yourself up for success and stay focused— all day long!
Here are some ways our clients have been able to stay focused on their health and nutrition goals, day in and day out. [We think they can help in lots of other areas of life, too]:
- Overcome Challenges Ahead of Time: Most often, you already know what makes it hard for you to stay focused on your goals. If you can anticipate certain setbacks, you already know the steps you can take to overcome them. For example, if you know that you hit the snooze and fall back asleep instead of waking up on time to go for a morning run, you can move the alarm clock to the dresser or the bookcase, so that you have to get up and turn the alarm off. The odds are far greater that you’ll stay out of bed.
- Environment Matters: If you want to stay focused on eating healthy throughout the day, but you only have TV dinners in your freezer and chips in your pantry, you’re likely to get frustrated. However, some simple changes to your environment: healthy snacks, a variety of options, friends who want to share healthy meals with you, etc. can make a big difference in how focused you are on your goals, and how likely you are to achieve them.
- Have a Full Toolbox: If you want to stay focused on something, have tools and supports around you that help you get it done. If you want to spend 30 minutes a day knitting, don’t commit to that without having knitting needles, guidebooks, and lots of fun yarn. Figure out what tools you need, and have them within arm’s reach before you get started. [If you want to improve your focus on health, nutrition, or weight loss goals— we can help fill your toolbox.]
- Don’t Compare: Comparing ourselves with others—and their progress with or against ours–is one of the worst things we can do for our focus and willpower. Every person, and every journey, is unique. What works for you to accomplish a goal may not work for your partner, your best friend, or your workout buddy. By all means, encourage each other— but don’t keep score.
- Know–and Care for Yourself: Be sure that you set realistic expectations, and don’t beat yourself up if you lose track of your goal now and then. Take things one day at a time, celebrate little victories, and make a plan that plays to your strengths. [If you’re not sure how to set goals, ask a therapist, doctor, or mentor for some tips!]
It’s a lot easier to stay focused all day if you have strategies in place that take setbacks in to account, take steps to counter them ahead of time, and celebrate our wins along the way. Hang in there— you can do it!