How to Stay Focused on Your Career Goals When Life Gets Stressful
If you’re feeling distracted and losing focus right now, you’re not alone.
There’s plenty of fear out there with economic uncertainty and geopolitical conflicts to worry about, not to mention things closer to home like budget cuts, hiring freezes and mortgage rates going up.
But fear – especially about things beyond your control – drains your energy. Worse yet, it distracts you from the important goals that deserve your focus.
When the world feels uncertain and tense, you don’t have to lose focus
With all the negative news, it’s natural to want to keep your head down, play it safe and put your bigger goals aside to preserve what you have. But don’t do it!
Instead, here are three things you can do to stay focused on your goals and not get distracted by the fear and tension around you. Best of all, you can do these on your own, right now, without anyone’s permission and no matter what else is happening.
1. Understand the difference between your thoughts and your attention
Your thoughts are things, like the furniture in a room. Thoughts naturally pop into your mind, but they aren’t who you are. You’re the one observing the thoughts. That’s why they say you can't help the first thought that comes into your mind, but as the saying goes, you can help what you do with it.
Attention is different. It’s not a thing. Attention is the part of you that is aware of your thoughts. And you can point your attention to whichever thoughts and feelings you want.
So make sure you choose what you pay attention to wisely. When the world provides negative distractions, it’s time to focus your precious attention on the thoughts, situations and ideas that serve you well.
What will you choose to pay attention to?
2. Stop doing the things that bring you down
Managing your energy is critical to your success in your career and life. And one of the things that puts your goals at risk are the habits and distractions that drain your energy and leave you farther away from achieving what you want.
So identify the things you do that trigger you to think and behave in a way that’s unhelpful, or even trigger you to be at your worst. Especially the things you find hard to resist doing. These are candidates for what to stop doing.
For me, the thing I’ve decided to stop doing is mindlessly “doom scrolling” through my news feed. The more I read, the more depressed I feel. Then suddenly, half an hour has gone by, and I’m no closer to my goals but feel worse about myself.
What’s your equivalent to my “doom scrolling” that you’ll stop doing?
3. Start doing more of the things that lift you up
A great way to boost your positive energy is to replace your “doom scrolling” equivalent with something that lifts you up instead. It can be something simple as long as it’s something you enjoy and find energizing.
For me, what I find really uplifting are two things. One is going to the gym. It’s my “happy place” so I go on a regular basis. For you, it might be something completely different, like painting, playing a musical instrument, or taking your dog for a walk.
The other thing that’s been lifting me up lately is listening to an audiobook called The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. This is my third round listening to this audiobook! When I need a good dose of uplifting, I pop in my earbuds and listen to whatever chapter I happen to be on. It helps calm me down and help me stay focused.
What’s uplifting to you that you can start doing now?
Focus on what will make your life and career better
In this time of unease and uncertainty, it’s important to stay focused on the goals and aspirations that matter most for you.
Don't let the negativity from other people, the news, or anywhere else, bring you down. Instead, double down on what brings you positive energy so you can stay focused.
And as you do, remember these three steps:
- Understand the difference between your thoughts and attention – focus your attention on the positive.
- Stop doing the things that bring you down – don’t let your equivalent of “doom scrolling” make you lose focus on what matters most.
- Start doing the things that lift you up – the positive energy will help you stay focused.
So, what are the things that you are going to stop doing and start doing?
Leave me a comment. I'd love to hear from you.