Hope you guys enjoy today’s GUEST POST from my friend McVal! He’s got some AMAZING advice right here!
Although I consider myself a relatively driven person, I must admit that I have a short attention span when it comes to setting clear goals and sticking to a set schedule for accomplishing them. While I may find myself briefly obsessed with a cool idea for a project in the short term, my mind usually wanders if I don’t see steady progress or quickly get what I’m after.
Most millennials have the same problem. They have no shortage of interests, but they have trouble focusing their interests and choosing one goal to stick to over the long run. This is especially true if you’re working on a “passion project” or something that relies on internal motivation for inspiration rather than on a paycheck or a report card.
Here are three traps that I see all the time that prevent millennials from setting better goals and sticking to their passions:
- Too many distractions. The world is a wild and crazy place. You’ve got too many options of things to do, and your friends aren’t helping. FOMO is my favorite name for this trap.
- Lack of focused interest. Maybe you’re good at setting aside “me time” for yourself on a regular basis. Good for you. But how much of that time do you actually spend focusing on one solitary task?
- No reason to take action. The motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “tomorrow is the greatest labor saving device ever invented.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken with millennials that have a fantastic idea but continually put it off “until tomorrow”.
I bet many of you reading this have fallen into at least one of these traps in the last several weeks. That’s all right, because there are things you can do to avoid these traps in the future.
Most young people don’t really know what we want out of life, and we can often find ourselves feeling a little overwhelmed with everything that is going on around us. As humans, we are also driven to try new things and learn from our mistakes. Don’t feel disheartened. Instead, try to follow these five steps that will help you focus your energy and find where your passions lie:
- Reduce the number of outside distractions in your life, and cut out as many decisions as you can to leave more time (and energy) for creative pursuits. I like to think about this step in terms of the environmentalist mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle”. You only have a certain amount of energy to spend on activities throughout the day. By reducing the amount of time you spend on unproductive activities (i.e. netflix, facebook, etc.), you’ll have more energy to dedicate to making big changes happen in your life.
- Spend 30 minutes to an hour thinking about what you want to accomplish in the next 3-6 months (short term goals), and what you want to accomplish in the next year or more (long term goals). This requires the most effort out of all five steps, but it is hands down the most important. Make sure you get rid of all distractions and really focus. I find that the best way to do this is to set aside all of my electronic devices, seclude myself in a quiet place with a blank notepad and pen and write/draw/doodle until I have a good idea of what I want to accomplish.
- Do something. Do anything. Stop thinking and make a move. Humans are programmed to look for ways to avoid work whenever possible, and we are much less likely to take action in an area where we have little or no experience, or if we fear being ridiculed for our work. Still, the only way to improve is through practice, and practice takes action.
- Commit to reviewing your progress on at least a semi-regular basis, whether it’s once a month or once a year. Take note of what worked well, what didn’t, and what you can improve next time around.
- As you make progress on your goals and start to change the way you think about the strategies you implement, take the best practices you’ve developed and translate them to other parts of your life.
These five steps make up the “START” framework. It is similar to the idea behind setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based) goals, and was developed based on extended conversations with millennials all around the world that I felt represented the “gung ho” spirit I hoped to foster in myself. I also read a ton of articles and books on topics related to goal setting and motivation, some of which sucked but a lot that drastically improved my ability to reach my goals.
I put this system in place in my life that I wanted to share with you. It has helped me immensely as I’ve worked to set clearer goals and as I’ve looked for ways to improve my overall level of happiness in my day-to-day life. I think it can help you too.
Many thanks to Kayla for letting me share my ideas with everyone! I hope you found this helpful – and thanks for reading!
P.S. I always love to hear about new and innovative ways that people have managed to inspire, motivate or take action in their day-to-day lives. If you have any stories you’d like to share please shoot me a tweet or an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
McVal Osborne is the author of Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, strategic thinking and how people set goals. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. When he’s not writing or speaking to people about motivation and goal setting, McVal can usually be found going for runs around London or trying to learn how to cook in his kitchen. Connect with him on Instagram and Twitter, or read more of his posts on his blog.
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