Getting back on track when you’ve been distracted from your goal can feel like a challenge, especially if you’re down on yourself for losing focus or wasting time. However, everyone gets off track from time to time, and sometimes wasted time is just your mind or body claiming a needed break. No matter how long you’ve been unfocused – whether it’s been a few hours or a few years – you can refocus on your goal.
How You Can Get Back on Track
While it seems difficult, refocusing on your goals is actually pretty simple. All you need is a positive attitude and a desire to resume progress. With motivation, you can immediately start making progress again and gain the momentum you need to continue working toward your goal. Once you’ve set your mind on resuming progress, you can take the steps toward making that happen.
Step #1-Recount your latest accomplishments.
One of the challenges of getting back on track is getting over the negative feelings of getting off track, wasting time, and/or failing to meet your own expectations. Start by reminding yourself of the good you’ve done toward your goal. If you’ve had to take time from your goals to work on something else, list those accomplishments as well. Tell yourself that what you’ve been doing instead of working on your goal has been necessary for where you are in life. Maybe you needed a break or time to focus your mind on other things. This will remind you of the work you’ve done and provide you with a positive perception of your work ethic and progress.
- List everything you’ve done toward your goal, even the tiny things.
- Reflect on what caused you to become distracted.
- Reframe your recent activities to make them more positive.
Step #2-Minimize distractions.
Distractions come in many forms and are usually what’s to blame when you find yourself off track. You may find yourself losing time to activities like binging on Netflix or playing video games, or you may be overburdening your schedule by saying “yes” to too many things. Either way, it distracts you from your goal. Take a break from your distractors to give you time to reset your work habits. Even having a brief amount of time set aside to get back to work can help you refocus your thoughts and get back on track.
- Create a supportive work environment.
- Set aside a short work time and stick to it.
- Eliminate things that don’t support your progress.
Step #3-Check off an easy task.
When you feel like you’ve gotten behind, progress can seem impossible. Sometimes this feeling of losing ground can prevent you from getting back on track. Get refocused by completing something easy that helps you make progress toward your goal. This could be as simple as one step of a larger process, but it will still help you make a little progress. This will give you a feeling of accomplishment to help you keep going.
- Break down a larger task and do the first step.
- Make a to-do list, then check off the easiest thing.
- Choose something you can do in less than half an hour, then make a point to tell someone who supports you about your progress to reinforce the feeling of success.
Step #4-Flex your muscles.
If you’ve taken a break from something, then you may feel out of practice. Kick that feeling to the curb by spending some time doing that activity. Don’t worry about doing a good job, and don’t compare yourself to where you were the last time you did it. Just flex those muscles a bit and try to get back into the habit of doing it. Soon you’ll be back on track.
- Give yourself permission to have a “practice” session that doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Focus on quantity and not quality. (i.e. write a lot of iffy words instead of one good paragraph, walk a few miles rather than running less than a mile, or sketch a lot of drawings rather than trying to paint a masterpiece.)
- Celebrate the fact that you started again, even if the results didn’t go as you expected.
Step #5-Focus on moving forward and not on past mistakes.
Don’t waste your time stressing about what you could have done better in the past, or how much time you may have wasted when you could have been making progress toward your goals. You can’t change the past, so all you’re doing is making yourself miserable in the present. Instead, chalk up your past mistakes to lessons learned, and focus on building a future that makes you happy. Today can go well, and tomorrow you can keep on track. This is where your thoughts should be.
- Use positive self-talk to reinforce your intentions to move forward.
- Think about the positive steps that you are taking now.
- Don’t try to punish yourself for past mistakes.
Getting back on track is possible, no matter how long you’ve been distracted from your goal. If something is important to you, then you deserve time to work toward that goal. Give yourself permission to resume progress. With a little effort now, you’ll start seeing progress again in no time.
How do you get back on track after getting distracted from your goals?