How To Stay Focused On Your Goals Even When Life Smacks You In the Face
Last week I experienced one of those times where I was riding high, getting my to-do list done, planning workouts for clients, hitting my goals, and then BAM.
Life threw me a curve ball.
One that’s still hanging out with me this week.
Long story short, I had to rush my 18 year old cat to the vet for an emergency appointment. The x-ray didn’t help them identify what they were feeling so my old man cat is heading back in at the end of the week for an ultrasound.
Here’s the kicker, we were supposed to leave for a vacation on Wednesday.
Now our plans are a bit in the air.
Trying to figure out how to make everything work with Oscar, adjusting plans, and facing the reality of his age…
At 18 years old, he’s about 88-90 human years old.
It threw me for a hell of a loop. Caused my stress to skyrocket.
What do stress + autoimmune condition create?
The potential for an autoimmune flare.
I could feel it bubbling below the surface, inside my body, just waiting for me to hit the right levels of anxiety, stress and fatigue.
I definitely felt the beginning symptoms of a flare brewing by the end of the week.
I want to share with you how I keep going when my anxiety, stress levels, and autoimmune condition all interfere with my plans.
And you might notice some similarities to another tip I gave you just the other week…
How To Stay Focused When Life Throws Curve Balls
Set a Schedule
Setting a schedule is definitely one of the most important things you can do to help yourself stay focused on the things you can control.
Identify the 3 most important to-dos
Every week I set 3 goals for myself and then each day I have 3 tasks to make sure that I achieve those 3 goals by the end of the week.
When I’m stressed or have an autoimmune flare, those are the only tasks I aim to do all day.
I have a running list of other projects/tasks that I can work on but only when I’m having one of those crazy productive days/weeks where nothing can stop me.
Workout / Move More
Moving more is important to help the body combat stress. It doesn’t mean you need to add a workout that leaves you lying in a puddle of sweat. I mean walk or ride a bike before each meal. Doesn’t need to be super intense, in fact more mindful exercise can help alleviate stress better.
Eat Healthier and drink water over other drinks (coffee, tea, beer/wine)
We are a direct reflection of the quality of the food we eat and drink. Skip the ice cream comfort food and opt for a homemade sorbet. (Try it, all you need is a food processor or high speed blender: 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit, ¼ cup maple syrup, optional, and ½ cup - 1 cup filtered water. Blend until smooth. Pop in a container and freeze for 2 hours or until chilled. Scoop and serve!)
Unplug the TV and log out of social media
I’m serious about this one. When you are feeling anxiety or stress, limit your tv and social media use. There are so many studies out there that show our 24/7 access to world and local events, the perfect life-lie on social media has a huge psychological impact. Unplug for a few days, your brain will thank you.
Use a “focus” app (I use RescueTime)
Focus apps are similar to the strategy above, focus apps help you by blocking certain apps and websites during your work day or specific hours. These types of apps can be very useful if you are easily distracted. The trick of course is remembering to actually use the app. (I’ve linked my referral link to rescue time and may receive a credit if you sign up.)
Stick to a consistent sleep schedule / wake time
Blocking out a consistent sleep schedule is important whether you’re having a crazy week or not. Sleep helps the body reset hormones, heal from inflammation/infection, repair the body's cells, and most importantly destress. You should always aim for a consistent schedule but its even more important when you are under added stress and anxiety.
Time Block your work day / To-Dos
Another favorite tool of mine is time blocking, blocking the day out for certain tasks at certain times. Humans crave consistency and time blocking is really a great way to give yourself that. I routinely block off 60-90 minute intervals to tackle my 3 top tasks that need to be accomplished. After a few weeks of time blocking, you’ll get very efficient at tackling your to do list.
Tackle some random cleaning/organizing task(s) you’ve been avoiding
Maybe it’s just me, but a solid deep clean (or even weeding) really soothes my soul and brain. I’ve got one of those bathrooms with super small tiles and tons of grout lines...I’ve been known to take an old toothbrush to it because the grout never seems to get clean with my regular mopping.
Read a book or listen to a podcast (something educational)
Do something that challenges your mind. Read a book or listen to a podcast that helps you grow. I don’t mean deep dive into the 70K+ self help books on Amazon, I mean listen to something that inspires you and teaches you something new. Here’s a favorite podcast of mine: How I Built This With Guy Raz, by NPR. With episodes ranging from less than 30 minutes to a little over an hour, these podcasts are great backgrounds one how some of our favorite brands and companies started, struggled, and succeeded.
Listen to music that calms or relaxes you
Not all of us find the same music relaxing, but when you are stressed or finding yourself very scattered, listen to some music that you know will help you focus or calm down. I use Amazon Music because they have 100+ channels of “free” music for prime members and can always find something.
Get outside during day light
The sun is very healing, in fact it was forced upon tuberculosis patients at the turn of the century. The doctors at the time noticed that fresh air and sunlight seemed to help “cure” the patients. What they didn’t quite understand at the time was the connection between sunlight and the production of vitamin D. Vitamin D is associated with lower inflammation levels and not just with TB, but with almost all other health infections and conditions, including autoimmune, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. So get outside. If you plan on being outside longer than 20 minutes, be sure to slather on some sunblock.
Funny how my secret formula to actually achieving your goals and my #1 tip to staying focused when life gets wonky is the same thing:
Set a Schedule.
If you take anything away from this email, it's that schedules help us tackle just about anything.
Life is challenging, things don't go to plan all the time. It's been a long week for me with the unexpected curveball, named Oscar Wildecat, thrown at me!
Luckily, I have these tips in mind so that I can stay focused on what really matters. What are your favorite ways to stay focused on your goals when life gets in the way? Comment below and share!