In my last blog post, I posed the question ‘why do you do what you do?’  Today my question is ‘How do you keep yourself on track?’

The challenge 

Many of us get distracted or bored easily.

I’m amazed at my capacity to go off on tangents and get myself distracted.  I segue from one thought pattern to another and before you know it I’m working on something unrelated to my initial goal.  I really am very good at this.  But I’ve learned I’m not alone in this area.  Having interviewed an enormous number of candidates and clients over the years I have come to realise that many people can’t stick to the plan.  The discipline to focus and keep to the path is a real skill.

Other people get bored easily and lose focus.  They struggle to deal with routine once the excitement and challenge of the early stages of a project or task are complete.  Often they never finish what they started.  More enticing ideas or work prospects pull them away from completing the task at hand.  Or in the case of a gentleman I’ve worked with for many years, mischief takes over and he can’t help himself but digress and engage in some distracting activity (but he does pay me every month so I really can’t complain!).

Clarity of purpose

A key issue that relates directly to this is clarity of purpose.  Lack of clear goals can be a cause to losing focus.  On the other hand regularly referring to SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-framed) can remind you of your purpose and bring clarity to what you need to do.

With the new financial year having recently begun, now is a great time to really absorb your goals for the year ahead and mentally ‘own’ them. If you are unclear on the purpose of your role and what you need to achieve, speak to your leader and find out.  You certainly won’t meet the expectations of your organisation if you don’t fully appreciate why your position exists.

Commitment to achieve 

A clear understanding of your role is only part of the puzzle.  A commitment from you to achieve your goals is where the rubber really meets the road.  Without a determination to exceed your expectations you won’t get far.

I’ve been fortunate to work with some tremendously high performers and the thing that, in my opinion, sets them apart from others is a strong commitment to achieve their goals (which are nearly always far greater than their employers expectations).  Their personal pride drives them to go over and above and do more.  The harder they work the luckier they get.

Failure is only one temptation away 

Temptation is all around us.  Coffee invitations from colleagues, websites with enticing links, emails popping into your inbox, text messages pinging on your phone, laughing coming from down the hall, fire engine sirens wailing down the street… temptation to be distracted away from your work is everywhere.

Other organisational distractions such as a new supervisor, news of an upcoming restructure, talk of a merger or takeover, or a new IT system can also tempt you away from your goals.

But beware.  Failure to keep to the task can lead to time lost and before you know it your plan for the day is blown to pieces and you are no closer to meeting your goals… and now you have one less day to achieve them.

Shared goals and celebrating wins

Sharing your goals with others is a great way to keep on track.  Ask your peers how they are going with their goals and update them on your progress.  And celebrate wins.  Breaking your annual goals down into monthly or weekly milestones makes it far less intimidating and allows you to enjoy a regular sense of accomplishment.

There is a body of research out there supporting the premise that the vast majority of us want to do a great job at work and exceed our performance targets.  Focus yourself to stay on target and don’t let distraction or boredom rob you of the opportunity to achieve great results.

Ben Walsh – General Manager – Recruitment

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