When pollen knocks at our doors (or is breathed through our noses), a strong sneeze might not be far behind. With allergies as a typical ailment that many suffer through in the spring, we all know how sometimes our bodies can work against our will. However, besides the seasonal ailments we all go through, we also sometimes have mental handicaps that hold us back year round. None of us like it when we look up at our monitors and realize that we’ve missed a major progress marker for the day, and we’re all familiar with that sinking sensation when we’re dreading a meeting, even if it is a week out.
Just as there are cures to our more physical illnesses, there are also ways to work through our own mental hangups. First, pay attention to the symptoms (your typical habits) and then identify the root cause. This blog post will go over three of the biggest symptoms of lowered productivity and what they really tell you about your work routine.
1. Persistent Fogginess (When your goal is not in view)
If you initially define a goal and choose a timeframe to complete the goal within, then you must plan to revisit this goal (and any subset mile markers) time after time to keep yourself on the right path. Fogginess can come into the picture if you lazily make progress towards a goal.
For example, if you’re an instructor whose goal is to make sure that all of your students can correctly and efficiently cite outside resources in their essays by the end of the semester, and you fail to test their strengths through writing assignments every week, then you’re likely to miss this goal. Maybe you’re too focused on examining literary devices and themes, and you’ve allowed that to overshadow assignments that will help students with resource citation. It’s time to re-focus, and to do this you could revisit the course’s objectives and then re-define your class schedule for the semester. This will help to set you back on track.
In a similar way, you could be experiencing persistent fogginess for a goal because it was not well-defined from the beginning. When working towards an accomplishment, create mile markers and even tests to see where you are and how you’re progressing. Use an app that will allow you track your progress, a whiteboard, or even create a sticky note wall that will allow you to visually and physically manage your steps. Additionally, if your goal is to see a certain number of clients on a daily basis, try an appointment management system that will allow you to keep track of pending and completed appointments. Re-consider how each mile-marker is just a consecutive step to achieving your goal and you’ll be able to see more clearly.
2. Perfectionitis (Everything has to be just right)
When defining a goal that you’d like to work towards, as long as you plot out a sensible path to get to that goal then you’re doing well. You might create a schedule online for yourself to keep track of your plans with reminders. And when going for your goals, don't become so entangled into meeting perfection that it hinders you from going forward.
For example, let’s say that your goal is to lose 30 pounds over the next six months. For each week, you’ve planned themed days for your meals and have determined a calorie limit for each day. If you so happen to go over your calorie limit one day because you skipped lunch at work and needed to eat something before making it home, that’s okay. Maybe you didn’t plan your work-day very well and ended up working through lunch, or maybe you forgot to pack lunch for that day.
Things happen, and when the unexpected occurs it teaches us about flexibility. Holding yourself accountable to meeting your mile-markers is awesome, but don’t beat yourself up if everything doesn’t go as planned. Re-assess and plan to do better if another opportunity presents itself.
3. Unnecessary Wear & Tear (A lack of support)
Do you sometimes feel so worn out at the end of the day that once you eat dinner, you conk out within the next hour? It’s good to make progress on your goals, but don’t carry the load alone if you don’t have to.
Tell a family member, friend, or someone you can confide in about your goals and ask them to periodically check in with you. You might find that they may be able to offer some direct or indirect support; they might be able to offer you some physical help or even mental help through advice or suggestions.
Don’t underestimate the power of a team. Sometimes that extra support is what you need to keep going when rough times come, such as unexpected life occurrences like death or injury. Hold yourself to checking in with your accountability partner at least once per week.
Let’s say that your goal is do one selfless act each day for one month to help you overcome selfishness and understand that the lives of others and their problems are just as important as yours. Tell your partner at least one thing that you’ve done that week to help someone else, and you never know if your goal could be a positive fire-starter for your partner.
And there you have it--three infirmities that are keeping you from reaching your goals and remedies for each. Now, how do you plan to get back on your feet again?
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Been there, done that & here's what I've learned
In the comments box below, share with us a time that you experienced one of these pitfalls while working towards a goal and how you managed to get back on your feet again. Your story just might prevent someone else from making the same mistake.