Distractions and depressions are a normal part of a productive person’s life.
Someone recently asked:
Some weeks I’m pumped, focused, energetic, and productive. Life is good and I am checking off my goals one by one. Then I have a week when it feels like I get nothing done. I have no energy or focus. I’m watching TV, reading the news, and sleeping in. What do I do? How do i get consistent?
The first thing you have to do is realize that this is normal. No one is fully motivated, pumped up, and focused 24/7/365. It’s impossible. I don’t know what you are going through in life, but if there is something causing this relationally, physically, or emotionally, take care of that. If you’ve lost a friend, take the time to mourn. If you’re sick, get your rest. You don’t have to be “on” all the time. “Consistency” is not about going 100% every minute of every day, it’s about managing your up time and your down time and not turning bad moments into bad days and bad days into bad weeks.
Here are four tips to get more consistently focused and motivated:
- Know that it’s OK. As I say above, realize this is normal and don’t get down when you’re not up. You read that right, just because you’re not up, doesn’t mean you have to be down. Just because this morning you don’t feel like running through walls doesn’t mean you can’t climb over them. Take a moment to acknowledge that you are sluggish or in pain and don’t allow that to drag you down any further.
- Go scorched earth on distractions. Whatever is distracting you, get rid of it. We got rid of cable over four years ago. TV is no longer a distraction. I love sports but I am no longer watching other guys live their dreams on Saturday and Sunday while I’m eating Cheetos on the couch. I’m not watching others win gold medals while I could be writing. Whatever the distractions are, you need to get rid of them. There will be times when you will want a distraction and there won’t be one, so you will just kind of find something productive to do. After a few months, it gets easy. This is similar to trying to lose weight. If you tell me that Twinkies are your downfall…that you eat 2 every night because they are so tempting, I have an easy fix for you…stop buying them! Remove the temptation. I doubt that every single night, you are going to venture out into the cold, dark night, start up the car, and drive just to get your two Twinkies. Eventually you lose the desire and the desire for Twinkies is replaced by the desire to be thin.
- When you need a lift, get a lift. Listen to whatever you need to listed to or read whatever you need to read to inspire you. It may be the exact same thing every time or it may be some different things. Whatever gets your motor going. I used to think motivational speeches were corny but now I choose to react to them. I listen to some of the same stuff over and over to the point that I have memorized speeches. But every time, it gets me moving and gets me excited to do what I need to do that day. Find whatever works for you. A movie clip, a certain speaker, a book. Whatever works for you is what is best for you.
- Keep a journal. When do you get “down?” Is it after a real high (success)? Is it when you have relational problems? When you aren’t exercising? When you _____? This may take months or possibly years to really pinpoint but do it. I would write it out however you want and also keep a chart. It might look like this:
Date – Emotional Status – Life Events – Today’s Objectives
Over time, this allows you to identify trends and patterns. After 3-4 months (it isn’t a quick fix) you start to see some trends and start to make life changes that raise up your down times, shorten them, and make the time between them longer.
How do you handle distractions and emotional down times?