Yesterday was Black Friday. This is a huge shopping weekend for Christmas. I’m not doing any marathon, price-busting shopping this weekend, but I have found myself thinking about it a lot. People are out there at insane times looking for great bargains. I know some of my friends have turned it into an annual ritual and can’t imagine not doing it.
Here’s my problem. Shopping at big stores is almost always sensory overload for me. I’lI go in and there are so many choices, so much stuff that my brain instantly shuts down. I become like a deer in the headlights. My higher brain function shuts down and everything becomes a swirl of color and packaging. Usually, I wander around mumbling to myself, occasionally picking something up and putting it right back down and eventually leave empty-handed, not even remembering what I went in there for. Or worse yet, I come out with bags of stuff, having purchased everything but what I actually needed. Most of the time I have to go back in a couple of days later and return all the extra stuff. Either way, most of the time I literally can’t remember why I was there in the first place because there is just too much competing for my attention. The only way I even allow myself to enter a store like that anymore is with a specific list that I commit to following to the letter. That way, I know exactly what I am looking for, I can disregard anything that isn’t on my list and I can leave with my brain (and my bank account) still in working order.
I realized recently how often my entire day mimics the above experience. Does this ever happen to you? I wake up in the morning with a vision- I am going to take the world by storm! Then, I make the mistake of venturing into said world and everything goes to hell. Suddenly, I am bombarded with an impossible number of urgent tasks to complete, other peoples’ needs to attend to, noise and activity and flurry that grabs hold of me pushing me through the hours until exhausted, I collapse into bed, thankful to have just made it through the day itself.
And then it occurs to me that I did nothing to move myself towards my goals.
I was blinded by all the options out there to chose from, much like shopping, and I simply forgot in all the noise what it was I was trying to accomplish in my day. I didn’t have my list so I couldn’t see what was truly important.
You have to be very, very clear about where you are heading or you will never get there. This means long-term clarity as well as short-term clarity. Clarity makes or breaks goals, it sustains you when things are going wrong and it lets you know when you are on the right track. Giving yourself time and space to create the clarity you need is as important as any other action step you take towards your goal. The clearer you are, the better. Which doesn’t mean that you have to know all the answers or that your vision can’t shift along the way. Think of it as your internal GPS system. If you get off track a little you can alway recalculate your route. Without that map, however, you’ll have no idea you should have taken a left turn in Albuquerque.
Keep your goals in front of you as often as possible. Just as it does me no good to write a shopping list and then leave it in the car, it won’t help you to write your goals in a journal and then turn the page or put the book away in your nightstand. Here are a few suggestions:
- Put up a white board someplace you spend a lot of time and write your daily or weekly goals on it. Take a moment every time you pass to read them.
- Spend five minutes first thing in the morning visualizing your most important goal in as much detail as possible. Be in that place where you are achieving it- how does it feel, where are you, what can you see or taste or hear?
- Stick post-it notes in unexpected places with a word or phrase that helps remind you of your goals.
- Spend a few minutes before you go to bed assessing how you did during the day and thinking about what you want to accomplish tomorrow.
- Find a consistent, specific time to reassess and recommit to your goals – (someone I know uses the full moon as a time to do this- a great idea!)
- And my current favorite – set alarms on your phone for specific times of the day as a reminder to stop and assess if you are prioritizing goals or if you’re going through the day zombie-like, blinded by all the bright and shiny things around you.
Keep those goals of yours in the forefront of your consciousness by any means necessary. Clarity and vision will get you where you want to go faster and with less mistakes than blindly wandering through your day hoping something will change.
Now, if you’ll excuse me I have a Christmas shopping list to begin before I log onto Amazon and lose myself there for the day.