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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

Drowning in the Details: How to Re-focus on Your Big Career Goals

I want to have an extraordinary career—and really make an impact inside my company, and out in the world.

But there are so many little things that need to get done every day.

It’s so hard to stay focused on the big picture.

Sound like you?

If so, I can relate. In running my own business, I know how challenging it can be to get all of the “little things” done, while still making progress toward your bigger, more meaningful career goals.

Some days, it can feel like you’re drowning in minutia, totally disconnected from the “bigger work” that you feel called to do!

It’s a frustrating feeling—and all of that fretting can seriously stifle your productivity.
But you can overcome it—it just takes a little strategy. Here’s how to get re-focused on the big stuff, while still getting everything else done.

1. Remember Why You’re Doing What You’re Doing

In your heart of hearts, you probably know what your big goal is. And you probably know what it will take to get there. But remembering that often means taking a time-out from the rest of the work you’re doing.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to breathe deeply. Stretch. Recharge. Reload.

Remind yourself of the bigger picture—the dream you’re working toward—and take a moment to visualize it. Really see it and feel it. Let the dream be sweet.

Then, tell yourself:

I know what I’m working toward. And I know what I need to do, right now, to move a few steps closer. Here I go!

2. Collect All of Your “Little Distractions” in a List

If you’re struggling to stay focused on the big project that’s in front of you—because there are a million other “little things” that need to get done—do a brain-dump before you sit down at your desk.

Make a list of everything that’s distracting you—things to remember, things to research later, ideas you don’t want to forget—and save your list for later.

Then, sit down and focus on the big task at hand—knowing that all of the “other stuff” is safe and secure, preserved on your list. For later.

(Making a brain-dump list is also a smart thing to do at night, just before you fall asleep—especially if you’re plagued with a “chattering mind” that won’t quiet down at bedtime.)

3. Remind Yourself That You Can Make Progress

Even if doesn’t happen as quickly as you’d like. Say to yourself:

I can make time to focus on my bigger career goals. I may not have as much time as I’d like, but I can make progress, no matter how small.

Be patient with yourself. Remember, it is the baby steps you take that lead to the bigger progress that you’re aiming for.

4. Dig Deeper

If you’re still struggling to keep your mind focused on your big career goals, this might indicate that there’s something deeper going on.

Fear might be holding you back—fear of success (you believe that if you achieve success, you won’t be able to sustain it), fear of failure (not succeeding with your career goal), or fear of what people will think of you (if things don’t go the way that you’d hoped).

There are various ways to manage those kinds of fears, if that’s going on for you—from writing in a journal to gain insight and clarity about your fears to consulting a professional.

But no matter what you’re feeling—and no matter how much needs to get done—you can create the career of your dreams.

One choice. One task. One focused, productive workday at a time.

What’s one big career goal that hasn’t been getting much time or attention lately? Are you ready to give it your full attention, even just for the next hour?

Photo of sticky notes courtesy of Shutterstock.