Have you ever set a goal and found yourself full of excitement, energy and focus… only to feel frustrated and overwhelmed days later, lacking motivation and off track already? Me too. Just this past Sunday I had looked at my schedule and realized that I would be free nearly every day by 11 AM. My heart skipped as a dreamt of everything I would get done. It was like dreaming, imagining myself checking off to-do items and working through long overdue tasks. But when Tuesday arrived I already found myself overwhelmed. The house was a mess, dishes flowing out of the sink, the playroom like it had been hit by a bomb. I tried to redirect and went to the office. But, after an hour of trying to connect my new computer to the office printer I had had it. I was done. I felt like I couldn’t spend any more attention or energy on my goals. How did this happen!?
Believe it or not, there is an answer (and a solution!). More and more research is showing us that we only have so much focus and will power in a given day. Imagine it like a cup that gets filled up overnight with focus and willpower. When you wake up in the morning you begin to spend that ability with each choice you make. It may start with picking a healthy breakfast and skipping the Starbucks. Next you might spend it by taking deep breaths when you are caught in traffic. You might spend even more when you try to patiently wait for your husband/wife/coworker/friend to text you back with important information. It’s no wonder that we can often feel depleted by lunch, struggling to focus on our goals. This ‘wearing down’ even has a name – vigilance decrement.
So what is the solution? Take a break! Those same studies have found that if you take breaks in your day your willpower and focus will last longer. Step back to take a deep breath. Go for a walk. Listen to a guided meditation on your lunch break. Take a shower. Stepping away from the things that demand our attention can actually increase our ability to give them attention. As a bonus, we may even have more creativity and ability to think outside the box when we do! This video explains it all perfectly.
When I felt like a failure just hours into the dreamy I-am-going-to-do-it-all week I took this advice. I changed scenery by leaving the office and going home for lunch. I made sure to eat as much as I needed to fuel my body. I took 10 minutes to lay down and give myself a pep talk. Then I got up, reassessed my list of goals and got back to it. I was sure to breath and pat myself on the back each time I finished a task. I even wrote it down so I could see my list of finished items slowly growing.
You can do this too. Next time you feel flustered, step back and take a breath. Know that I am here to support you in whatever goals you set for your wellness. Sometimes we all need a guide along the way. When you are ready, give me a call to clarify your goals and make an action plan. It’s time to claim your adventurous, purposeful life.