7 Tips For Staying Focused On Your Goals

You will encounter all kinds of roadblocks that test your resolve to achieve your goals. Here are seven tips to help you maneuver around those barriers.

Kathy Loh organizes writing project

Kathy Loh organizes her project at Cynthia Morris’s writing retreat.

1. Know your priorities.

Dang it! You wrote them down somewhere. Where are those priorities?

You shouldn’t have to look them up. You should know your priorities and trust in them. They are beacons that guide your every move.

Your top business priorities are those things that will have the biggest positive impact on your career and business. Then you have essential personal priorities like family, health, and spiritual practices.

You need both business and personal priorities to do your best work and live your best life.

2. Share your priorities with those close to you.

Those who love you should want to support you in reaching your goals, but they won’t know how to do that until you have explained it.

Telling people what you want for yourself will make it easier to set boundaries around your time. When you say, “I’m sorry I can’t have lunch, that is my studio time,” they will better understand why.

3. Let it go.

Saying Yes to your big goals means that you must say No to other things. Decide what can or should be eliminated from your schedule.

This might be socializing, spending time on social media, getting caught up in funny videos on YouTube, or watching television.

But it might also be that you need to pull back from venues that aren’t serving you or marketing methods that haven’t paid off after consistent effort.

4. Practice a standard “rejection line.”

A “rejection line” is what you’ll use to say No, Thank You to requests for your time and energy.

I tend to favor the one I learned from writers: “I’m sorry I can’t do that with/for you. I’m on deadline.

Another favorite of mine is “Let me think about it and get back to you.” This is more about postponing a response rather than delivering an outright rejection. It’s perfect to use when you’re tempted.

5. Believe.

Trust that you can reach your big goals. They wouldn’t have occurred to you if the Universe wasn’t ready to deliver.

There will be people and circumstances that try to separate you from your dreams. The more you have faith in your direction, the more likely you will be to stand up for what is important.

6. Hang a sign on your door.

Post a sign on your door with the name of your studio and hours of operation. Add the date of establishment if that helps.

A sign reminds you (and potential interrupters) that you are at work.

7. Ask yourself: “What If . . . ?”

When I was writing my book, my coach asked me, “What if you go into a bookstore and see your book on the shelf – only it’s been written by someone else?”

The thought that someone else would write my book before me helped me stay on task.

What is your “What If” question that will help you stay focused on your priorities?

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27 comments to 7 Tips For Staying Focused On Your Goals

  • Terrific list! I will be posting my priorities list at my desk so I can see it daily.
    I favor the “I’m on deadline” too, since it’s not usually too far from the truth, even if that deadline is sometimes self-imposed.
    Thanks!
    erin

  • What if I never get to live my dream of being an artist?
    What if I never paint or draw again?
    What if I never stop seeking to learn?

    Those drive my priorities.

  • what if I don’t get my new art wesbiste done? this is where having a friend to help really works. I don’t normally say I am artist and can’t figure out techonology, but I will when it will help me. And I can’t really figure it out. so I look for people who can help me reach my goals and dreams. And then I am there when they need me.

    • Elizabeth: Not knowing technology has nothing to do with being an artist. Most people in the world couldn’t get a website up. Work on your strengths and let others work on theirs.

  • Thank you Alyson, you have listed the most important things to do in order to get your career as an artist started.

    What helped me to stay on tract with my goals and earn the support I needed from my family was to start having monthly business meetings with my husband. After all I had been a stay at home mom until the kids went off to school, then I was supposed to get a paying job, not a playing job. I was taken seriously by my family, when I was able to priorities my goals, track progress and check off the goals I had accomplished. Ask yourself what your opportunity cost will be if you fail. For me, it means my own kids don’t get the financial help they will need for college. So accountability is paramount, and its helpful to have another person who can help with this process as things can get over whelming in the creative field, especially when there is so much business stuff to learn.

  • Thanks for the list! I can definitely use some of these. I have a list of big goals posted in eye’s site at my bench and a “will complete this week” list right next to it. So it looks like that is step one. …

  • I like the idea of the business meeting to ensure accountability and the on deadline for a quick response when needed. It can be hard for others to appreciate how much time is needed.

  • […] Stanfield wrote a blog post today, 7 Tips for Staying Focused, that had me revisiting that topic that’s always in my […]

  • This post is so helpful. You must have read my mind!

  • Moises W. Sanchez

    It looks like I am not alone on this…. :) thank you! great tips… ! I will make a sign right now… and keep focus…

  • Thanks so much for the wonderful list!…..and the timing is amazing! Early this morning after another night of broken sleep I realized that I had to pull out of a commitment with a friend. She would say “it’s only 5 hours per month”. And 5 hours per month is a lot to me as my life is so full. I realized that instead of spending the 5 hours at something that didn’t support or further my work, I could spend that 5 “found” hours per month that I wanted to do that would support me as an artisan and my business. Knowing my priorities and sharing my priorities….tips #1 and 2 – excellent! Thanks A!

  • Thank you for the great post, wonderful points to keep us artists on task.

  • Ingrid Coke

    Impeccible timing Alyson. Crystal clear direction and just to the point. Thanks a million zillion:-)

  • Great post Alyson!! Thank you for your insightful list as always.
    I will take your advice and really focus on my priorities. I forget sometimes and really like to just get into the act of creating. Sometimes the big picture gets pushed under the surface while I am looking into the sun, enjoying the moment.
    I really love the idea of doing what I love but sometimes I really need to remember that the main objective is still financial success while doing the thing that I love, which is the creative process!
    Really appreciate all that you do Alyson and will take this list to heart and really prioritize my life.
    Thank you.
    Scott

  • Hi Alyson,
    Thank you for sharing this post. Yes Priorities you say it.
    It is just a decision right. And it helps to not think about all the other things i could do…

    I remember when I quit smoking –
    First i said: “Well I quit, but i will smoke once in a while with this or that friend.”
    My Partner said: “Thats not quite consequent.”
    He was right and I thought:
    “Wow, when I just decide I will never do it again, I never have think or choose etc again. What a relieve.”
    I quit and never smoked again.

    Hmm so how to do that with a creative mind which is attracted by so much and with always another Idea in the pipeline. Well, yes letting go…

    I hope that one day i can say with the same clarity:
    “I´m an artist. I create and sell my artwork and I´m happy, successful and fullfilled with it.”

    My Questions:
    So what if i never learn to figure this out?
    What if someone I know does it and I don´t?!!!!

    Thank you for activating this thoughts in my head ;-)

  • Thanks for the list of how to create my list. One thing that was on your list that I had no idea about was number 3. Let it go and number 4. Practice a standard “rejection line.” These are areas I need to work on. I also enjoyed your number 5. Believe – I think I will make this one into a poster for my wall, to remind me daily. Your number 6. Hang a sign on your door – is my favorite. Posting up some studio hours will not only let other know my hours, but also force me to make time in my busy schedule to just create. Number 7, just said make deadline for myself and keep them, which isn’t easy when it’s for myself vs. a customer.

  • Hi Alyson

    This is solid article on staying focused, I rely enjoyed your No.7 The what if question, What a great coach to have while righting a book.

    I my self have a different perspective on staying focused, I find what works rely well is to remove common distractions, taking time out and categorising the things that prevent us from staying focused.

    If you follow this link you can see what I mean

    http://scucessful.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/staying-focused.html

    Have a Great day and well done on your accomplishments.

  • Alyson,

    #7: What if you had seen your book on the shelf written by someone else? I am writing a book and have heard that rumors abound that someone else is maybe writing the same book. Previously, I thought it would be completely unique. So what should my reaction be? Yours was to work fast. But let’s assume I work fast and someone gets there first? Oh, yes, I’ve heard the adage about writing the “best” book, but let’s face it, there are risks.

  • I think knowing our priorities and our limits is one of the most important things we need to pay attention to. Recently I have found facebook to be a waste of my time and energy and keeping my website new, fresh and updated was a much more important tool. (I am socking in today for a complete overhaul and update)! I also think a good blog and keeping my art focused and letting people know my “story” is what my customers and followers want from me more than useless postings on social media.

    As a ceramic sculptor my time is very limited; I really liked your way of saying “no” to those who try to take up too much of your studio time. Saying no properly is an important social skill as well as knowing what we truly need to succeed and what we want. I believe in putting needs first!