Jack Ma Speech - How to Stay Focused and Motivated on Your Goals
How to Stay Focused on Your Dreams (for Teens)
You no doubt have dreams for your future after high school. While it can be difficult to stay motivated to work towards goals that are years away, keeping up momentum is the key. Whether your dream is to be a successful businessman, a writer, or a star athlete, breaking your dream into manageable parts will help sustain your motivation. Thinking about why you want to reach your goals will also help you work on them daily.
Setting Yourself Up For Success
Write down your dream.Be as specific as possible. Give reasons why you want to reach this particular goal and what you hope to get out of it. The better you can describe what you hope to accomplish and why, the easier it will be to do what is necessary to get there.
- Start a journal to write in every day as you achieve steps towards your larger goal.
- Write your dream and main motivations for reaching it on note cards to keep in your bag or wallet. Take them out and read them whenever you don’t feel like working or feel discouraged.
Create a vision board.Use pictures and motivational words or statements to represent your dream. Add trinkets or photographs that make you think of your goals and future success. Put your vision board in a place you will see it every morning when you wake up and evening before you go to bed.
- Cut images from magazines or draw your own.
- Look up inspiration quotes or write down words that have meaning for you in large, bold letters.
- Focus on how you want to feel rather than material things you hope to have. Doing this helps you motivate yourself because you can feel successful every day.
Break your goal into small steps and schedule deadlines.Use a calendar or planner to mark your due dates. Make sure these deadlines are realistic and update them as necessary if you discover they will take more time.
- Each time you succeed at a small goal, your brain releases dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical in the brain, making you want to achieve more!
- Mark these victories as you achieve them on your schedule.
- Don’t forget to schedule free time too! You can’t work constantly and stay focused, so add a short break every day for doing something fun or relaxing.
Find a mentor.The best way to reach your dreams is to get guidance from someone who has accomplished something similar. Visit your guidance counselor for recommendations on where to find potential mentors in your chosen field. Your school may have mentorship programs in place ready to pair you with a willing participant looking to teach up-and-coming professionals.
- If you know someone working in your field, ask to interview them about their career. If this goes well, ask if they would be willing to mentor you.
- Look online for support services from non-profit or governmental institutions. There may be mentorship programs set up in your area already. Try findamentor.com.
- Check out blogs written by people currently working in the field. Comment on their blog posts, ask relevant questions, and show interest in their work.
- Don’t ask someone you don’t already have a relationship with to mentor you unless they have previously expressed interest in mentoring.
Get an internship.Internships are an excellent way to try out a future profession, gain experience for your resume, and make connections in the field. Ask your guidance counselor for companies requesting student interns, or look in the local newspaper or online job site.
- Online sites like internships.com, idealist.org, and experience.com are all great places to look.
- Internships are a great way to find mentors! Work hard, ask for increasing responsibilities, and show interest in the work of others to develop relationships.
- Make sure to log your hours and have a supervisor sign off on them in case they can be used towards college credits later.
- You will probably need to interview for an internship, even if it is unpaid. Prepare for it like you would any job interview so your future boss knows you are serious.
Rewrite your goal every day.Writing stuff down is actually part of the mental process for committing to a goal, so write your dream down every morning.
- Doing this will remind you why you are going to try your best each day to keep up with your deadlines.
- Keep a dry erase or chalkboard next to your vision board to rewrite your goal every day. You don’t have to keep it since the process is what is important.
- Get different colors and take a few minutes to write it nicely, and differently from the day before, so that it catches your attention when you pass by it.
Do something towards your goal every day.Look at the nearest deadline you made on your calendar and decide on 1-3 things you can do today to work towards accomplishing it.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself with more than a few daily goals. One is ideal; three is the maximum.
- Don’t take even one day off from working on your goal. Do something to keep it at the top of your list so you don’t lose momentum.
- If you are on vacation, etc., and just can't actually work on your goal, at least take a few minutes to think about it and plan for when you return home.
Create an organized workspace.You can’t stay on task if you can’t find needed supplies. Set aside a place just for working on your dream and gather what you will need to achieve daily goals. This may be a desk, a space to practice, or any other area specific to your long-term goal.
- If your dream is to be a professional athlete, find a quiet and appropriate place to practice.
- If your chosen sport is a team sport, find a gym or arena you like to practice in and figure out the best times to go.
- If you are heading towards a career in writing or research, set up a study area in your house with a desk, a comfortable chair, a bookshelf, and a computer, if needed.
- If your dream is to be an artist, set aside a space to create art. Gather the supplies you will use most: paints, pencils, paper and/or canvas, any tools you like to use when making art.
Clear out distractions.Play background music only if it is conducive to you working. Turn off the television, or better yet, don’t include a TV in your workspace at all.Ask family and friends not to interrupt you, and put your phone on silent.
- If your dream requires writing or reading, or other skills that require steady concentration, you should be able to work smoothly through any background noise without being distracted by it by lyrics or dissident tones.
- Try classical music, or jazz, or make up a playlist with songs that you know well and aren’t easily drawn into singing.
- If your dream requires practicing physical efforts everyday, choose music that motivates you to work harder. You might listen to dance or pop music with lyrics about achieving goals and working hard to get what you want, for example.
Take regular breaks.You need a 15 minute break every 45 minutes to stay sharp and focused on the task at hand.Use your break to get up and move around, if your work requires you to sit, or to sit and relax, if your work is primarily physical.
- Start a meditation practice.This is not only a great way to change tasks and refresh your mind, but also keeps your brain more focused throughout the entire day.
- Athletes might use break time to rest and rehydrate with some water while watching video of professional performances.
- If you practice inside, go outside for your break to get a change of scenery, and vice versa.
- If you are working inside while sitting for long periods, you might get up and take a dance break or complete a short chore.
- If you have a pet, play with them for 15 minutes for stress relief and fun. Take your dog for a short walk or grab a piece of yarn to play with your cat.
Reward yourself for each success, no matter how small!Set up rewards for each task or part of your plan that you complete and/or for meeting timed goals.
- Sometimes your best might be doing your work for the day even though you don't want to. Reward yourself for overcoming the urge to procrastinate!
- Rewards can be monetary, free time to spend how you like, or anything else that makes you happy. It’s up to you!
- Make sure you aren’t spending out of your means, or scheduling too much free time to be able to meet your next deadline on time!
- Be careful about using food and drinks as rewards. A piece of expensive chocolate is a great reward, but rewarding yourself every day with a kind-size candy bar is not good for your health.
Learn to work through boredom.Find a way to love the process of working on tedious tasks that must be done daily in order to reach your overall goals.
- There are always tasks like these, whether it is practicing the same moves over and over again, researching topics for your writing, or doing the same math problems multiple times until you get them just right.
- Find something within these tasks that you enjoy doing or that makes you feel good, and focus on that aspect instead of the boredom of repetition.
Visualize working on your goal for motivation.Visions boards are great tools because they keep you reminded of what you really want and why you should keep working hard to get it. But if you aren’t standing in front of it, use your imagination to find the motivation to get through your daily task.
- Be specific with your visualizations, though. Instead of daydreaming about a far off future, in which you have your dream career, visualize yourself actually doing the nitty-gritty work.
- Picture yourself doing what you need to get done today, and how you will feel after it’s done, and then you will likely be ready to get to work.
- If this doesn’t get you moving, remind yourself of your reasons for wanting your dream. Look at your notecards or vision board for all the specific reasons why your dream is important to you.
Resist the urge to multitask.Multitasking is not really a great way to get things done and do them well. You will complete each task much more proficiently and completely if you focus on one at a time. Dividing your attention with too many tasks is as distracting as TV or loud music can be.
- If you are writing a story or report, break the task up into sections and complete one at a time.
- Athletes should concentrate on learning one skill or move at a time.
- Artists usually work with one medium at a time. Complete your under-drawing before you start opening paint
- Trying to do them all at once can get confusing and switching back and forth between tasks makes them all more difficult
Don’t procrastinate.This is the work thing you can do when trying to work towards a large goal. Plan out projects and tasks way in advance of your deadlines for completing them, and plan a work schedule if necessary, to determine how much time it will really take to do these tasks well.
- Figure out your personal procrastination style to find out how best to avoid your triggers.For example, some people procrastinate by watching TV or another leisurely activity, while others put off important work to do chores that can really wait until another day.
- Set up time in your schedule for goofing off or surfing the internet if you know these are big time wasters for you.
- Giving yourself permission to do the things you enjoy while limiting the amount of time you can spend doing them is often far more productive than trying to avoid these time spenders completely.
- Find tips to stop procrastinating online, but actually use them to see benefits, and limit the amount of time you spend looking for them.
- The only way to really fail at anything is to never try. Even small “failures” are learning experiences that can lead you to new roads or better paths towards success.
- Everyone “fails” sometimes. It is inevitable when working really hard towards a large goal. The trick is to get back up, brush off the dust, reassess your future actions, and keep moving forward.
Video: How To Stay Focused
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