You've probably heard one of the definitions of insanity which is doing the same thing over and over, yet each time expecting different results.
I will be the first to admit there is a certain degree of insanity that is my life. I say I want to have a clean house, for example, but many days I am guilty of merely wishing it to be and chastising myself when that wish doesn't come true. Obviously wishing it or really, really wanting it doesn't work. I'm no more likely to wake up tomorrow with a burning desire to mop the floor than I did yesterday, or the day before, or last week, or last year! There is nothing inherently magical about saying "someday I'm going to tackle that messy closet". Change just doesn't happen that way.
So how do we make change happen? There is a quote from the Bible that says "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". My paraphrase would be:
The spirit totally wants
to make it happen,
but the body just wants to sit around
So how do we make changes? I think it pretty much comes down to brute force. The apostle Paul said, "I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave". I like that. It doesn't mean you have to take a club to yourself (whew!). It just means that if you truly want your life to look different than it does now, you have to mentally drag yourself kicking and screaming to whatever it is you say you want (or need) to do. That means you have to WILL it to happen, not wish it. There is no time when I find coercion more necessary than on days when I have a ton of pressing things to do, or I'm extra tired, or what I really feel like doing is surfing the internet. The solution, however, is simple. I just need to choose to take steps that move me in the direction of my goals. Notice I said simple, not easy.
Making yourself do it is how you develop new habits. Habits are actually ruts in your brain. No, seriously. I mean, they're kind of like pathways that are established in your gray matter whenever you do something repeatedly. That's why breaking bad habits is so difficult. Your brain gets stuck doing things a certain way because that's what you've done so many times. You ever drive on a dirt road that has deep ruts? It's not so easy getting out of them, is it? So creating a new habit is like climbing up out of those ruts and making your own new ruts. Ruts that take you where you want to go. At first it's very difficult, but the more you drive on the new path, the easier it gets. You just have to keep making progress on the new ruts every day.
Here's a tip: I have a mentor that tells me to post my goals in a place that I look at every day. Even if it's just Post It notes taped to the bathroom mirror, it becomes a visual reminder that keeps my goals in the forefront of my mind.
How about you? What are your tricks for helping you stay focused on working toward your goals?