Do you chase shiny objects? Wait. Don't answer yet.
First things first, I'm not a productivity expert, and I often struggle to focus on the right things.
I chase shiny objects! All the time. So why would you listen to me?
Here's the thing: Sometimes you learn best from someone who's closer to your starting point.
If you're like me:
- You have a lot of things going on in your life (day job, starting your own business, family, school, agghhh)
- You're super motivated and absorb knowledge like a sponge but...
- You don't know exactly how to apply all that knowledge
- You aren't sure what you should be focusing on daily to achieve your big life goals
Yep. That's me. You too? Keep reading.
A Lion, a Dog, and a Bone
What's "lion mind"? I was listening to this meditation about having a lion mind versus having a dog mind. Mind you, I was this close to switching to another meditation, when I chose to listen.
The story was about a dog, a lion, and a bone. The dog was, of course, hyper-focused on the bone. He couldn't take his eyes off the bone. He chased it anywhere the guy threw it.
The lion didn't operate that way. Nope. Sure, he saw the bone. But what was the lion really focused on? The guy holding the bone. The guy who could be a threat or a meal for the lion.
The guy threw the bone. Guess what the lion did? Nothing. He let the bone go and stayed focused on the guy.
What Do You Do When Someone Throws a Bone?
Chances are you chase it. The bone might be your Facebook feed. It might be an ad for yet another free webinar about the one thing you need to do to make a million dollars instantly, while you're sleeping. It might be your endless inbox.
It might be the 10th course you've signed up for but haven't gotten around to yet. *cough -- that's me* It might be a thought, such as "This will never work. Why bother?"
The bone is any shiny object that distracts you from what you should be doing. If your mind is in 20 different places all at once, you're in "dog mind." If you have 12 tabs open on your browser, and you can't even remember what you were doing a minute ago--yep, bow wow.
What's so bad about chasing shiny objects?
If your goal is to collect as many shiny objects as possible, great, you win! But let's clarify what a shiny object is, and why it's not as harmless as you may think. (Hint: It's not a diamond.)
Shiny objects are:
- Distractions that steal your time
- Information overload that zaps your energy and focus
- Unnecessary costs that take your money with little return on investment
- Procrastination's BFF that you use to pretend like you're moving your business forward, when really, you're just faking it
- Cover-ups for limiting beliefs that you don't want to face (It looks like you're working so hard on your dreams, but really you're hiding behind the shiny objects. I know because I've done it.)
What Would the Lion Do?
The lion is focused on survival--his next move to maximize his chances of survival. He's not clicking on every six-figure-month-ultimate-sales-funnel ad that he sees. No. He knows what matters, and the rest is just noise.
How do you block the noise, when it's so loud? How do you know what matters in your business and in your life?
How do you develop lion mind?
1. Letting Distractions Pass
First, know that you have a choice. Your mind is under your control. You run the show, not the shiny objects.
Will distractions ever go away? Unless you move into the wilderness with no human contact and no Wi-Fi, unlikely. Distractions are part of life.
The lion mind recognizes distractions, and simply lets them pass. It doesn't engage, or chase after shiny objects.
2. Deciding What Deserves Your Attention
In order to sniff out shiny objects, you have to know what your true priorities are.
Priorities are the big things you want for your life. Priority actions are what move your big goals and your business forward.
This doesn't mean these must be mammoth actions. As long as an action is moving you forward, even a small step, it qualifies.
It's important to know: Sometimes your progress is invisible. You're focusing. You're taking action on your goals every single day, but the needle isn't moving.
Give it time and keep working. Building your life and your business is not a "drive-thru" activity. It's a long-term journey, full of ups and downs and maybe a few break-downs on the side of the road.
Only you know what moves your business forward and what actions will take you closer to your goals.
Be specific. Don't just say yes. Know which life goal it applies to and how it will help move you closer to it.
For example, the daily actions that move me closer to my business goals fall into six categories:
- Content creation (blog posts, emails to subscribers, opt-in material, etc.)
- Engagement (replying to comments and emails, commenting on social media, discovery calls with future clients)
- Networking (pitching guest posts, engaging with other bloggers and business owners)
- Learning (This is a tricky one for me. It's easy to fall into the shiny object trap here. Be sure to apply the "one-step-closer" test to any resources, courses, or training you consider, even if it's free. Basically, I want to know that I can reasonably expect to gain skills and strategies that will provide results in my business.)
- Promoting (sharing blog posts, creating ads)
- Planning (setting goals and scheduling the actions needed to get there)
As long as most of my working time is spent focusing in these areas, I know my business is moving forward, even if I can't see progress yet.
Need help finding your content focus? Read about the content GPS.
3. Having a Plan
You know what your major areas of focus should be to move your business forward every day? Great. Now what? Make a plan for action.
Schedule time slots for specific actions in each of your priority areas. Still working 8-5 like me? Here's what that might look like:
- 5:30-6:30 a.m. - Content Creation
- Draft the post on "lion mind"
- 12:00-12:30 p.m. - Engagement
- Discovery call with future client
- 12:30-1:00 p.m. - Learning
- Work on a module in Yay for Clients
- 6:30-7:00 p.m. - Promoting
- Share guest post on My Adaptable Career on social media
4. Resetting After You Get Distracted
Distractions will always exist, both internally and externally. And sometimes you'll give in because you're human. Sometimes we'll be content to chase those bones. It's okay.
When it happens, and it will, move past it and reset. Go back to your list of daily priorities and get your mind back in the game.
If you find it happening constantly, you might need to re-consider your priorities. Why are you avoiding them? Because you are. What's the fear or belief holding you back? Because it's there.
Trust me. There are only so many freebies or comment tunnels you can fall into for purely entertainment purposes. At some point, you'll have to admit you're using distractions to avoid your work, and there's a reason for that.
5. Taking a Break When You Need It
You're not a machine. You might roll with it for a few days, weeks, or even months. But you'll pay. Being a stressed out, burned to the edges, bitter productivity bot leads to burnout not contentment. (An early grave maybe,)
The most productive person is one who takes breaks! Seriously. Set a timer. Work for 25 and rest for 5. Listen to your body and mind and take a break.
Feeling like you're burning out in your creative biz? Read about how not to fizzle.
What are you, most of the time, the lion or the dog? What are your shiny objects? What actions can you take today to move one step closer to your goals?
Tell me in the comments. I 'd love to hear from you.
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