Are Your Surroundings Interfering With Your Goals?
It’s almost the end of the first month of the new year, and you may be asking yourself where the time went and why haven’t you started acting on your New Year’s resolutions. You may have done everything right:
- You may have discovered a healthy Recipe For Living.
- You may have selected goals that will help you achieve your dreams.
- You may have prioritized your goals to see which one you want to tackle first.
- You may have broken up your goal into tiny baby steps.
- You may have made a New Year’s resolution to actually TAKE the first baby step.
But still no cigar. What’s up, Doc?
Clutter Can Freeze Your Action
Take a look around you. Are you surrounded by clutter? Is your house filled with distractions calling you to do laundry, pay bills, vacuum, make phone calls, play CD’s, check email, watch TV, cuddle your pets, read the newspaper, go through the mail, clip coupons, shop, read the book someone gave you, and straighten out the everyday mess left by the little (and not so little) people in your household? It’s mighty difficult to focus on an important goal with all these distractions constantly tugging at you.
Noise Can Freeze Your Action
My friend lives with a husband who has the TV on all the time when he is at home. He works hard, and that is his way to keep informed, be entertained and relax. The trouble is, she can’t concentrate on her writing because the TV is a constant distraction.
Interruptions Can Freeze Your Action
It takes a while to “get into” a productive frame of mind and to focus in on your goal. Every interruption, whether it is “in person” or by phone, leaves you with the question, “Now, where was I?” and you have to start all over again getting focused on your goal.
Your Surroundings Are Important
In order to concentrate on your goal, you need to be free of other distractions. Some people can focus on one thing even if they are surrounded by noise and clutter. Some people can “snap right back” to where they were prior to an interruption. But many of us are unable to do that.
So what can you do? You can create the kind of surroundings that will facilitate your goals. After all, you are in charge of your surroundings…in fact, through your own choices up until now, you have created the surroundings you are living in now! “No, no!” you say. “It’s my husband and my children who have created most of my surroundings!” But the fact is, you chose your husband, you chose to have children, and more importantly, you chose the way you wanted to live with your family. And the beauty is, you can always change the way you want to live with your family. You can talk with your family members about what you have discovered that you need and enlist their cooperation in making some changes that will facilitate your going after your goals, and at the same time respect the needs of the rest of your family.
How Can I Create Goal-Friendly Surroundings?
Your surroundings are the all things, conditions, circumstances, and influences that are around you in any particular place. Right now we are talking about your home surroundings, but the same principles can apply to your workplace. There are five things you can do to create surroundings that will help you go after your goals:
1. Have a heart-to-heart talk with your family. Let them know that having a happy family is one of your most important goals, and that to be happy, family members must set their own individual goals and go after their own individual dreams. Tell them about your goal, and what seems to get in the way of working toward your goal. Let them know that mutual respect is the glue that holds a family together, and that each family member needs a special place to call his/her own to dream in, to plan in, and to work in — including you! Talk about ways you could re-arrange your home to make this a reality for your family.
2. Go through your house and pick out a place that you can use for just yourself. One of my friends set up her writing office in her basement by using screens to block any view of the washing machine and dryer. Another friend used the guest room as her creative workplace. Where there is no extra room to use, you can section off one part of the living room. One of the women I know who did this ended up doing her writing late at night or early in the morning when the other family members were asleep. Stay-at-home mothers have made time to work while their children and husbands were at school or work. The woman with the TV distraction did her writing at a desk in the corner of the dining room, and she purchased earphones for her husband so that the TV didn’t “take over” the entire environment on the first floor.
3. Place only that which you need for your work in your work space — nothing else. No pictures of pets, children, non-goal related reminders or To-Do lists. Just a desk, chair, paper, pen, phone, computer, and any research material you will be using that day. Treat this space as a sacred place for you — a place to plan and work to make your dreams come true.
4. Make sure all emergencies and urgent chores have been taken care of. Plan ahead, and encourage your family members to plan ahead to eliminate as many last-minute “urgencies” and emergencies as possible. Let them know that you expect them to take responsibility for their own lives and not to expect you to bring them their forgotten homework, glasses, lunch, or gym suit. Each family member must learn to think ahead, and to tell you ahead of time if there is something that they need from you. You will find this step very liberating, and each family member will be encouraged to mature and grow toward their own fullest potential.
5. Make (and answer) only phone calls related to your goal. When you are working on your goal, let your family know what your work schedule is. Reassure them that you always want to be called if there is an emergency — but only if there is an emergency. Tell them what an emergency is. Teach them to avoid unnecessary emergencies by talking with you at dinner the night before about things that are coming up the next day. That way they learn to think and plan ahead, and you free your mind to focus fully on your goal.
Look At Your Home With Different Eyes
If you’re not careful, you can take your home for granted. It can become such a junk heap that it becomes a real obstacle to living. You can continue to put up with it, assuming that there’s no other way to arrange it. But the fact is, you can convert your home from a source of stress and distraction to a genuine TOOL FOR LIVING.
Now you can look at your home and begin the exciting adventure of making your home a place where there is a deep mutual respect for each family member to have dreams and strive to make them come true. You can have a lot of fun carving out special spaces for each of you. You can teach each other to refrain from interrupting each other when you hang your “Do Not Disturb” sign at the entrance to your own special space. And you can share many of the wonderful things you are doing when everyone is gathered at the supper table.
You will find that by changing your surroundings to meet your most important goals, you will feel a new excitement in life, a new confidence, and a new respect for yourself. And by following your example, each of your family members will feel more excited and respected than ever before. The atmosphere in your home will change from dull to dynamic — and from resentful, frustrated, or stressful to excited, confident, and respectful. What could be a better return on investment?