Ever notice how sometimes it feels like the world revolves around everyone else? Instead of focusing on yourself and your goals, all your energy goes into being the perfect partner, or the best, most caring friend who ever lived. And while it's great to treat others so well, it doesn't exactly leave much room for your own hopes and dreams.
When things get out of hand like this, and you start spending 24/7 on the needs of others, it's possible for your goals to fall on the back burner. Of course it can happen to anyone, but it is interesting to note that women are more likely to give into this sort of self neglect.
"As young children, girls are socialized to be nice and to be more in touch with their own and other people’s feelings than are boys ... Boys on the other hand are socialized to be less attuned to people’s feelings, and to win," noted Kathryn J. Lively, Ph.D., on Psychology Today. As a result, "a lot of women have a difficult time saying no, especially if they think someone’s feelings may be at stake or if they think they’ll not be liked," she added.
It's hard to do, but when you start saying no to other people — or at least not prioritizing everyone else over yourself — it becomes easier to focus on what you want out of life. If that sounds too go to be true, I promise it's not! Here are some very simple ways to bring the focus back to yourself, so you can finally accomplish your goals.
1. Make Sure You Get That Precious Alone Time
Everyone likes to pretend alone time is a bad thing. We blow off our plans and then feel all guilty about staying in, when we secretly need it to live. So let's admit it once and for all — alone time is the best. It's necessary to recharge, relax, and finally figure out what you want out of life.
As Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., noted on Psychology Today, "Solitude gives you an opportunity to discover yourself and find your own voice. When you're a part of a group, you're more likely to go along with what the group is doing or thinking, which isn't always the actions you would take or the decisions you would make if you were on your own." Enjoy that alone time, and use it to figure out who you really are.
2. Write Down Your Goals And Look At Them Often
Once you have time to figure yourself out, grab a piece of paper and jot down all your goals, hopes, and desires. I highly recommend having a hard copy of your list that can hang on your wall. It will serve as a daily reminder of where you're going in life. And, the very act of writing it down will help you head in the right direction.
According to Sarah Hansen on Lifehack.org, "A study showed that among people who wrote down their goals with actionable commitments that they put into weekly progress reports and shared with friends, 76 percent accomplished them. This is in comparison to a control group who were just asked to think about their goals. In this group, only 43 percent accomplished their objectives." Writing it out seems to make the goals concrete, and seeing the list holds you accountable. So get to it!
3. Check In With Yourself
Take a second to reassess your goals. Are they your goals, or someone else's? Sometimes we find ourselves knee deep in college courses we don't love, or blindly moving to a new city, all for the sake of someone's love. And this is totally normal. After all, how many people have gone to law school to please their parents, or blindly moved across the country with an SO? A lot.
Again, it's great that you want to make your loved ones happy — just don't let it get out of hand. Check in with yourself, and make sure your goals remain your own.
4. Learn How To Say No & Free Up Your Schedule
Resist the urge to fill every waking moment of your day with little chores, errands, and get togethers. While these things are nice, and sometimes necessary, it's doesn't exactly leave much time to focus on your goals.
To do this, you're going to have to learn that dreaded "no" word I was talking about, which may feel uncomfortable at first. But according to Leo Babauta on ZenHabits.net, it's absolutely necessary if you expect to spend some good, quality time with yourself. "One of the biggest groups of time eaters is requests from other people. All day long we get requests, in person, on the phone, in email, through paperwork. Meetings, assignments, requests for information, requests to be on a committee or team … these are all requests that will eat up your time. Say no to all but the essentials," he said.
5. Do Something Everyday To Reach Your Goal
It can feel overwhelming to look at your goals as a whole. Things like "land my dream job" or "travel the world" are too huge and intangible to be easily accomplished. So break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks. You might do something like "spruce up my resume" or "make savings account for plane ticket."
Once you've broken it down, make it your goal to accomplish something small every week, no matter what. As Hansen said, "The best gift you can give yourself is a well thought-out action plan. Take time to organize all of your smaller daily and weekly goals in one place so you can easily check your progress or send it to others to hold you accountable."
6. Give Up On Trying To Be Cool
Remember back in middle school when you'd pretty much do anything to be cool? These kinds of habits can roll over into adulthood where we snatch up hobbies and pastimes just to be accepted. In middle school you might have joined theater club, despite a deadly case of stage fright, just so you could be closer to your crush. As an adult, you might find yourself doing something similar, like feigning interest in the guitar just to hang out with the cute guy in the band.
But oh what a waste of time it is! We only have a short time on this planet, and none of us should be spending it doing things to impress others. Find hobbies that interest you, spend your weekend doing exactly what you want, and never do something just to be cool.
Focusing on yourself can feel weird at first, but stick to your guns. Snatch up that free time, figure out your goals, and then head off in the right direction with your own priorities in mind.
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