Forbes - April 14, 2020
I recently chatted with Erin Warren—two-time Luge Olympian and President of the Board of the US Luge Association—about her training experiences. Erin offered three tactics to help you accomplish your goals. Her advice is especially resonant now, in this global experience where work has become disrupted and distractions abound.
Get Back to the Basics
You may have a big goal that you’ve been focusing on for the past six months; yet the world situation may mean your goal is currently untenable. Be realistic about what you can and can’t do right now. Take a step back and reassess.
“This is a time of rebuilding and getting back to the basics,” Erin states. “Build out what your goal is, for just today.” In other words, look at near-term goals you can accomplish right now. Go for the small wins. For example; have you been thinking about writing that young adult novel, yet putting it off because you’re too busy? A “getting back to basics goal” may be writing 200 words a day. This goal is almost too small for you to fail—that’s the point.
Let the modest goal ground and center you. Focus on getting the details right. For example, it may not be feasible to train for the race you have scheduled in your calendar—but you can get out and run for a short while to release those endorphins. Erin spoke of the importance of endorphins to keep us healthy and positive in the coronavirus crisis. A short run helps achieve this dual goal of health and happiness. That’s a win for the day.
Build Out Structure in Your Day
Many of us balk at scheduling each hour of our days. Yet Erin stated that elite athletes build a structured day to meet their goals. Map out each hour—note what you are going to do and how will you measure it. This can be even more important as we all work at home. As Erin said: “Having structure frees up your mind to focus on the right things.”
When you have too much freedom or ambiguity in your schedule, nothing gets done. Wiggle room creates unused pockets of time where you might surf the web aimlessly, watch a rerun of Gossip Girl, or engage in other distracting activities that steal hours from your day. Create a visual calendar for your day and outline what you will be working on each hour. Include time for pursuing your hobbies and exercise to ensure you don’t get caught in the hamster wheel of 24/7 work.
Keep Perspective During This Time
Amidst this pandemic, we all have our own disappointments. Erin mused that that this year, there will not be a lead in the 2020 school play or the 2020 tennis high school champion. She also spoke of the disappointment athletes must feel around missing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Universally, we have frustrations about potential goals missed.
“We are all in the same boat, so it’s important to keep it in perspective,” Erin said. We’ve all been forced into a new way of operating. You can mourn for a bit, but how are you going to move forward? Go back to the basics and create structure around now how you will operate in the new reality.
Here is a simple mindset shift. When I am on a call with a client, I worry about the dog loudly barking in the background when he can’t make it to his playgroup. Yet we are all in the same boat; we have young kids at home, barking dogs, spouses who wander into the room when we’re on conference calls, etc. Rather than think about how these “distractions” impede our professionalism, we could be grateful for the way we are all a bit more humanized. And we can still execute our work to the best of our ability.
Moving forward in a time of coronavirus may look different, yet we can forge ahead. Set small goals and claim small wins; build structure to each day; remember that we are all in this together. When we focus on what we can control today, we pave the way for a better future.
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