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Focus: Don't Break The Chain

I have a simple, yet powerful and effective method, to help you stay on track with any kind of goal, or New Year Resolutions you may set for yourself in the future.

This will seriously help you to focus, as you work towards any target i.e.: prospecting X number of customers a day, manufacturing X number of widgets a day, losing weight, getting fitter, cutting sugar from your diet, writing X number of pages of your book per day, or saving a certain amount of money by packing your own lunch, rather than buying it in every day. Anything you have previously started with gusto, and quickly lost the momentum for, will benefit from you implementing this simple strategy.

First of all you will need to either create or purchase a year planner or calendar, similar to the example accompanying this article. The bigger the better. I use the Sasco Year Planners because I can see an entire year in one go, but that's not essential if you don't have the necessary space. Neither is this an official endorsement, other year planners are available!


The following method is as simple as mud. On Day #1: do your thing, whatever it may be. Maybe you have set yourself a target of walking five miles a day, but your current fitness level won't allow that just yet, so you have to build up to it - under advisement from your medical professional of course. So Day #1 you walk one mile. Excellent. When you get home put a big, bold, red cross in the box with the day's date in it. Repeat. Day #2, maybe you can walk 1.25 miles - fabulous, now put another big, bold, red cross on the calendar. Continue.

After Day #2 you have created a chain, a short chain, but a chain nonetheless. Your mission now is to not break the chain. Short of being on fire with a stick in your eye, you must vow to yourself to walk every day, and by doing this, you will be amazed with how quickly you become noticeably stronger and leaner. Not only do you have the chain to maintain, but now you're seeing and feeling the physical, mental and emotional results of becoming fitter, so you're going to be more inclined to keep it going on two levels. The bigger your why, the easier your how.

If time won't allow a full five mile walk every single day, don't waste a whole day and break the chain, do something and walk as far as you can. If you feel demotivated and bleurgh about setting out in the cold or wet weather, just remember there is no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothes. Improvements are never made with excuses.


Let's pivot this to writing a book. The worse thing you can do is open your eyes in the morning, groan and think: "Urgh! I have a 500-page book to write today!" That's enough to send anyone back under the covers. If you change your thinking about the task ahead of you, you can change the reality you live in whilst achieving it. This will then improve your mental and emotional well-being, as your mindset is set to STRONG, POSITIVE AND IN CONTROL, rather than WEAK VICTIM AND HELPLESS. So how do you write a 500-page book? By not writing a 500-page book. You think I've lost the plot now, don't you?

Let's say you have to write a 500-page book, and you have one year to write it. A year is 365 days, but you're not going to write every single day, as we all must rest from time-to-time. So, let's give you every weekend off, which takes us down to 261 days. Then let's give you two whole fortnights off, which takes us down to 233 days. Now divide your 500 pages by your 233 writing days, and you have to write 2.15 pages per day to reach your goal. This is easily achievable, yes? It's how you eat an elephant baby; one bite at a time.

Now we can apply the chain method. On your calendar, you can shade out every weekend and an additional 28 days, in whatever combination you choose. The remaining days however are expecting a big, bold, red cross in them - or you've broken your vow to yourself. The beauty of this particular example is, once you've written your 2.15 pages for the day, it's highly likely you've now found your flow, you're in the zone, and highly energised into writing many more pages than first allotted. Keep going like this and you'll submit that book for editing far earlier than scheduled, to much amazed acclaim - and who doesn't want that?! My teenage daughter uses this method for her homework assignments, and regularly blows the doors off at school; I highly recommend it. Big tasks, smashed into small tasks, makes the task accomplishable.


One other tiny tip for the writer's out there: when you stop for the day, end in the middle of a sentence, it makes it so much easier to pick up from where you left off.


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