Refocusing

refocusing

Sometimes I fall into a slump. There is nothing that I’m terribly excited about. Nothing that gets me leaping out of bed in the morning. And that’s okay. Everyone has natural ebbs and flows in their lives. It’s important to let myself drift, playing with ideas, soaking up the sun. Sometimes though, I’m ready for a jump start back into being driven by personal goals and plans. And that’s when it’s helpful to try some of the strategies listed below.

  1. Make a list of goals (or add and reassess an existing list). It can be helpful to do it a little like a freewrite. Set a timer and start writing. Don’t worry about whether your goals are attainable, or whether they’re interesting, just write. Another similar exercise is to choose a number (it can be helpful to pick something lofty like 100) and write down that many goals. Goals all over the map are welcome, for instance right now my list includes: build and live in a tiny house, work as a counselor at camp and blog regularly. Sometimes just recognizing what your dreams are can get you back in action. Plus, now you have this list to refer to every time you want it.
  2. Do some research. I like to find more resources when I’m in a slump. Order books from the library, find new podcasts to listen to, watch an interesting video. Many unschooling blogs (including my own) are packed with resources designed to excite you. Subscribing to things (blogs, YouTube channels, dictionary websites) can be helpful, because then you don’t have to go searching next time you need a boost. They’ll give you a burst of inspiration just by opening your computer.
  3. Change you routine. Add in more time outdoors and social time. Both of those things can invigorate you again surprisingly quickly. When you’re outside, take a camera. Practice noticing the little things, things you wouldn’t see if you weren’t looking for them. When you’re with others, engage in meaningful conversations. All this helps get your brain going, pushes you to think more and in different ways.
  4. Focus on one specific task. Choose something that you’ll have to work for, preferably with a time limit (write a novel in two months, code an app before Thanksgiving, learn to identify ten bird calls by winter). The time doesn’t need to be short, but it also shouldn’t stretch years and years. If it’s to long it won’t feel pressing and in need of your attention. Make it a time limit that you have to work to me. Then really focus on that goal. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a slump, you have to create and execute a social science experiment before the end of October. If it’s helpful, give yourself accountability. That can be as simple as just telling others of your intention, or you could make the stakes higher (planning a demonstration on your deadline or putting money on the line are common choices). There are a few key things to remember when choosing your goal:
    • Make it something you want to do. Not something that will look impressive or that you think you should do. The idea of this exercise is to re-excite your passions, not force yourself to do something you find boring.
    • Make it clear. Your goal needs to be something with a specific end, so when you finish, you’ve completed the task. This is about motivation towards completion, not just an activity focus.

Which of these strategies might work for you? What ideas did I leave out? Let me know what you think about this, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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