In every success story, the longest chapter is the one about determination.
While success demands many things from us, willpower and determination always come up at the top of the list. Many people believe that we are born with determination and those that succeed are simply the fortunate ones who are born with an abundant supply. But if you ask any successful person they will tell you they were not born with more determination; they always found a way to harness and use what they have more effectively.
According to Harvey Deutschendorf, there are several ways to harness your determination and stay focused:
1. Set up your day the night before
Before you go to sleep, make some basic decisions about what you will do tomorrow, such as what you will wear, what you will eat for lunch, and the route you will take to work. It is easier to pack a healthy lunch the night before than to decide what you are going to have with a hot dog vendor parked in front of your workplace.
The same applies when it comes to spending money. Decide on a budget and stick to it.
Make a decision the night before that you won’t check your emails or surf the net before you have finished the more important tasks that need to be completed. Stick to your schedule and at the end of the day close your eyes for a few minutes and take in how good you feel to be in charge of your day.
Getting into the habit of planning your day in advance will remove your easiest decisions from the table, making it easier to avoid getting sidetracked and wasting time and energy on small, unimportant things.
2. Do the most difficult things first
The most difficult duties will not get easier the more we fret about them or put them off. We will only waste energy that would be better spent by just digging in. Get after the hardest job right away while you are still fresh and have the energy.
Research has shown that our minds are sharpest in the morning and that is when we should tackle the tough jobs. After these are out of the way, we can relax and take care of the more routine work that doesn’t require much in the way of mental strain, ability, and energy.
3. Eliminate distractions and time wasters
Real emergencies will come up and we have to deal with them. The majority of situations that do come up to distract us are not emergencies and do not require us to respond right away. Many of these situations will resolve themselves on their own with time.
Responding to these requests immediately will only set you up to receive more. By not responding, you are sending a message that you are a strong-willed, focused person who is very busy and over time you will be bothered less by trivial, time-wasting matters.
4. Regenerate and keep up your energy
Take a quick break when working on something if you feel your energy fading. Take a brisk walk, run, stretch, or do whatever creates results for you to take a brief retreat from the work and regenerate. You will come back to your task with renewed vigor and a sharper mental focus.
Instead of eating a large meal at lunch, snack on healthy foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables during the day. Drink lots of water and get into a regular exercise program. Arrange a routine with these matters so that you don’t have to think about them; they just become part of your daily regime.
5. Constantly remind yourself of your ultimate goals
Create a vision board, a mind movie, or some system that serves as a constant reminder of what you are working toward. The “why” behind the goal is crucial as it will serve as a motivator.
Suppose the reason that you want to earn $10 million is to start a school in a third-world country. Have a clear vision of what the school would look like so you can imagine it on a regular basis. Set aside regular time daily, if only five minutes, to visualize this goal. The more details you can put in, the better. Become emotionally involved with the visualization by putting music, videos, or anything that provides you with an emotional charge. The emotional connect is hugely important, as this will motivate you to keep moving toward your goal.
This post was originally published on FastCompany.com in July 2014. TheYoungProfessionalGroup.com takes no credit for the work of the author.