A quick exercise to get your focus back

Building a house. Hiking the Appalachian Trail. Finishing the scrapbook documenting the trip of a lifetime.

Dreams abound. They spring up when walking to work, taking a shower, and washing lettuce leaves.

When writing in your journal.

We wake in the morning thinking about what we would want to change or be different.

Some days it all seems possible and we are inspired and motivated to move forward.

Progress is made, lists of steps thought out and pinned up where we can see them. The vision board is put together. The belief exercises undertaken.

And then it happens.

The phone call or email that totally distracts us. The volunteer work we are asked to do, the head lice found in our kiddo, or an unexpected visit from a distant family member. Carefully planned routines come to a screeching halt and we are distracted by the most recent demands on our time. Life is like this.

But what often happens, after we embrace a distraction, is that we lose track entirely of our dream. Days or even weeks pass and we don’t take any valid actions that help us to move forward. The dream has faded into the mist at the back of the mind and when it pops into the front and center again, there may very well be a sense of hopelessness.

So many steps left undone, and life always getting in the way.

There isn’t time. Too much on our plate. Overwhelming.

(I can never have what I want.)

Any of the above is sad. Enough to evoke heartache in the most empathetic of spirits. We’re giving up on a dream or idea, throwing in the towel.

When this happens, we go on with our daily lives, filling our day planner with appointments and meetings, lunches and play dates, meal plans and laundry days.

Just writing about this sad set of circumstances makes me feel down. But we all do it.

We all have desires and dreams that we give up on when we are met with the demands of life.

We may be sad or angry. We might overindulge with food, drink, sleep. We might look sadly at our life and feel like we aren’t good enough.

We might wonder how the hell other people do it. How is it that your social media pages are splattered with stories and ads of how great people are doing with their dreams and intentions and you feel like you are stuck?

It might be time to try something different.

Grab your journal and give yourself fifteen minutes to do some exploring and regain your focus quickly, instead of spending days with negative self-talk and beating yourself up about getting off track.

What is one thing in your life that you are deeply grateful for? Write about this for two whole minutes. What’s so great about it? What are the feelings it evokes in you?

Coming from a place of gratitude, what is so fantastic about your dream or desire that you were pursuing that has been derailed?

What are the steps you have already taken? Include thinking time, research, phone calls, vision board building – describe the attention and action items you’ve given to this dream.

Read back over your first and second responses. Is this dream still something that you want to create in your life? Yes or no will suffice.

Then, what is your very next step? Is it making a new list of tasks starting with where you are now? Is it creating a new file on the computer and calling it “my book?” Is it taking the dog for a walk? Or calling the friend who knows all about voice recording and how to get into a studio? Once you’ve got that step, do it not or put it on your calendar.

Use these prompts to get yourself back on track quickly instead of wasting days and weeks wishing you hadn’t been distracted or feeling resentful for the life that popped in your way. Life happens. It’s just that way. And when it does we can divert our attention for awhile, but come back to focus without going down the trash chute of giving up.

Here’s to your dreams and desires being front, center, and getting loads of your love.

Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit saramarchessault.com.


  1. Sue LeBreton | 9th Mar 16

    I like the idea of using the journal to refocus. You are right that little distractions can derail us.

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