Getting from Today… to the Life You Want

STRUCTURE and routine provide the framework for creating the life you want. The trick is in the balance, because, just like anything else, you can have too much of a good thing. Too much routine may mean you’re “stuck in a rut”. Not enough means you may be sleeping a lot and doing whatever you feel like doing whenever you feel like it….but you’re not getting anywhere. It’s hard to get the balance right without a regular connection with a trusted team of supporters.

From Being Laid Off to Empty Void

When you’re laid off, you’ve been tossed out of your routine. All structure is gone. There was an order and predictability to your life that suddenly disappeared, replaced by a sudden vast emptiness, one day after another. Sound familiar? Sure, when I was laid off I was in a state of euphoria at first, loving the freedom from the tyranny of alarm clocks and commuting, and the chance to sleep in and unwind. That got old quickly. I realized that even though I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing next, I needed some structure and goals. So I hired a coach and who guided me through the self-discovery and exploration process. We worked together for a year. Now I have a Vision and a Plan and a Purpose. I work from a home office, and I can set my own hours. I love it!

Staying Focused or Getting Distracted?

BUT, I used to fall into all kinds of distraction traps that diverted me from my purpose and took up way too much time. Here are a few of them:

  • Open up my email first thing in the morning and read a few hundred email messages. Some of it is important, most of it is junk. Either way, it’s taking up space in my brain and in my attention. Whatever my focus was…I’ve lost it right out of the gate.
  • Making a goal for myself to get my new book outline written by a certain date…but telling no one else. Then, when life gets busy and I’ve lost my focus (see #1 above) and don’t meet my own deadline, who cares? No one else knew my deadline.
  • Getting excited about some brand new shiny object, a great new class that will reveal the secrets of the universe or the secrets of generating income faster, an amazing volunteer project to throw myself into…instead of gluing my seat to the chair and writing the book outline as planned in Goal #2 above.
  • I work from home. I start noticing all that dirt. The piles of laundry. The weeds in the garden. It all has to get done – and there’s no time like right now.

Guess what happens? Pretty much nothing. The life and income I envisioned was still sitting out there, waiting, but not getting any closer. And the difference I wanted to make in the world? Not happening. I was still doing the same old same old thing (and getting the same old results).

Maybe you’re a lot more disciplined than I was (I hope so!), and you keep your vision pasted right where you can see it, and you’re good at creating structure for yourself. You create your plan, stick to your routine and you complete your daily action items, and they’re the RIGHT action items. You know – the actions that will move you closer, step-by-step, to creating the life you dream of, to turning your vision into reality.

So What to Do to Stay Focused?

If you’re having trouble creating a plan and then sticking to it, then think about this. One of the key pieces of Structure that you’re missing when you’re the COE (Chief Of Everything) of your own home-based operation, is the social piece, the connection to other people. You absolutely need your own personal team of advisors, formalized enough that each team member tells the others what they intend to do, and then in the following meeting report on their progress. You can read my thoughts on mastermind groups and the need for a personal success team right here.

The best advice I’ve heard this year came from productivity expert Alex Mandossian at his Teleseminar Reunion event earlier this year. Here it is:

  • Do the most important thing first each day.
  • Do not check email until you’ve accomplished that most important thing.
  • You get a lot more done when you do one thing at a time and focus on that one thing.  You may feel like you’re getting more done when you multi-task, but in reality if you’re simultaneously writing a blog post, in the middle of a phone meeting, checking email, and feeding the dog, you’re not. (Check out yesterday’s article on what the Internet is doing to your Brain!)
  • Find someone you can put to work (a vendor, an intern, a student) doing whatever it is that you don’t like doing. For example, if you want to make a name for yourself as a speaker or singer, do more speaking or more singing, and find someone else to do the video and audio recording and editing and all of the technical back end stuff. Someone else LOVES that kind of work, and needs the  paycheck or the experience.

None of this is new, is it? But sometimes we need to hear someone else say it, and it clicks. “Aha!” we say, as a light bulb goes off in our head. When you join a mastermind group or meet on a regular basis with a study buddy, you get the benefit of other people reminding you. Naturally, you aren’t looking for someone determined to dispense advice when you haven’t asked. But, if you’re expressing frustration at some challenge that confounds you – not enough hours in the day, for instance, your personal team of advisors can step in and remind you of some of these basic productivity secrets.

I’d love to hear from you. How do you keep yourself focused on getting the most important things done each day?


  1. Kellie Frazier
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    This post is full of great points and helpful information that is food for thought. It’s never been more important to get together with people who have like interests as when I started my Vision~Power~Action plan. (Like how I smuggled a donkey just then?) :-)

    Louise I’m thankful for you and it’s been a privilege to watch how far you have come in such a short amount of time, and to see your success build. Working together on a project that will potentially help thousands of others, like us, who want to join forces to create excellence for others is very exciting.

    Great job on the post!

    Kellie Frazier
    dot com

  2. Linda
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    You have brought up some fantastic points, Louise. Have your own business is both a blessing and a challenge. What I find helps me is to make a “To Do List” every evening for the next day and week ahead. I read it first thing in the morning and it sets me on a track to getting all the most important things done. Then, because I have the privilege of my own business ( I can fill in my time with things I want to do. Without my To Do List I would be lost — it keeps me focused, committed to the important things, and gives me a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day when I get to Check Off all the tasks I’ve completed.

  3. Posted August 2, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    You are Vision * Power * Action in motion!

    Structure, System and a great Team are even more important in your situation, when your vision is taking shape, your business is accelerating, and customers, partners and opportunities are showing up, more and faster.

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