Staying focused while facing obstacles


It’s so easy to get distracted.  And when you’re not looking at what you want to achieve, when your attention is drawn to things that do not contribute to your goal, then you slow down and you might even stop altogether.

In my years of coaching in organizations I have noticed that people spend a tremendous amount of energy thinking about what others have done that they don’t like or what others have not done that they thought they should have done.

This kind of thinking can really distract you and get you stuck in a rut where you lose touch with what  you want to be doing with your work and with your life.  There are often good reasons for losing focus. Some of the most common that I have encountered are:

A feeling of injustice.  If people feel they have not been treated fairly, this  is something they might fix on for a long time, even years, until it is resolved (which is seldom the case in the corporate world),  losing track of the other important goals in their life.

Ending up in the wrong job.  Sometimes the job you applied for is not the one that you get, circumstances change and you might end up doing tasks for which you are not cut, or simply don’t like, or where you’re not using your skills.  This disappointment can lead to a lot of mulling  and again, losing track of what your important goals are.

A bad relationship at work.  This is a real spoiler that can upset every waking hour of your work life.  Whether it’s a bad relation with a boss, a team-member or a peer, a relationship turned sour will certainly occupy your mind and deflect your attention from what is really important to you.

These are all complex situations, and of course it is not easy to just dismiss them.  But you can put them to the side, or on hold if you will, while you take a breath and give yourself the opportunity to gain the helm of your ship again. Because after all, there is nothing more important than living according to your values, going in the direction that you want and fulfilling your dreams, whatever they may be.

The most valuable step to take is to reconnect with what really matters

When I work with coaching clients who are stuck in such a situation, we spend a good amount of time redefining and reconnecting to what is truly important for them, what do they really want at this stage of their life, personally and professionally, what are their priorities, what are they willing to invest all their energy into, what do they consider is “worth it”?  Once they have captured a sense again of what really matters to them , they can look at the situation that is causing the “stuckness” and re-evaluate it.  It might have changed shape, size, weight, clarity, importance…..

Then, taking action becomes a possible option

At this point they can think of what they might do about it, rather than let it parasite their existence.   We’ve thus moved into a more proactive approach.  There are as many different options for action as there are people, but typically they revolve around one of these:

  • Do everything possible to resolve it.
  • Find the positive in the negative.
  • Try to resolve it and if it doesn’t work, let it go.
  • Let it go, turn the page, move on.

Whatever action is chosen, a shift has taken place,  a refocusing on important matters, a prioritization.

That’s what  I like to call empowerment.  It’s not only about understanding that we have a choice, but it’s the enactment of that choice, even with a small step, that sets everything into motion again, from stuck to alive, from weighed down to soaring.  It’s when people get up, and actually take a step in the direction of where they want to go, when they make that phone call, have that conversation, take that decision, that’s when they know that they’ve focused again on their most important goal and they can move towards it with focus and single-mindedness.

Focus on your goal and keep moving!

Staying focused is essential to attaining your personal and professional goals, building your dreams. Focus creates energy. When things around you seem foggy, focus creates a direction. It helps you decide what counts and what doesn’t. It clears the road of unnecessary distractions. It keeps you moving towards what you want.  Now that’s worth trying out!

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Saba Imru-Mathieu is an Executive Leadership Coach and Senior Coach Trainer who works with global organizations.  She holds a Masters degree in leadership studies and her current doctoral research focuses on how coaching capabilities contribute to global leadership.


©2016 Saba Imru-Mathieu, Founding Partner, Leaders Today
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1 reply

  1. You do an excellent job of describing the many reasons for “stuckness” and the feeling of finally moving ahead again – and offer very good pointers on how to re-focus to make it possible. I like the “soaring” that starts to happen again when you simply … take that step, make that phone call.


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