There is a familiar sort of scene in crime movies: The hero is in hot pursuit of the thief. She jumps in a car and tries to start it. The engine won't turn over. He's getting away. She's out of breath, looking around for help or other options -- trying not to lose sight of him. She tries it again and again and again, feeling more desperate each time it fails to catch. In the audience, we're getting nervous. We really want her to get this guy once and for all. So, we're pulling for her. Please car, just start. Finally, just as he's fading from sight, it does! And she's off.
Our big dreams aren't wily thieves, but they can be just as slippery. We might occasionally feel like we'll never catch them. This feeling can fuel a sense of desperation. It's now or never! This opportunity won't last forever! It's getting away! Do something! Of course, in the movie scene, we don't question the thief's motives or second-guess the hero's ability. We focus on the car -- the vehicle needed to bring these two together and resolve the issue.
Just like the car, you need an ignition spark to get you going at the start of the day (or whenever you're just feeling low on energy or focus).Don't curse your goals or doubt yourself. Direct your energy to a single daily practice that makes everything else possible. A small ritual or habit that gets you moving on everything else.
For me, it's a cup of coffee and a black screen. I commit to writing 500 words each morning -- no matter how many other things are on my to do list that day. I then go for a run. If I don't do this ritual, everything else for the day seems negotiable and I lose focus -- for days at a time.
Other trigger habits might be 10 minutes of meditation, a set of push-ups, a few minutes of journaling, or a morning workout. What's important is that the energy comes from within.
What's guaranteed not to work are these bad habits: glancing at the headlines on your phone, reading email or texts, scanning Facebook, or counting followers on Instagram. The energy for these comes from outside. Externally-driven activities are filled with distractions and little rabbit holes -- guaranteed to get your day off track before it's even started.
The key is finding the ignition or trigger switch that works for you. It's the starter switch that enables you to focus on all of the other activities needed to productively tackle your day and pursue your goals.
Regardless of what focusing practice you choose, make sure you don't give up on it after you've only tried to turn over the engine over once or twice. The reality is that the number of times you need to restart is irrelevant. The only thing that's important is that use your practice as an opportunity to start fresh and refocus.