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6 practical tips to build willpower & be focused

6 powerful tips to build willpower & be focused. Rock on!How are you doing with your new year resolutions? Are you feeling upbeat and motivated or defeated and a bit down? If you need a little boost, let me share with you 6 tips of mine to build willpower and stay focused…

I’ve already mentioned this in this article: How to get things done this year without wasting another year but it really does work and it will keep you focused. The feeling of achievement once you tick or cross whatever was on your list at the end of the month, is amazing. I usually aim to achieve five to six mini goals each month which cover the three main things I wanted to achieve this year (weekly date with Steve, make fitness part of my daily routine) plus a few professional goals (i.e. improve my photography).
This month, some of my goals included: learn how to use my new camera remote control (which Mila mastered above), set up a social media calendar and work out a few mnemonics to remember everything about my camera and settings.

Now that I’m aiming to use my camera more than my iPhone, I’m getting re-acquainted with things like aperture, shutter speed, ISO…all things I knew twenty years ago but they wouldn’t stick this time around. So for instance, my mnemonic to remember the difference between using F22 versus F1.8 is that at 22 years old, you are (usually) sharper than a 1 or 2 years old. Therefore if I use F22, the background in my photo will be sharper while F1.8 will be out of focus, get it!?

You have probably heard of “SMART goals” already. Do you know how this works? For goals to be powerful and achievable, they have to be:

  • Specific: they must be clear and well defined. An average vision won’t get you anywhere.
  • Measurable: include precise amounts and dates so you can measure your success month on month.
  • Attainable: set up goals that you know you can achieve and improve (i.e. run 5K 3 times a week first month, 6K second month etc to eventually run 10K 3 times a week).
  • Relevant: they have to be relevant to you and in line with your big picture goals.
  • Time Bound: give yourself deadlines to make sure you do them. That’s why I find writing monthly goals help a lot and force you to do them even if you end up doing everything the last week of the month.

Procrastination is a real waste of time and it is so frustrating. I find the best way to avoid procrastination is to write down just four things you want to do that specific day on a post-it note and start by the project you feel the least doing.

Close down all potential distractions (phone, your Facebook page, Instagram) and stay focused on this specific project for the next two or three hours. You will be surprised how much you get done when really focusing on one specific thing with no interruption.

Learn to shut out the flow of negative thoughts that run through your mind. The little voice that tells you you can’t run 5K or your photos are not good enough or you can’t do this or that. The best thing to do is to remind yourself that these thoughts are just testing you. I’m currently trying to teach this to Mila by getting her to focus on a ball in her head that says “I can’t do this” and to mentally kick this ball as far as she can. It takes a bit of practice but it does work.

I mentioned writing a list of achievement here but it’s really important you acknowledge your efforts, no matter how small they are. Writing a list of achievements really help to build inner confidence and will help you to shut further the little negative voice in your head because “you’ve got this!”

The same way you would encourage a toddler who is having a tantrum to focus on something else to take his mind away, you can do the same when you’re facing a crisis. For instance, if you have a writer block and feel whatever you start writing is just not good enough for you today, just stop and do something else. There is no point banging your head on something that won’t work today. It happens and rather than focusing on the negative thoughts, do something else like baking, going for a walk, going to the cinema, whatever will take your mind away. Chances are that after a couple of hours, you will feel refreshed and ready to tackle what you couldn’t do earlier in the day.

Do you have any tips to share to stay focused and motivated? If you do, I would love you to share them below.


  1. I am going to give the big goals/mini goals system a try. And set up an achievements sheet on the fridge for my children to fill out. Good luck with yr photography! X

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  3. Thank you for this. Lots of really helpful tips. Love the mnemonics idea. I’ve taken a few photography shirt courses, but like you said, it’s so hard to remember it all! Also, my problem is I fall off the wagon with practicing. One of my resolutions is to practice every day and wean myself off the I phone camera..

    • Yes same for me….I took a couple of courses (one crap one, one good one) but then I don’t touch my camera for weeks and I have to start all over again but I think now I’ve spent one afternoon trying to create a few mnemonics, it’s working.
      I have taken photos at different times of the day and each time, I got the light and focus right so I think I’m finally on it!

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