Resetting Yourself
November 4, 2014 2:56 PM   Subscribe

What do others do to reset themselves and to bring focus and attention on the goals and objectives that they have in their lives? I do meditate, but I feel like I am all over the place and not very centered or focused on much of anything. I just feel very scattered and am not finding anything that really brings me back to a place where I know why I am doing what I am doing. Any suggestions from anyone?
posted by nidora to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
Journaling, planning and organizing your thoughts and goals while keeping track of your progress. Telling yourself that you're safe and secure and stable until you believe it and it strengthens your resolve.
posted by lunastellasol at 3:02 PM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I tried meditation on and off for a few years and so far it has been moderately helpful but not as much of a life-changer as I hoped it would be.

Exercise has been more effective at doing the same things: turning my brain off for a chunk of time each day, easing anxiety, providing perspective, showing me that I have the ability to gain skills by steadily practicing something over time.

Another thing is to have a little faith in yourself. This too shall pass. You will figure it out and find focus. Seems trite, but looking back and your life's ups and downs, I bet you'll see that you have had periods of more and less focus.
posted by latkes at 3:07 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cycle touring does this for me - even just an overnight trip. Something about the sustained exercise and camping in the wilderness just rearranges all the worries in my head and makes them manageable again. If you're not a cyclist, I imagine hiking would be quite similar.
posted by embrangled at 3:36 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

"am not finding anything that really brings me back to a place where I know why I am doing what I am doing." I find the "why" a little confusing--It is not clear to me whether you are distracted, having difficulty completing tasks or looking for meaning in the tasks. I assume you have goals and objectives per your question but not sure what you mean by not "centered". It could be quite a challenging situation but sometimes it just means stop all the analyzing and just start working on one task/objective until you have it completed. I know thread sitting is not proper but I do think a bit more clarity might be useful.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:47 PM on November 4, 2014

For me, getting away from my daily routine into a place that feels like "nature" is most helpful for this.
posted by salvia at 3:48 PM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've found that if I have to ask myself why I'm doing something, it's probably something I don't actually need to do. It might just be something I'm doing to please people I should have told to go to Hell.
posted by starbreaker at 3:50 PM on November 4, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'm a big fan of meditation and recommend it early and often, but when I go through periods where it's not working for me, I do something else that is mentally absorptive. My usual go to is vigorous exercise, specifically anything involving tightly choreographed steps, martial arts, yoga, etc. Basically, something that is by it's nature forcing me to focus on the activity at hand, thereby taking my mind off of other things while also boosting my mood and energy levels.

I've also warmed up to the idea of sitting down and setting an intention before undertaking goals. I'm not talking about anything elaborate or set in stone. Just a quick, simple sit down with myself about my reasons for undertaking the goal and how I would like to see it benefit myself and/or others.
posted by jazzbaby at 3:51 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Long distance bus or train rides ( city to city), if they're pleasant enough are one of the very few things that bring me a little away from my everyday chaotic confusion. Unfortunately they're not something you can incorporate into your daily life.

Oh, also long walks in an expansive nature setting ( without people and buildings and all that stuff), but again, this is sometime impossible in my daily life, at least where I am.
posted by Blitz at 3:56 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you have goals, but feel like you are too spread out, distracted, or ungrounded, and aren't moving forward, what helps me is to write it all out on paper (typing doesn't do it for me for this, but YYMV). Get it out of your head where you can see it and organize it. Then make lists, flow charts, diagrams, whatever helps you the most. Then break it down by when things need to be done by, Make weekly to-do lists, then daily to-do lists. Even if you only do one thing every day, just being able to cross that off the list helps you feel a little buzz of accomplishment and moves you forward towards your goal.

Keeping track of too much in my head makes me feel overwhelmed and scattered. Once I have things written out, I don't get that mental fatigue anymore.

Also, it may be worthwhile to get a mentor. I have gone through micromentor in the past -- it's a free service, and the mentoring is free as well. I've found some awesome, super helpful people who were able to help me get organized, give advice, and feel way more together.

Good luck!
posted by ananci at 4:03 PM on November 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

I meditate as well, but I have systems in place to keep me focused on goals. A simple system is to clear a space on a desk or shelf. Make it a "shrine." Keep index cards, post-its, or looseleaf next to the shrine. Goals, thoughts, etc., go on the paper and get put in/on the shrine. Be mindful of what's in the shrine or not in the shrine.
posted by zeek321 at 4:28 PM on November 4, 2014

Cycle touring does this for me - even just an overnight trip. Something about the sustained exercise and camping in the wilderness just rearranges all the worries in my head and makes them manageable again. If you're not a cyclist, I imagine hiking would be quite similar.

Yep me too, I have a stressful freelance career with no clear direction and all it takes is one night (or one month!) riding and sleeping in the woods to seriously reset myself. I always come back with a very clear idea of what I should be doing next or what my priorities should be etc. Highly recommend it, cycling is very zen and touring is like the ultimate self-sufficiency exercise.

If this sounds daunting google "s24o", it doesn't have to be some super man athletic event. Just go sleep in the woods and don't drive there.

(I guess hiking is probably similar but I've never been much of a hiker)
posted by bradbane at 4:36 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding journaling and lists. If you're stuck, maybe try doodling cartoons of special people or a place or item (trips? yesterday's routine? memories?), with captions of your impressions, what you like about them (like those Amelia Bedelia diaries, except private).

If you read/watch/listen to anything, write down your reactions in the margins, what does it remind you of. Small notes for your eyes only.

For a major reset, a personal day with no phone or email and limited entertainment (a whole day if you can afford it, might be hard with a family). Somewhere you can be anonymous and obligation-free for a few set hours.

(Another angle is one-on-one time, investing time into your relationships, from learning about family history to getting a younger cousin's perspective, lending a hand to a community project. Just, practicing ego-lessness).
posted by ana scoot at 5:33 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do a headstand (against the wall if needed).
posted by deadcrow at 5:50 PM on November 4, 2014

Testify, anaci! I *love* a good brain-dump. It's one of the only things that takes me from irritable to calm very quickly. Get a big sheet of blank paper, and a pencil, and just start writing. Get it ALL out of your head. Don't bother organizing it, just get it out. A "brain dump" is a great way to make sure you won't forget something, too. Don't let the burden of juggling things in your own head get you down!
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:02 PM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you have a good museum nearby, go and walk slowly around the exhibits. Don't take notes or make a big deal of reading any labels or other texts posted near the art: just look at the art in your own good time. Then go have a good coffee and pastry somewhere and percolate over what you've been looking at.
posted by zadcat at 6:33 PM on November 4, 2014 [7 favorites]

I've stopped keeping to do lists (although I do keep a weekly calendar for things that must happen at specific times), and started only writing down things I've accomplished on the day, as I do them. Small things, big things. I find it helps me keep momentum instead of stalling out in the face of uncertainty, but YMMV.

I've also started getting up earlier to keep up with winter daylight hours, and so that I can walk the dogs instead of getting sucked into Morning Internet. I like to think it's helping me focus and stay less stressed in a pretty stressful time right now.
posted by deludingmyself at 6:54 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I heartily agree with all the advice about getting out into nature or cycling to get your own personal thoughts in order. But there is a second step i've discovered:
I say this as a hardcore introvert, but seriously talk to other people. Specifically, people who can identify with a majority of the subject you're discussing, aka, your peers. If you can order your thoughts and statements sufficiently to get them to understand you, and then, ideally, get some feedback from them it will help add perspective and possibly inform your internal process. Their feedback may be right-on, or may be stupidcrapgarbage wrong, but the very act of communicating, reacting to other minds and reformulating may help distill your jumbled thought into more coherent ideas.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:15 PM on November 4, 2014 [8 favorites]

Something that really helped me get on track was a weekly reading club where a few people and I read through The Artist's Way together. We would read one chapter each week at home, and then meet and discuss our feelings, goals and progress. It was a great pick-me-up and turned into a great support network. I still do the morning pages two years later and it really helps me to feel in control of my life.
posted by winterportage at 8:56 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

The only thing I've found to work for me is go on vacation and do nothing but relax. I recently went for 9 days to Hawaii with my partner and all we did was drive around to different beaches, lay in the sun, snorkel, have awesome sex, read, and nap. I literally forgot what day it was while I was there and it was the best reset I've ever had. It was hard to leave, but when I came back to reality I felt motivated and energized and clear-headed.

Hawaii is obviously not feasible for everyone, but I highly suggest taking a week away somewhere pleasant, particularly with someone you enjoy spending time with, and just unplug.
posted by E3 at 11:51 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

A 2 hour walk alone by the sea.
posted by ead at 9:09 PM on November 5, 2014

What I do:

Write bulleted to-do lists in my private blog where my goals are laid out in achievable chunks. It creates this urgency in me to start completing each item, just to be able to enjoy the satisfaction of crossing it off the list.

Revisit/seek things that inspire me. In my case, it could be marveling at creatively put-together outfits featured in Vogue magazine, reading Frank O'Hara's poetry, trying my hand at cooking a beautiful and complex recipe, or watching Annie Hall for the millionth time.

Engage with people who are positive, accomplished, and generous in spirit. I get rejuvenated by the example they set through how they live their lives.

Also, I'm religious--so daily prayers, weekly mass, and reading the Bible are my main sources of spiritual nourishment that keeps me centered.
posted by tackypink at 2:02 AM on November 6, 2014

I use nights when I can't sleep for this. If I toss and turn for a couple of hours and realize I'm not going to get any sleep that night, I give up and start thinking about things that could be better in my life. I either fall asleep, or get up and write a mental map and a todo list of next steps. Win-win.
posted by gakiko at 1:37 AM on November 7, 2014

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