The Steps I take to Refocus

We have all been in a position where we were struggling with what our lives mean to us and what we want to achieve from them. I have been in this situation for a number of years and I find myself slipping back into it regularly. While my aim is to climb out of this rut, I find it difficult to stay out of it. There are the steps I take to climb out every time.

1. Go back to my Motivations

I have written down a list of my motivations stating why I want to have an unravelled life. I try to remember to carry this list wherever I go in my bullet journal.

Whenever I find myself drifting away from the direction I want my life to be heading, I pull out my list and review all the items on the list. Often it is the action of pulling out the list that snaps me out of the funk I am drifting into.

If pulling out the list does not help, the list of items is enough to remind me what my priorities should be rather than where my head wants to take me. I will review each item on the list and assess whether it is still a motivating factor. 99% of the time it is still a motivating factor.

The 1% of the time where it is no longer a motivating factor, I will go back and review it further, or tweak it. I am yet to remove an item completely, but won’t hesitate to do so if it now a detractor.

I use my motivations list to bring my focus back onto what really matters in life rather than letting my mind control where I am going.

2. Take a Walk

Now this is abstract. Particularly when it comes to work, I take a quick five-minute walk away from my desk.

They say that exercise is helpful to focus the mind. While it isn’t known why we have a clearer mind while we go for a walk or do exercise, it seems to work, at least in my experience.

While you may not find that walking is enough, the act of exercise should have some benefit to you. My gut says that the reason the mind thinks clearer is due to the mind having a break from problem-solving the particular problem you are faced with, and thus giving it a rest. Also, you are allowing your subconscious to do the processing while you are focused on something else, namely exercise.

Using exercise to help focus the mind on what is important to you has not been proven by science, although there is anecdotal evidence that supports the idea that exercise will help focus the mind.

I take a short walk to take my mind away from what is troubling me at that moment.

3. Reducing Temptations

The reason we lose focus on what is important to us is because we have many distractions around us. By removing these temptations, we remove the things that distract us from our focus.

One of my biggest temptations, when I get into work, is to check my email. Not only is it a distraction, but I also use it to do things that aren’t important in my job. Every day I aim to do one important task before looking at my email. That way I can at least finish one task before being distracted by a temptation.

While it would be good to do away with some temptations (such as emails or mobile phones) sometimes they are a necessary evil. This is why I aim to do at least one task before being distracted by these temptations in my work life.

When it comes to home life, the phone is one of my biggest temptations, it takes me to a world away from where I am, a world that is often better than the current surroundings. I find it hard to stay away from this temptation, but it is something I am trying to work on. I have removed unnecessary apps from my phone to hold the bare essentials. One problem is that new apps can and do distract my focus.

I am considering getting a “dumb” phone as I call them, but they seem to be rarer than ever before. So I suspect I will always have a temptation with me in my phone unless I can get away without owning one.

Reducing temptations will help you focus on the meaningful and doing a task before looking at a necessary temptation will help keep the focus on what is important.


We all lose focus in our lives at one stage or another. I have three steps to combat the loss of focus I am trying to rid myself of:

  1. Looking at my motivations list
  2. Taking a brief walk
  3. Reducing temptations

I find that using these three steps in order is more often than not successful in bringing my focus back to what is meaningful.

What do you use to refocus your attention on what is important in your life?

Personal Development

We should be improving the various areas of our lives through personal development. There are many forms of improvement we can apply to the different areas.

There are various aspects of my life that I am seeking to unravel, financial, mental, physical and others. Each one will require a different set of tools.


One tool for unravelling your life financially is to set yourself a budget and stick with it. While the act of setting a budget isn’t personal development, going along and sticking to it is itself the personal development.

There are many ways for setting a budget, everyone has their own methods, but one that I found useful is Cait Flanders method. There are other ways as well, shared by Carrie Nicholson of Careful Cents.

We have prepared a weekly budget to make sure that we cover not only the bare essentials of life but also allowing us to start paying down our debts quicker so we can move to a debt free life.

Once I have automated our budget spreadsheet, I plan to make it available for all.


There is one aspect of life that some of us truly struggle with, and that is mental. We all get caught up looking after everyone else before we look after ourselves. We often dive head first into a depressive state that we have trouble getting out of.

I know that is where I am at the moment. I have made sure that everyone else comes first, often to the detriment of myself, and have ended up in a funk that I am struggling to get out of.

One tool that I have used is to just distract myself with work and the like. That isn’t a good tool to use, you are just hiding from the real solution.

A tool that I have found useful is to F*ck Feelings. To not let me emotions get the better of me. Again that does not address the situation, but you learn that you can’t control every situation.

You may feel that hiding by diving into work, or ignoring your emotions isn’t personal development, but I feel that it is, you are learning to do something new that will help you in life. It may not seem like much, but helping yourself mentally is a huge step.

Mental health is one of the biggest problems facing the world at the moment, especially in the developed world. If we are all down in the dumps, dragging our feet, it is difficult for the world to move forward.

Improving ourselves mentally, removing the negative thoughts is one tool in my personal development cache.


I find getting physical a challenge, not because of my body shape or weight, but because it is mental. I have a challenge sticking with anything for any more than a few days. How to get over that funk is anybody’s guess.

One tool is to find a training partner. Now that is my biggest hurdle so far, no one that I know who is already attending a gym is interested in following the program that I am following.

While I don’t wish to place my failure in the hands of others, one of the biggest motivators of people is other people doing the same. Now how can I stay motivated when I don’t feel a draw to the gym?

Other people are motivated by the results they see when their bodies start changing shape, the few attempts I made at the gym saw no changes to my body at all. Maybe there were but I didn’t see them. That has been my biggest struggle to date with gym motivation.

I use other people, but when it comes down to it, I have not seen the results I had hoped or any other results at all. I only have myself to blame.

So I would like some personal development in the form of trusting myself and the program I am following even if I do not see some results. I feel that trusting myself would lead to some significant increases in personal development.


There are multiple methods for personal development. Each of them can be used in many ways and each of them applies to different aspects of unravelling your life.

While this may not have been the most comprehensive review of my personal development, I hope that it has provided some insight into ways that can help you.

Money: Blessing & Curse

Now I have not written anything when it comes to financially unravelling my life. I am writing about it here as we discovered that children are more expensive than we had anticipated.

As a result of this, my wife and I are now thinking through our financial situation and how we will work through it. I will not divulge specifics, but general thoughts about our situation and how we plan to overcome this hurdle.

We have not been in a situation where our outgoing expenses are higher than our income. We have always had a growing or steady bank account.

We find ourselves in a different situation from anything we have experienced. Our income is lower than our outgoing expenses. We also know this will happen for a little while longer than we anticipated.

We have had to create ourselves a budget that we need to stick with. We have included all our current expenses, itemising each one into a weekly payment. Once itemised we have broken down our income into weekly payments so we can see a direct comparison between income and expenses.

Now that we can compare income with expenses, we can also see where we are spending extra money. There are a number of areas we have to pare back. The biggest expense we have to pare back is going out for dinner. While going out for dinner is a good experience, it put a strain on our budget.

While I could just sit back and worry about all that is happening financially, we are planning instead. Planning our journey past this hurdle that we are facing rather than worrying about it.

While I would like to put in place a shopping ban, life with children makes a shopping ban a little uncomfortable.

So how have you faced a financial hurdle? New job with more money? Cutting back necessities? Cutting back bonus extras?

Gratitude Monthly – July 2016

I have previously talked about sharing a list of my gratitudes I have journaled throughout the previous month. This is the first time I am doing so and plan to make this a regular feature here on Unravelling my Life to inspire you to create your own lists.
In July I was/am grateful for:
+ My wife and daughter
+ The roof over our head
+ Eye opening blog posts
+ Great food experiences from great chefs
+ The opportunity to have a job even though there are days I want to stay in bed
+ Books that reveal truths

There are many more things that I am grateful for, often things that I do not necessarily realise. Journalling has opened these up without me realising some of them existed.

Gratitude Monthly will return next month, with a new list of things I am grateful for.