Being pulled away from a task at hand is something we’ve all experienced.
Some of us experience it more than others.
The difference between those who achieve their goals and those who do not is that the achievers keep their eyes on the prize.
There will always be Facebook, drama, hunger, phone calls, needy friends, pets, coworkers, a juicy news story, or a chore that you could be participating in instead of doing your work. It’s as though the brain goes out of its way to remind us of a thousand potential things we could be doing other than the challenging thing we’re doing in this moment. Even our thoughts can distract us!
Meditation is a prime example of this. A lot of people’s first time meditating goes something like this:
“Okay, I’m sitting cross legged.”
“How long do I need to sit here for this to be considered meditating?”
“Am I doing this right?”
“Oh crap, I forgot about that thing I was supposed to do earlier today!”
“How long has it been?”
“When is it over?”
With time, our incessant need to participate in distractions can be frustrating, especially if we really want to get a task done. And, if we really wanted, we could live in that distraction without ever doing what’s truly important to us. So it’s important to learn why we feel distracted and how we can get ourselves out of it. Below are 5 reasons we distract ourselves and ways that we can overcome this habit and move forward:
Reason #1: More perceived value
As humans, we will always be motivated to do that which benefits us more. If a coworker interrupts you at work to ask for a favour and you’re a people pleaser, then you’ll likely see their approval and appreciation as more valuable than the completion of your current task, and so you will say yes to them.
So we may be distracting ourselves because we see the new action as more valuable than the original. If this is the case, we need to remind ourselves of the value of our goal.
If we can’t clearly see a goal, recognize the benefits of achieving it, or believe that it is realistically attainable, then we won’t work towards it.
Rx: Get clear on your goal and its benefits, and make it realistic. Why is it so important that this goal is realized? Why is it valuable to you? Remind yourself of your goal’s importance every day.
Reason #2: Short term satisfaction versus long time fulfillment
If we’re on a diet, we may see eating cake at a birthday party as a greater emotional high than sticking to our diet. When we get caught up in this point of view, it’s easy to fall into old patterns and addictions.
Looking for short term satisfaction is something we do all the time, and the only way to overcome it is to up-level your inspiration. Reward yourself for positive behavior. Give yourself more to look forward to along your journey. If your goal is weight loss, then treat yourself when you stick to your routine. If your goal is to write a book, then reward yourself whenever you finish 20 pages of writing.
Rx: Positive reinforcement is powerful. Use it as a way to get you moving forward and as a way to track your progress.
Reason #3: Boredom
If we’re working on something that isn’t that interesting to us, we may find that a distraction like Facebook gives us more mental/emotional stimulation, so we opt for that instead.
If this is the case, make your task more interesting to you. How can you spice it up? Is your goal exciting enough for you? How can you make the process of getting to your goal more inspiring? Find a way to make your process mentally and emotionally stimulating for you.
Your greatest work will be birthed from inspiration. If there’s no inspiration then you will seek it elsewhere.
Rx: If your ultimate outcome doesn’t naturally get your creative juices flowing then it’s time to create a new vision.
Reason #4: Fear
Occasionally, the greatness of our vision will scare the crap out of us enough to distract ourselves from it. Working towards being our best self (no matter what that looks like) will require us to change and grow in new ways. We will need to shed old habits and adopt new ones.
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Sometimes this is overwhelming and we create roadblocks so that we don’t need to do what scares us.
If this is the case for you, then focus only on your next step. Sometimes, we look at the bigger picture and get so caught up in it that we cannot see that those massive changes were made from a thousand tiny steps.
Rx: Shift your perspective from big picture and zoom right in to where you’re standing. What is your next step towards your goal? Only once you accomplish that step should you permit yourself to focus on the next one.
Reason #5: Aimlessness
We cannot complain that we are not working towards something when we have not set our sights on something that inspires us. When we don’t take control of our schedules, something or someone else will.
Rx: What do you want to create with this precious time that you have? Who do you want to be? Where do you want to work? What do you want to have? Who do you want to be surrounded by? Create an awesome vision that you are so excited to make into a reality.
I hope that these explanations and remedies help get you unstuck and make the process of achieving your goals more enjoyable. If you have any other methods you use to minimize distractions, feel free to write them in the comments below!
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