Imagine This: It was a dark and stormy night. Christopher, 6’2”, ruggedly handsome with skin like bronze rushes in out of the rain. He steps across the threshold relieved to feel the warmth of the fireplace. He takes a deep breath and smiles, happy to be home. As he reaches to hang up his coat he glances into the dining room to see a sight that no person should ever witness. He stops dead in his tracks. His coat drops to the floor. There is a knock on the door…Suddenly… “Girrrlll! I saw those pictures on Instagram! I don’t know why he is with her! She is not even that cute! Hold on.” (yelling) “Hey, what movie are you going to?!
DISTRACTIONS! They will kill a good story every time. If you have ever watched a movie with a “real-life Narrator” (a.k.a. your best friend or Aunt Sue) speaking through the entire film convinced they will be able to somehow guide the characters on screen with their passionate criticisms then you can understand just how frustrating that can be in our personal lives, being distracted from our own life’s story.
I had been the QUEEN of Distractions! Whether it was binge watching a TV show instead of pacing myself and working in between episodes or talking on the phone with a friend when it would have been better to finish that song. I would make up excuses like “Oh, I can just do it tomorrow” or “I needed to chill out, I’ve been working all week.” Now, either of those can be plausible reasons for not getting your work done. Sometimes there is tomorrow (not always though) and rest might very well be the best thing for you at the moment only YOU know that. And only YOU know if you are allowing yourself to be distracted or if you are on your path and have done your part to the best of your ability.
As the former Queen of Distractions, I noticed that when I allowed my focus to be removed from my true desire I felt an overwhelming about of guilt. When I felt that guilt I would distract myself even more. If I didn’t write the song and watched TV instead I felt guilty and then to distract myself from the guilt I would eat some ice cream. It made me feel better. Or when I really felt guilty I would play my “Good Samaritan” card and check on a friend that I knew would have me on the phone for hours listening to their life’s drama. I would offer my advice, they would thank me, I would feel good, they would feel good and I would have successfully talked away my writing and creating time then I would rush off to bed feeling questionably satisfied. “I did a good thing for my friend,” I would say. Yet, my heart knew that I’d put myself on the back burner unnecessarily.
“You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one.” –Tom Kite
Although distractions can appear on the surface level to simply be a lack of self-discipline. They can also be much deeper, they can have their roots in insecurity and doubt. I believe my bouts with it definitely had their roots in those areas. In retrospect, I found that I would look for significance in the areas I knew I would have guaranteed success. I knew that encouraging my friends brought joy to my life and that I was pretty good at it but I didn’t always feel the same way about getting my music played on the radio. I knew I would find pleasure in binge watching that show because I could immerse myself in the characters and their drama which would provide a satisfying timeout from my own. During that time, I found that even the things that are on your “Life Goals” list (i.e. making lots of money, marriage, having children, going skydiving, etc.) can be a distraction in certain ways. Imagine this: Your deepest desire is to open up a bakery but you are having trouble gathering the funds and your business partner just ran off to the Galapagos Islands for a month with a guy she met two weeks ago and you are wondering why you are still business partners. You feel low and majorly frustrated, then in walks, Prince or Princess Charming and you begin to completely immerse yourself in the freshness of that relationship. After two months, the relationship begins to sour and you feel unappreciated. You would like to re-focus on your work with the bakery but for some reason, it is less painful to yearn for this broken relationship, even though deep in your heart you know it is not really for you. Somehow you feel like you are more in control of that “on and off” dating situation than you feel you are of your dream. Next thing you know, you look up and six months have gone past and you are still in the same place with the bakery plus now you have a broken heart because you have chosen to hold onto a relationship that was over six months ago. Feel free to enter your own stats but does any of it sound vaguely familiar?
Distractions all in all aren’t bad things. I believe they are tools that we create to keep us from feeling pain. I think they are there to give us time to arrive at the point when we feel strong enough to deal with our real issues head on. I think the key is to be conscious of it and not go blindly down the rabbit hole thinking that it is more than what it is. Let the distraction serve you if you choose to allow it. Let it provide you with the temporary comfort while you build your strength to do what you know you dream to do. There is nothing wrong with watching a TV show but it might serve me better to watch an episode and then turn it off. Take 15 or 20 minutes to write down how I am truly feeling with regard to my dream. Do I feel stuck? Do I need help? What is really holding me back? Writing this stuff down can really be therapeutic. Then I can watch another episode if I want but this time, I took a step toward my goal instead of completely avoiding it.
We shouldn’t be afraid to start where we are. Usually, it means getting yourself to a place where obtaining your dream is more important than the obstacles that seem to be in the way of it. Eventually, you will get to a point where you feel more in control of your destiny because you have acknowledged your reservations. You listened to yourself, your true self. Sometimes that is the greatest barrier to cross.
“Your life is your greatest story; don’t allow distractions to prevent it from being told.” –Audra Bryant
Review my week. Write down how I have allowed myself to be distracted.
Make an agreement that at least one day in the next 7 days I will write down the reasons I have allowed the distractions.
Review my reasons. What are some practical things I can do to provide solutions to these issues? (It might be helpful to go over this list with a person that I trust to help me generate ideas.)