desk-with-typewriter

The Art of Distraction: How to Stay Focused When You Have a Goal

I have a major confession:

I’ve been distracted.

For the last few months, I let money (once again) dictate the trajectory of my days. After I scored a two-book deal, I was ecstatic. I had a novel to edit! A second book to write! Goals to achieve! A new path to forge!

The deadlines loomed, and I marked them down, tucking into my novel(s) with happiness. Until a client came into my life that offered great money, was aligned with what I am all about, and even though everything inside me screamed no, I thought: “Why not? I can do both!”

And then? For the next few months, I abandoned my projects for the sake of someone else’s. This person’s stress became my stress. Her noise became my noise. I didn’t have time to even think about myself, my own projects, or my family, because this company was all that mattered. And hey, I was providing for my family, right? Because money is important. Because I want to be comfortable.

Once again, I got what I asked for.

But here’s the thing I have realized, once I shed that temporary-live-work-die-for-someone-else skin again:

I am never going to get to my highest level of income by working for someone else.

That will come directly from me.

When you have goals, dreams, and passions, it’s so easy to get caught up in “some day,” instead of working every day to get to the heart of what it is that you really want. I never became a writer by thinking about writing.

I sat down and just got it done.

And writing, these days, is only a third of the equation. Now, it’s about branding, platform building, marketing, and selling. There are all of these huge tasks to complete, and I want to hit every single goal, but I’ll never get there by constantly saying “yes” to things that don’t set my soul on fire. Or projects I don’t have time for. Or things that take me away from the very thing I have worked so hard to accomplish.

The Art of Distraction

Distraction is a funny thing. We sit down to work, and then? We check email, texts, and Facebook. We’re only doing it for a few minutes…hundreds of times per day. We don’t have the luxury of blinding focus like we used to. The pace set is lightning fast, and if we don’t keep up, we’re left behind.

Or so we think. If we don’t have mental space to figure things out, we just exist in the same hurried, jumbled cycle of repetitive thoughts and actions.

So, how do you resist distraction?

    1. Find your focus. When do you feel the most focused? For me, it’s first thing in the morning, over a cup of coffee, when the house is quiet and my mind is just breaking free from its fuzz. My ideas are most alive after a good night’s sleep, and I feel ready to tackle the day. Even if it’s only for a short time, it’s important to establish your most focused time of the day and commit to it to hit your goals. Even if that means you have to say no to something else to say yes to yourself. Or adjusting a few other things in your day. Make it a priority. And make your focus time your time.
    2. Stop multitasking. Multitasking is a myth. No, really. Your brain can only focus on one thing at a time, so get into the habit of completing one task completely before moving onto the next. This means no texting while writing that email; no checking just a few things, having conversations, etc. until you are DONE with the task at hand. If this feels impossible, it’s not. You are allowed to slow down.
    3. Think linearly. Think about your thoughts. How they ping back and forth from life, to work, to relationships, to friends, to food, to body issues, to guilt, to happiness, to comparison, to all the “shoulds” in our lives. In a word? It’s exhausting. When your mind starts to wander, stay on that topic. See it all the way through before you start bouncing around to something else. We are so used to filtering in information as fast as we can blink, that we’ve forgotten how to slow down, examine one thing at a time, see it to completion, and then move on from there.
    4. Just say no. If you are a yes person, raise your hand? It seems crazy to pass up potential opportunities, whether socially or professionally. Life is all about trying new things, connecting, and leaving your comfort zone, right? As I’ve said before, if it’s not a hell yes when an opportunity arises, it’s a hell no. If it feels heavy, if all you do is complain about it, then NO can become your best friend and allow you to say yes more to the things you really want.

 

You never know what beauty you can create from solitude, from focus, from saying no more than you say yes. Just because your life feels chaotic doesn’t mean that it has to be. Just because you answer every, “How are you?” with “Oh, you know, so busy,” doesn’t mean you must be busy.

It often starts with the busyness of your mind and sifts into every other part of your life. Clear out the chaos and replace it with singular tasks that will have you feeling calm, secure, and more confident to tackle your goals and complete them…

One at a time.