Have you seen the movie, “Up,” where the awesome and loyal dog has a special collar that says what he is thinking? In the middle of the dog praising his master and expressing his deep love and gratitude, randomly is distracted by something far less meaningful…such as a squirrel?
Sometimes I think myself and that dog have a lot in common. For me though, it probably sounds more like, “Let’s do what we are passionate about, change the world, BURRITO!” Or even, “I’m going to write a book to encourage people to pursue their passions and stop making excuses -oooo – a new camera lens…”
But sometimes the distraction is a lot heavier. My friend Ariel and I were talking the other day. We know our big pictures and our why’s, but yet have still found ourselves stuck in the same spot regarding our aspirations for a good month or so. Which tends to be the “but where do I start?” or “what’s next?” spot.
It’s a difficult place to be.
Knowing what you want to do and that it just needs to get done, but then feeling like something else maybe is supposed to happen in the in-between to be a magical push in connecting the two.
But then you’re just there waiting. And nothing is happening. You start to let the fear and the doubt settle. The anxiety sets in and then soon the panic.
It becomes too much.
You walk away.
That’s NOT what you committed to yourself! Or all the other people who you encouraged to do the same…pursue their dreams.
That’s me. I’ve definitely felt a bit stuck lately.
And this is me being honest with you about it. We have to be. We need each other. We have to spur each other on.
If you happen to be in a similar place, I am going to share a few things that I have found to be helpful when sinking in the quick sand.
1. Help Somebody else.
For me, this is the number one thing that wakes me up, real quick. I’m not sure why, but believing in somebody else tends to be easier than me believing in myself. Giving my time and energy to another’s endeavors eventually lends to a sobering reality that if I do exactly that, there is progress. Inevitably, I will come through to realize that I have some steps to take and then get in motion, and back on track. Just creating momentum does something very powerful, psychologically.
2. Develop a structure.
I found this quote the other day as I was trolling the internet instead of writing. It kind of slapped me in the face a bit (but I needed it), “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”- Mary Heaton Vorse. Yeah, so that. Basically, I need to be more intentional with how I structure my time. I already know how much time I should be investing in my blogging and writing my book. But I also need to make sure it’s scheduled. We schedule plans with other people. If you’re like me, you probably put it in your calendar on your iPhone so you don’t forget (I forget everything. seriously. I’m the worst.). We should be doing the same for our aspirations…scheduling and making time for them. And hold ourselves to it. Even ask others to hold us to it. Like with Ariel, we agreed we would both have made some progress by Wednesday. I plan to hold that commitment. But I will need a structure to make it happen.
3. Do something else.
This may seem counter-productive. But it’s not uncommon to not see past a certain point because we have limited visibility or perspective on something. Often, we are even too close to our problems and then just live in this bubble where we can’t seem to break through. I tend to get a lot of inspiration when I just get out of my house. I’ll lace up my shoes and go for a run. No headphones or music. No distractions. Just my brain place and the outside. It’s incredible what can happen inside our brains when we give it an opportunity to be used. During this time is when I tend to think about things I care about and the world and how it all works together, or doesn’t. I’m seeing things and others from a different perspective, not from inside my comfy home on the internet. Step outside of your usual realm and challenge yourself to look around.
4. Summon creativity.
Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this the best, in Big Magic. She treats and honors creativity with the respect that it deserves. She gives it a space, welcoming it. I know that sounds kind of juju-y, but why not? If I call one of my family members…any of them, and offer a seat at a table with some free lunch, they will show up. Because my family LOVES food. They especially love free food. So why wouldn’t creativity feel welcomed to show up to participate in the thing it loves to do. Create. But here’s the deal. Since creativity in its nature, is creative, don’t expect it to look or feel a certain way. It likes to surprise us.
5. Put away your technology.
Wow. Yes. I said it. And as somebody who has been in a career in the Tech industry for almost a decade, this is DEFINITELY necessary. Sure, use it as a tool. I’m typing on my computer right now. But guess what, my phone, it’s in another room. Where I can’t look at the screen constantly and check likes, comments or posts. I LOVE the internet, but it is probably my single largest distraction. All sounds are off. I am in full-screen mode so no dings or pop-ups take me away from my purpose. But if I can avoid it altogether, I try to. I just know I can’t trust myself. I need to keep my brain on the topic at hand, not on the fact that T-Swift and Kanye are feuding again. I’m sure it will still be there later when I re-connect with the world again.
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that there is a bigger purpose for us. We chose to pursue certain things for a reason. Keep that reason handy. You’ll need to remind yourself of it every once and a while. And then, when you need more than that, recap the 5 suggestions above and then get back in it. It will be worth it in the end, I am certain of it (and that wasting my precious minutes reading about the T-Swift & Kanye feud weren’t).
Ok, time for me to start with #1, myself.
What do you do to overcome distraction and get back on track? Feel free to share in the comments below.