Distractions Getting You Down? Do you feel like you can’t concentrate during the day because you are so distracted? Are distractions getting in the way of your goals?
These sound like the beginnings to a really bad, late-night infomercial. When I was younger, I remember the lady with the fluffy blonde hair on T.V. saying, “Do you want to make more money? Sure, we all do.” And then, I remember, she went through the long list of career options you could have if you just called the 1-800 number and chose to get your “career” diploma. I imagine that if you went through this program, you’d end up with some kind of certificate or even associates degree. Did this help a lot of people? I’m sure. Especially those who were wanting a night-school, but couldn’t physically leave their home because of a varying number of reasons.
How many types of “Sally Struthers” (aka the lady with the blonde, fluffy hair!) advertisements are there? Get your degree, live the life you’ve always wanted, buy this workout program and lose 50 lbs., adopt this rule to get this amazing outcome in your life!
The truth is that any one of these programs could possibly work for you and help get you where you want to be in life. But, the reality is that millions of people spent, likely, millions even billions of dollars and started any one of these programs. But, they didn’t finish. They got distracted.
In today’s world, we’ve given “self-help” a more fancy name: Personal Development (PD). I love reading about how to better myself. But, I get distracted with actual, real life. I get all fired up and then what happens? My life continues. I continue waking up the same way, drinking the same coffee, reading yet another PD article or book. And every day: I’m the same. Do I have more knowledge?
“The U.S. self-improvement market was worth $9.9 billion in 2016. It is forecast to post 5.6% average yearly gains from 2016 to 2022, when the market should be worth $13.2 billion.”Click here for resource.
This personal development industry is HUGE! I do believe though, if we started realizing what our distractions really are and worked to delete them from our lives, the industry might shrink up just a bit or perhaps grow with a new genre: You’ve tackled your dreams, now what? What’s next?
I’ve mentioned before that I love self-help books and audio-books and even listed my current favorites in that blog post. I love learning new things about my career field, being a better human being, a better mom, wife, and, and, and. I like to read and listen to these because they are inspiring, make me feel hopeful and give me permission to feel like I can conquer the world! But, then distractions happen.
What are your distractions?
Let’s list the easy ones first.
The ones that we can clearly see throughout our day and if we give just a little bit of effort, we can stop these distractions. You don’t need me to tell you how to stop doing these things…you know how. You’ve read enough PD to get you through these!
Smart phones. Co-workers’ gossip. Procrastination or putting off a task that will further your productivity, only instead doing a task that lets you feel that immediate check-mark: cleaning the kitchen or windex-ing that one window that your dog breathes on and slobbers on when she barks (oh yes, the one that needs cleaning right. now.). Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Google. Kids. Drama in the office.
Now let’s list the not-so-obvious ones.
These are going to take action. Physical or mental. These are going to require you to dig deep into your habits and behaviors. You need to update yourself in order to get these distractions out the door. After the list, I’ll tell you what I’ve done for myself to “delete” these distractions.
Negativity. Nay-sayers. Internet Trolls. Addictions. Fear. Self-doubt. Rejection. Netflix, Amazon Prime or TV. Social media conversations. In the above “easy” list, I’m talking about the feeds, just scrolling and catching up on your “friends'” days. Here, I’m talking about getting involved in or fixated on conversations that are happening…local and national politics…really any conversation happening through comments that are nasty, ugly, demeaning and have gone way past the point of a simple opinion.
The real difference between the Easy List and the Not-So-Obvious list is really your mind. The latter gets in your head and can really destroy not only your ambitions and goals, it can destroy you as a person. The things on this list can destroy relationships, your family, and your career.
If you know me, you know I love my Bible. I love what I read in it and what truths God gives me to live my life. I understand that not everyone believes in God or has faith in anything higher than themselves. But, I do. If not for Jesus, I’d be so, so lost. There is no way I’d have any of the knowledge or wisdom or experience that I have today if it weren’t for him. So, let’s hear what He has to say about Distractions in just one little but mighty verse:
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)
If we break this down, first we see: Be Alert and of Sober Mind. What does this mean? Yes, we know that caffein and sleep can help us be alert. And, being sober, in our day-to-day thinking means saying no to anything that impairs our judgement – drugs, alcohol, medications not being taken as prescribed by your doctor.
But, think about my Not-So-Obvious list and why these things are so bad! What do you think surrounding yourself with negative thoughts, feedback, or external conversation does to your self-worth? It makes you negative! If you continue to allow nay-sayers to tell you how ridiculous you are, how your life isn’t what they envisioned, or even telling you how stupid and uninformed you are because of your beliefs about managing finances, abortion, or your marriage, then you ARE being distracted! (Side note: In another post, I will go through each of those distractions I’ve listed and give examples on how I’ve overcome some of them in my own life because if I don’t, then I’m just another personal development post without the follow-through!)
Those words can really start to dig at you and pierce you and can totally distract you from a simple task of getting on your treadmill. This treadmill that will allow you to accomplish your goal of losing weight. This goal of losing weight so that you can be the mom who plays with her kids, scores better on her cholesterol test and can go up a flight of stairs without being embarrassed at how heavy you are breathing. How many of you feel like exercising after you’ve been scolded or belittled by some stupid troll on the internet? Not me. Either I start to question my beliefs or I get so angry because of someone who I may not even know. And, don’t tell me: “Julie, those are just words. Ignore them.” I’m sorry, it doesn’t work for me. I replay those things over and over until they…devour me.
Delete. Block. Mute. Shut It Off.
Delete these things from your life. Do you know how many people I’ve blocked on social media? People I know and who are in my community and then people I don’t know at all. It’s not that I don’t care about them as human beings, it’s that I’m choosing to protect myself. I’ve lived too many years in a state of distraction. Block them so you can’t read the idiotic words they choose to write about other people – those words that fester in your mind for hours, days and weeks. Mute them in conversations. Or, take your social media off your phone. Just access it from your home computer. Let’s be real. We lived without Facebook over 15 years ago. You can go 5 days without looking at it. “But, it’s my job…” Yup, been there too. If that is the case, just do your job. You don’t have to go down the rabbit hole to do your job. You don’t have to read negative comments about something you support and love to do your job. Shut off the distraction.
Same with Netflix, Amazon Prime and TV. Are you getting almost addicted to shows? Do you watch 2, 3, 4 each night? That’s about 3 hours! What if you just stopped watching them? What would happen? The show would continue and you’d actually get something done. There is nothing about the shows that make you a better person. Nothing. If it didn’t exist, would you know any different? Let’s say you spent 2 hours working on your book or 1 hour working out each night instead of watching TV. In one “work” week, you’d have 5-10 HOURS under your belt. I think that is way better than being a sitting target for that lion who is waiting to eat you alive.
I believe in Heaven and Hell. I believe they are real places and the only way I’m going to Heaven is to believe in Jesus. Because of this, I know I have an enemy. And that enemy is the devil. And you better believe that I believe that he and his minions are prowling around waiting for every chance they can get to bring me down. How do I know this? Because it’s happened. I’ve been thrown off-track for years, I’ve invited that list of not-so-obvious distractions to live with me in my home and get comfortable with my family.
Going back to 1 Peter 5:8, the Bible doesn’t use the word weasel or even tiger. The Bible uses the word LION. Think of that power! Those claws, teeth, brute strength. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion…” Looking for what?? Someone to bat around? Someone to chase? Someone to trip? Someone to scratch? No. Someone to DEVOUR.
1. eat (food or prey) hungrily or quickly.
2. (of fire or a similar force) destroy completely.
3. read quickly and eagerly.
If we are not alert and of sober mind, we are vulnerable to distractions. Those distractions get us totally off course, off track and depending on the distraction, it can take YEARS out of your life, keeping you stuck in that place. The place where you wake up, drink the same coffee and complete your day in the same way as you did yesterday. Letting yourself get distracted by behaviors that make us, oddly enough, feel comfortable, normal, and steadied.
In my version of the Sally Struthers commercial, we would begin the same way (with an updated hairdo and slightly edgier power suit and definitely lose the glamour shots makeup look).
Do you want to make more money? Sure. We all do.
Just call this 1-800 number and we’ll hang up on you. Because right now, we’re going to list all of the things you need to stop doing. Right now, you need to stand up and start actually working on yourself. You need to take action Because you are in control of who you get to become.
Get alert and get sober.
You can read all the self-help books and personal development books that you can afford! But, if you aren’t keeping yourself alert and sober, you will fail. If you aren’t actually completing the actions, tasks, mental preparation it takes to get yourself to the promised goal of your current personal development program…you will fail. I’ve failed. I’ve read and read and then each night watched episodes of The Real Housewives, gone down the rabbit hole that is Facebook for hours at a time. Can you fit those things into your life? Of course! But, don’t let them be at the expense of where you want to be in a year. Stop the distractions. You DO have that power.
Julie N. Baker, May 2019