Today’s posting is going to challenge you to… Sorry, I’ll be back in a sec; I have to get a glass of water.
Okay. I’m back. As I was saying, I want to… Wait, I just got an email notification. I need to check it right away. It’s probably urgent. Never mind. It was only spam.
Let’s try this again. But before we do I need to grab my headphones and find some high energy music to bless my ear drums while I write.
As you can see, distractions kill our productivity, prompt us to prioritize unimportant tasks over essential tasks, and inhibit us from fulfilling our goals.
From the moment we wake we’re inundated with decisions on how to utilize our time, with what feels like a million different things vying for our attention.
Without even realizing it our day can easily become filled with distractions that keep us busy, and make us feel like we’re doing something productive, but are largely only diverting our focus away from matters far more deserving of our time and energy.
Indeed, how easy it is to get distracted in our present age of television, iPads, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and Kindles that offer endless opportunities for distractions.
How many times in a given day do you think the average person replaces critical tasks with less impactful activities? This can include any number of time-occupiers: playing games, browsing social media, watching funny videos, reading and commenting on various news stories, or whatever else offers a convenient excuse to be briefly entertained, while putting off more challenging activities that would provide lasting benefits in return for our time investment.
Don’t get me wrong. I love playing Clash of Clans as much as anybody. But we must remain circumspect to keep such activities in perspective and give them the priority they deserve in our lives – and nothing more. I also want to be clear that I’m not saying that everything that’s entertaining is necessarily a distraction.
The point I’m making is that anything that gains enough priority that it takes precedence over us completing our essential tasks has become a distraction that needs to be dealt with and put in its proper place.
And therein lies the problem. Many of us have a vision of what we want to accomplish. Yet rarely do we sit down and identify the essential actions that must be taken to make it a reality.
How can we possibly make the determination that we’re being distracted from the tasks that matter to us if we never take the time to define what those tasks are? We can’t.
As I recently made clear, self-discipline is extremely powerful. But before we can exercise the self-discipline required to achieve our goals, and not get distracted, we must first identify where our self-discipline ought to be focused.
This requires planning. Planning is an irreplaceable component in accomplishing any goal.
After all, a goal is absolutely useless without a plan to accomplish it.
It’s great to say you want to lose 30 pounds of fat. But, without an actionable plan, this isn’t a goal; It’s a wish.
Moreover, the effectiveness and comprehensiveness of an action plan is inextricably tied to the likelihood of achieving the intended end result. Never forget this.
This is why training and nutrition plans, like those contained within my Ripped Out program, tend to be very effective. They provide a tried and tested action plan to take those with physical transformation goals from where they are to where they want to be.
It takes all the effort out of creating their own plan and then second-guessing its effectiveness every step along the way.
I provide the tested plan that’s been proven to effectively provide the intended results. Of course, it goes without saying that the self-discipline required to not get distracted and follow the plan is on them.
As it pertains to eliminating distractions, any solid action plan will give you a way of objectively determining when there are less essential activities getting in the way of your success.
For instance, let’s consider the goal of losing 15 pounds of fat in 3 months. A portion of the action plan may look like this:
- I will consume fewer than 2,000 calories each day.
- I will wake up at 6 am to exercise Monday through Friday
- I will spend 30 minutes performing cardiovascular exercise 5 days each week
- I will spend 30 minutes doing resistance training at least 3 days each week
- I will not eat fast food or drink soda more than one day each week
- I will limit my daily carbohydrate intake to 150 grams
You can see that having an action plan like this allows you to evaluate where other things may be getting in the way.
For example, you may find that you miss a couple of training sessions because you stayed up too late watching television and overslept. In that case, late night television is a distraction and needs to be put in its proper place. Not getting enough rest can also wreak havoc on your physical appearance (see this article: Sleep and Weight Loss: How Not Getting Enough Sleep Will Damn Your Fat Loss Efforts.
Perhaps you missed a workout because after waking you laid in bed meandering around on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. After recognizing this as an unhealthy distraction, because it kept you from following a critical task in your action plan (i.e. getting out of bed and exercising), you make a new rule for your action plan that you’ll only get on social media after you’ve completed your morning workout.
Or maybe you find that you consumed more carbs than you planned for 3 days during the week because walking by the snack machine at work tempted you to eat a Snickers. It’s a distraction, so you decide to take a different route to the restroom that doesn’t cause you to walk past your source of temptation.
By the way, we all have certain temptations to be distracted or cheat on our goals that are more difficult to resist for us than others.
When we identify distractions that are particularly difficult to resist it’s best to do everything we can to avoid situations that allow these things to tempt us altogether.
This is precisely the advice Jesus gives us in the Sermon on the Mount when He says, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Jesus is referring to things that tempt us to sin, of course, but the point is still perfectly applicable to anything that tempts us to cheat on our goals, as well. If something tempts us to the point that it distracts us from achieving our goals – goals we’ve determined will improve our lives – then we need to be diligent in doing whatever is necessary to cut it out of our lives.
As Jesus’ metaphor aptly communicates, this may hurt at first, but it’ll be a massive blessing in the long run.
So, if Oreo cookies are your kryptonite, keep them out of the house and don’t walk past them at the grocery store. Besides, whatever aisle they’ll be found in will contain nothing worth eating anyway.
Ultimately, you have to decide what you really want in life and follow that decision by aligning your actions with what you’ve determined to matter most to you. This is where the goals of most individuals go awry.
Taking action is the most demanding and onerous piece of the goal achievement puzzle. It’s a grind.
Exerting the self-discipline necessary to live in a manner that’s consistent with your goals isn’t easy. It takes a considerable amount of thought, constant reflection, and, most importantly, prioritizing. But this is where positive, lasting change takes place.
Simply having a goal (or set of goals) does nothing to improve our lives.
The improvement comes through the exercise of consistent self-discipline. It slowly accumulates as we take action on the tasks we’ve identified as being required to accomplish our goals.
After arriving at this realization it becomes self evident that in order for us to succeed we must be willing to eliminate anything that distracts us from acting in ways that are homogeneous with our goals and the actions required to realize them.
Distractions lead to failure. Failure is unacceptable. Therefore, distractions are unacceptable.
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