Distractions Hurt. They hurt your focus; they hurt your productivity; they derail you from achieving your goals.
Every time I think of distractions I immediately visualize Homer Simpson chasing a dog down the street, because it has a fluffy tail. Arms outstretched oblivious to everything going on around him. It’s a strong image that has stuck with me and one that allows me when I get distracted, to have a laugh, realize how stupid the distraction is and get back to focused work.
So how relevant, that this article on distraction features a dog…..my son’s chocolate Labrador, Milton.
I have a number of goals that I will achieve this year. One of them is a personal goal of re-gaining some fitness and drop some of the excess baggage I have accumulated over the last couple of years. With that in mind, my goal is to run the 10km version of the Gold Coast Marathon this year in July.
Now I am not a runner. I enjoy walking, enjoy the gym and played team sports in my youth, but have always found running tough mentally and physical, especially on my calves and knees.
With that in mind, I have mapped out a six month program of slowly building endurance so by the time July rolled out, my 10km goal would be there for the taking. The Power of Small Steps in action: starting small and building the distance as my fitness grows.
This is where my story of Milton comes in. I am currently doing a “time trial” every morning on a one kilometre circuit. Yesterday I chose to take Milton with me. When we make decisions, we should take into account a number of factors….Like the fact that Milton is a handful when we walk him, that he is a strong young dog, and that he loves sniffing poles, flowers and growling whenever her hears another dog.
Did I? No….I just thought it would be a good thing to do.
What followed was a comedy of errors over 5 and a bit minutes, in which Milton did what Milton does. He bolted from side to side, almost dragging my arm out of the socket; almost causing me on a number of occasions to trip over him. He growled, he stopped, he sniffed, he got under my feet; all done at a 5 minute a kilometre pace. I was jerked all over the place without warning and I needed all my energy to keep Milton close and straight.
One thing!. Milton enjoyed himself. I am not sure that I did. The continual distractions from Milton created an environment that was not conducive to producing my best. Distractions like this will often cause a derailment..
This morning, on waking, I felt a small twinge in my knee, when I took off for my morning walk with my wife. I immediately knew it was due to the extra jerks and demands created from my choice of running with Milton. By the time we had returned, I was warmer and I completed my 1km time trial with no ill-effects.
The pain was exactly what I was trying to eliminate by starting small and building, allowing my body to grow resilient as the distance grew. The distraction of Milton almost derailed me. It was lesson of focus for me.
Now over the next six months, I have another goal. To train Milton to walk and run better and calmly. But when I want to focus on my endurance, and hitting my monthly targets for my 10km goal, I will be running alone and focused on achieving.
So what lessons can we take from this.
Think of your goals and your focus on attaining them.
- Are you distracted by the “shiny new objects”? (or fluffy tails in the cae of Homer)
- Do you do the “easy” parts of the goal map, and keep telling yourself that you will get to the more challenging aspects?
- When you make a choice, is it an informed choice?
- Is it better for you to work focused for a shorter time, than a day full of distractions?
What are you doing today to set you up for the best shot to your goals for 2015.
Tony Curl is a coach that empowers executives and business owners to align their actions to their goals and to achieve their desired outcomes. He is internationally certified and runs the acclaimed Four Pillars of Success program, the workshop developed from the concept of Dr Steve Maraboli and guaranteed for your goal achievement. To contact Tony please visit his website at Leadership, Life and Style.