How to Combat Distractions

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Like most, I typically take the month of January to diet. While most years I cut out a certain food, this year I wanted to focus on being as clean as possible. Cut out bread, potatoes, alcohol, sugar, chips, anything delicious. I can have a cheat meal once a week (or more, due to my rollercoaster of a social life) but I’m sticking to eating clean as much as I can. While for the most part I’m proud of myself, for the most part I’m also starving (no, I am not actually starving myself). It’s only been a week, and it’s been a rough week. I’m a “see food eat food” kind of person. When I see someone eating, I assume I should be eating too. So when my live-in boyfriend is still eating at 10pm, my stomach is yelling at me to follow suit. When there are TV commercials of delicious, mouth-watering steaks and ribs and burgers and…before i get too hungry, you know what I’m saying. Then there’s social media – with hundreds and thousands of people showing me all the tasty treats they’re eating. Same can be true for business. You see someone working hard, then you need to work hard. You see someone simply getting by, and you think it’s ok. It’s not ok.

This leads me to my overall thought – the entire world is a temptation.

Advertising, social sharing, people in general are all more or less swaying you from losing focus of your goals. This holds true for reaching your business goals,  your fitness goals, your personal goals, and especially your diet goals. There’s always someone or something trying to distract you, and a majority of people fall into the trap.

You’re forced to think, “Well everyone else is doing it, so it must be ok.”

The reason it works so well for people to give up is because it’s easier than fighting through it. I gave myself a pat on the back the other day because my friend ordered a glass of wine and I didn’t.

Really? I’m proud of that?

I have to be, because it’s not something I would normally do.

But self control and focus are more difficult than we get credit for. No matter what goal you’re trying to achieve, there are a laundry list of distractions eager to stand in your way. The world is designed to fight against you, not for you, especially in America.

It’s interesting that I came to this conclusion from trying to maintain a diet for a week, but I am. It’s hard out there.

To fight for your convictions and stand your ground when so many people are telling you to give up. And that’s the reason that those that make it look like they do it effortlessly, because they keep their eye on the prize.

If it really was that easy, we would all be able to do it. And we would all be a lot skinnier for it.

My advice to you, and myself, is to confront the distractions head on. Once you identify the distraction, it doesn’t seem as daunting as it once was. No one is going to know you gave up except you. So make yourself proud in 2017 and say no to the distractions.

Get Disciplined, Not Motivated

The Challenge

It’s hard to stay motivated day in and day out. There are days when I feel pulled in 42 different directions, I’m lethargic, my neck hurts, and I start to think “Is this worth it?” My subconscious starts building this defense that maybe I should remain working for someone else and staying the course. It’s not so bad. It’s certainly less stressful.

There are other days when I see others so much farther along. I observe my boss pitching a new client with ease and finesse, knowing nothing but the name of the guy he’s speaking to. I see a guy I went to college with on CNBC selling a drone that recites your day’s to do list to you while trimming your hair. My younger brother calls to tell me he’s just been promoted and is making more money than me. My subconscious re-emerges to tell me, “You can’t get to where they are. You’re too far behind. It’s not ever going to be enough.”

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Motivation works against you. You wake up feeling energized and determined to control the day, and, almost in an instant, you realize you’ve let the day control you. In order to make motivation an ally, to keep your motivation always on your side, you have to achieve discipline. Without discipline, there’s no drive, there’s no ambition, and there’s certainly no motivation.

Depending on who you are, you can train yourself to be disciplined in a multitude of different ways. For me, my discipline is driven by my to-do lists. I’ll digress for a second with this quote by actor Ben Feldman.

“Goals aren’t enough. You need goals plus deadlines. Goals big enough to get excited about and deadlines to make you run. One isn’t much good without the other, but together they can be tremendous.”

This quote reminds me that your goals are nothing without a plan. That plan has become my discipline.

The Process

I begin each year, rather than with New Years Resolutions, with goals. I then break those goals up until quarters (deadlines). Each quarter, I have a manageable amount of goals I hope to accomplish. These are either baby steps towards a bigger goal, or the big kahuna staring me in the face telling me I must make it happen within the next 3 months. Then, at the beginning of each week, I write my personal goals for the week on a post-it note. This post-it note will be transferred onto each of my daily to-do lists for the week. My daily to-do list include tasks for, you know, my actual paying job. But that post-it note is always with me throughout my day, staring me in the face, challenging me to make things happen for myself as much as I make things happen for my company and clients. This week, that to-do list told me to write this blog. Mission accomplished.

There is nothing quite like crossing something off my to-do list. I think I might like the action of sliding a line through a bullet point more than actually accomplishing the goal.

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The Success

This quarter, I had to accomplish a goal I had been dreaming about for at least five years. I wanted to be published in the Huffington Post. I had researched the process last year (within one of my quarterly tasks) and this year I was determined to make it happen. And this quarter, I accomplished that goal.

When I received the email saying my article would be published, it was a Monday morning and I was sitting in my office ready to take on another workweek. Instead, I became a child. I silently fist pumped onto my legs, squealing inside. I couldn’t believe that I had accomplished my goal. I was smiling for myself and myself alone. I did it. Of course, the accomplishment took motivation. It took determination, considering I had emailed editors a few times with no response. It took a timely, interesting pitch, one that came to me out of nowhere when I saw what a recent editor had written. It took passion, passion for the piece and passion for the goal. But ultimately, all these things would be nothing without discipline. The discipline it took to follow editors I related to. The discipline to write on others’ articles on a consistent basis to understand the tone and structure of the writing. And, ultimately, the discipline to achieve this goal on deadline.

Now, while this process may seem trivial, time consuming or confusing to you, it works too well for me – so well that I was actually impressed with myself (which doesn’t happen often). I am disciplined to deadlines and to-do lists. Without them, I lose motivation.

The next step

Now, it’s time to ask yourself – What drives your motivation? What part of your process needs discipline? How are you most encouraged? How are you motivated to work? Some people need a drill sergeant, some need an accountability coach, some just need personal time. Start with figuring out what will make you more disciplined. Once you’ve determined that, you’re ready to go for the goal.