Noticing when you get distracted can be a powerful tool for identifying when you are avoiding something. And when you can start noticing what you are avoiding, and you learn how to move through it, I promise that you are doing the work that’s required to grow. Here are some strategies on how to manage and use distractions to move through what you are avoiding and following your passion and purpose.
Strategy 1 – Get ahead of your distractions
So when you know you are about to tackle something you have been avoiding use this checklist to get ahead of common distractions. Some of these may seem silly but if you can go through this list and prepare for what will inevitably come up, it will strongly position you to complete the work that you have been avoiding.
- I have a cup of my preferred beverage.
- I have eaten something recently.
- I have gone to the bathroom.
- I have completed niggling emails.
- My kitchen, office, or desk is clean enough.
- My children are safe and sleeping in the house or safe and somewhere else.
- I have my to do list notebook or app to write down my “to dos” as they come up.
- I have my idea notebook or app ready to write down ideas as they come up. Capture your ideas here instead of doing them in the moment and getting distracted from what you are avoiding. For example these may be something like the following:
- A book you want to read
- A quote you are looking for
- Ideas unrelated to the task at hand
- A TED talk you want to watch
- A podcast you want to listen to
- A friend you want to call or text
- An email you want to write
- Now, set a timer for 20 minutes and start the work you have been avoiding and work for 20 min managing your distractions.
Strategy 2 – Feel the Feeling you are Avoiding
If you are still getting distracted and noticing that you are avoiding the work that’s required to follow your passion and purpose; there may or may not be a feeling that you are avoiding. As begin the task you are feeling something. By distracting yourself, you are avoiding the feeling. Ask yourself – what is the feeling that I have just before I start this task just before I get distracted. Every time you distract yourself you are avoiding feeling whatever feeling comes up for you. I know this may sound silly but try actually feeling the feeling as it comes up instead of distracting yourself from feeling the feeling.
Here’s an example from my life about how this works: I used to struggle with having a glass of wine and watching TV in the evenings instead of working on my passion and purpose. After listening to Brooke Castillo’s podcast, I took a moment just before I reached for the wine in the fridge and I realized I was feeling overwhelmed. Instead of pouring the wine, I decided to feel overwhelmed. This was unnerving. I did a body scan. My brain kept trying to distract myself (maybe there’s chips? ice cream? turn the TV on) but I stayed with it. The emotion washed over me. After that, when overwhelm came up I made the effort to feel it, noticed when I was distracting myself from it and kept feeling it. I began to practise feeling overwhelmed. Over time, as most things that we practise, it got easier. Sure, I still have a glass of wine and watch TV (I love TV!). However, now I consciously choose it and I don’t let it be a distraction.
Strategy 3 – Identify Sneaky Distractions
About three months after I did this work and successfully stopped drinking wine and watching TV as a distraction, I realized that I had started to use learning as a distraction. Maybe it was ok if I read my book instead of worked on my blog, or maybe The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell could be considered building my knowledge base and related to my passion. How sneaky of my brain! It did trick me for a while. Alcohol, eating or watching TV (all of which I have certainly experienced) are more obvious distractions and as you start to notice the more sneaky distractions come in such as those around learning (reading a book, listening to a podcast, doing more research) – use parts I and II to move through the resistance and do the work you are avoiding. We can also schedule time for learning and schedule time for our passion and purpose. By creating space for both of these important goals it will be less likely that we will get distracted.
Have you noticed that distractions can be flags for what you are avoiding? Use the distractions that come up to identify what you are avoiding and use the above strategies to move through what you are avoiding and give yourself a beautiful opportunity to grow.
I would love to hear your experiences with it and how it goes. Please connect with me through instagram melissaEanders.
- Brooke Castillo podcast about Owning Negative Emotions taught me about how to feel feelings that we are avoiding. Thank you Brooke! You are my virtual mentor.