5 tips to avoid distractions and align with your purpose

Indulging in distractions is just a way to avoid meeting your soul’s need for more meaning in life

graphic of man facing many images, distractions

Sexy headlines, funny videos, shiny objects,  clearance sales, phones buzzing… distractions are everywhere.

Fun? Yes… but also time, joy, and energy suckers. Not only that, but we typically beat ourselves up for ‘wasting’ time, and feel anxious about the ever growing to-do list.

So why do we get so easily distracted?

Well, we are human. We have five senses, and all the bells and whistles go off when we see, smell, hear, touch, or taste something exciting.

So instead of beating ourselves up for our lack of focus, let’s compassionately observe, and learn more about ourselves.

Anything we do is to either create a feeling we want to feel, or avoid a feeling we do not want to feel.

Ask yourself—what are my true reasons for allowing myself to get distracted?

Perhaps you crave rest, but do not give yourself permission. Perhaps you desire more fun, more connection, more passion, but you define your worth through how busy you are. Perhaps you are going through heartache, loss, or a challenging time, and you want to zone out. Or maybe you are not writing that book because you are afraid of being judged.

Are you avoiding something, or are you craving something?

If you are not sure, don’t get stuck in the ‘why you do what you do’. Move on to the ‘what you can do about it’. Take action. The why will be revealed to you in time. Of course, it is helpful to understand ourselves, but we do not need to psychoanalyse ourselves to death in order to be able to make changes. That too becomes a huge distraction.

Being fully present and able to hold our attention on what matters most is like a muscle that has to be exercised, stretched, rested, and well fed.

First, we must get clear on what we want and why. What are your priorities in life? How do you want to feel? What makes you come alive? What is truly important to you in life, and what are your priorities? What do you really want to spend your time on?

A lack of clarity results in a lack of direction. I am not talking about having clear head-based goals here… I am talking about what your soul is really hungry for. What is your vision for your life? Are you creating it? If not, distractions might just be your way to avoid your soul’s painful yearning for more meaning in life.

Perhaps you don’t know what you really want. Then start with how you want to feel, and start doing things that make you feel really good. Your purpose will come to you. Knowing what you do not want may also spark a light in you. Create a NOT-TO-DO-LIST and get clear on what kind of things you eventually want to stop doing, delegate those things to somebody who loves it, or outsource them.

Set yourself up for focussed, inspired action. As much as you are able, make your workspace a creation station. Clear the clutter, bring on some flowers, and other objects that bring you peace, joy, and remind you of why you are there.

You are your time

Take back your power. You can choose what you spend your time and energy on. Is the three-hour Facebook adventure really making you feel the way you want to feel? Once you reconnect to your deepest desires, you know what you really want to focus on.

Make self-care a priority

Instead of checking emails, pounding coffee, or hitting the ground running first thing in the morning, take some time to ground and centre yourself. Meditation is the greatest exercise for the focus ‘muscle’. It is impossible to get things done while having fun, when we are moving and thinking a million miles an hour. Yoga, meditation, journaling, reading, dance parties, art, or do anything else that brings you back into alignment with your most joyful self. Do that first thing in the morning, and sprinkle some of that yumminess throughout your day. Slowing ourselves allows for more creativity, more joy, and more focus.

Create a fierce and flexible schedule

Especially if you are an entrepreneur like me, being in total charge of your schedule can seem overwhelming. I really love using the 60-60-30 method for productivity.

Be flexible in your approach, always checking in with your north star; your purpose and passions.

Set boundaries

I have three cats, a dog, and my husband coming through my office every day. My phone rings, emails pile up, laundry needs to be done, and the house has to be cleaned. I am my time. When I write, coach, or work on projects, I make the decision to silence all my gadgets. We do not have to be available 24/7. I dedicate a time to check email, and to return phone calls/texts. I let my hubby know that I love him and want to be fully present for him, but right now I really want to stay with this project, I am on a roll. He feels acknowledged, and my boundary is set. My tip for you: do not apologise or get into lengthy explanations that you ‘have’ to finish something. Take charge, declare that you really want to finish this, and agree on another time that works. If you have an office, put a sign on the door. Own your desire and gently create those boundaries. You will inspire others to do the same.

Replace expectation with trust

Our worth is not measured by our productivity. Setting hard expectations for each day sets us up for failure. We are human beings, not robots. Has it ever worked for you to put pressure on yourself? Perhaps you got it done, but how did you feel in the process? We are here to feel good. Trusting yourself, your abilities, and the divine timing of all things is the key for living in the flow.

Above all else, be gentle with yourself. Beating yourself up about choosing to browse the web for hours does not really help you to get focussed. Be a compassionate observer of your choices, notice where you spend your energy, and fiercely realign yourself with your purpose and passions again and again.

This article first appeared in the April 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing

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