Ever heard the old adage,”We’re our own worst enemy”? There is often nothing standing between us and our goals, except our own short attention span. In this day and age, there are a million distractions just lying in wait, and it takes only the slightest nudge to derail your plans for the day. How often have you laid out your plans for the week, only to achieve less than 20% of what you set out to do?
It is easy to blame it on “more important priorities”, but these “priorities” are often your brain’s way of deciding what’s comfortable. Doing something new is synonymous with leaving your comfort zone. Your brain is hardwired to counter the discomfort with routine, mindless activities. It’s just normal, human tendencies. Good thing here is that once you become aware of these inclinations, we become self-aware, and can counteract these impulses.
Here’s a few things you can start doing to make sure you beat distraction, and stay laser-focused on your goals.
Everything starts with you realising that there is a problem. You have to catch yourself in the act of procrastination, for you to realise there is a problem at hand. What you do next is also very important - don’t blame yourself or lose confidence due to your slip-ups. Learn that they are normal, and work towards avoidance the next time round. Introspection helps, and concrete activities like journaling and quiet reflection time gives you more accountability.
It is always hard to leave your comfort zone. And you won’t trump your natural instincts if it’s not for a greater purpose. Part of this self-negotiation is understanding why you are trying to make this change. Is it for better health? Why is better health important to you? We argue with our subconscious so much more than you actually realise, and if you feel like you are losing the quarrel, reposition yourself with your purpose. It helps centre your pursuit again.
Stop beating yourself up. We can be our own best cheerleader, or the greatest detractor. Which side of you appears depends on your conscious choice. Don’t forget to treat yourself with more compassion, and support yourself through the tougher times. While our immediate desire is to “support” the present self through instant gratification (distracting yourself with immediate relief), you want to support your future self too. Remind yourself that you are doing this for the future, and encourage your future self to hang in there.
Given everything that’s been said above, does this really come as a surprise? The biggest mood killer is a sense of failure, so don’t set yourself up to fail. Yes, we do want to challenge ourselves and to improve, but you don’t want to break your own spirit. Save a little kindness for yourself, and set sustainable, realistic goals that you know you can achieve. No one wants to take the first step if there are a million more to come. This also helps lessen the discomfort your brain is perceiving, thus reducing the innate desire it has to force you back into a pattern of mindlessness.
Until such time when you learn to control your life, others will always be directing you on what gets done next. Don’t end the day feeling like you’ve done everything for everyone else, but nothing for yourself. Thankfully, the second part of the quote goes, “...and our own best friend”. You are only limited by how much you let yourself help you. Stop distracting yourself with side quests, and go for the main prize today.