Master Class

Deep Focus

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1
Lesson

Day 1. Anatomy of a Distraction

We all have goals. Regardless of where you are in life, whether you’re just starting out or are deep into the throes of midlife, there are likely extraordinary things you’d like to accomplish.

There might even be things you need to achieve with such urgency you’re willing to fight to get to where you need to be.

This is why it’s so frustrating when you stall out in meeting those goals.

Roadblocks can leave you reeling and unsure whether to even continue.

Distractions run rampant over your dreams, stripping you of both energy and impetus.

Being able to tune out those distractions and still propel yourself to your chosen goal is valuable beyond compare. Being able to do so regardless of the diversion, be it social, work-related, or personal can leave you empowered in ways you’ve never imagined.


Day 1:

In today’s lesson, we’re going to be taking a look at how a distraction works. This is this first step to understanding how to counteract said distractions.

Distractions can be either external or internal. Some distractions are entirely beyond your control, while others are entirely up to you.

What they all have in common, though, is the impact on your day.

Let’s look at some of these in detail:

Fear

Most of us don’t like admitting when something scares us. New experiences, great big goals…all come with a hint of uncertainty which creeps up when we sit down to work.

We’re terrified we might actually get what we want, and we still haven’t worked out what life looks like on the other side.

Either way, we find ourselves avoiding action by whatever means necessary.

These are the moments where it’s preferable to do laundry or clean the house rather than sit down and do what you’ve set out to do.

Insecurity

What if you foul up? Or worse, what if you don’t have the skills to accomplish what you’ve decided to do? These thoughts alone can distract you from your day.

Like with fear, insecurity will drive you to look for something else to do. Anything is better than being proven right and finding out you really can’t do the work you set out to do after all.

Loss of Control

There’s a great deal in life out of our control. Weather, politics, even a lot of our financial situation is at the mercy of other factors. When we feel life is in chaos, we start hunting for control elsewhere, anywhere we can find it.

This is where distraction can be at its most insidious.

Rather than trying to find a way to deal with one of these situations, you look for activities where you can do something that puts control back into your hands. Like cleaning the house rather than deal with a crisis.

Sometimes this particular distraction can be a good thing, as it helps kill time when you’re waiting on something to happen.

Other times, it becomes a time-waster, putting off a decision or action you really should be making right now.

Overwhelm

There’s just too much coming at you all at once, most of it needs to be done yesterday. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work, or by the intensity of the deadline, it’s normal to seek escape.

Think of it as reacting in a fight or flight way to a scary stimulus. Running to a distraction in this situation is a flight response to stress.

If this seems excessive, think about it this way: don’t a lot of deadlines or responsibilities at the same time feel like an attack of sorts?

It’s no wonder we want to shut down somehow when stressed!

Out of Resources

There’s only so much attention we can give to a problem before we’re out of gas. This is because willpower really is a finite resource.

How are we supposed to keep plugging away when we’ve been working for ages, making one decision after another, forcing our feet to keep moving even when we’re tired and worn out in our decision-making skills?

It’s no wonder we welcome distraction just for the relief it gives from having to think or do another thing.

Energy

The truth of the matter is, sometimes we just get tired. If we’re not eating or sleeping properly, our bodies start to show signs of fatigue.

It’s impossible to tune out distractions when you’re so worn out you can’t think straight.

Here are the moments where you just want the distractions that give you the most comfort, such as curling up in front of the TV rather than working on a project or spending time reading click-bait articles and posts from friends on social media.

The problem is, those activities might feel good initially, but they’ll strip out whatever remains of your energy and guarantee you’re not going to get anything else done until you can rest.

Out-of-Control Emotions

Your mental state has a lot more to do with how distracted you are than you think. Any kind of emotional overload can drive you to retreat into the world of distraction.

Finding emotional balance is especially hard in these situations.

First, because you’re caught up in whatever you’re feeling, it’s hard to focus on any kind of task. Unfortunately, the job itself can feed into the emotions.

Your goal might be triggering an emotional response at odds with what you’re feeling, or worse, amplifying it.

Trying to reel all that in and get yourself back to work becomes a fierce challenge in these circumstances.

Boredom

When you lose interest, distraction becomes almost impossible to ignore. Sadly, there comes a time in most projects when the goal seems impossibly far away and progress so slow, that boredom sets in.

Once motivation and energy are gone out of a project, it becomes almost impossible to get back on track again without some serious hard work.

Lack of Structure

When you have no guided focus in your day, it’s hard to keep your attention where you need it most. Schedules set out small goals that let you know when you expect to have those goals completed.

Without those guidelines, it’s easy for your day to fall apart as minor distractions sneak in to take up blocks of time not meant for anything in particular.

Distraction will pull your attention away from where it’s needed with, just the barest of footholds.

The scary part?

Once they’re given some ground, it becomes a challenge to get back on track again.

Now, let’s take some time to further explore how distractions may have commenced in your life.

Day 1 Exercise: What Fuels Your Distractions?

Nothing destroys a goal more quickly than a distraction. You wouldn’t think this is the case.

After all, distractions are usually small things.

To understand this idea, you first need to know how distraction works. Why does something so minor as an interruption mess up our entire day?

In today’s exercises, we’re going to be taking a look at how distractions have held you back in the past, as well as how those distractions were created.

Additionally, we’re also going to be looking at what most causes you to become distracted. Let's jump right in.

Step 1: Fear can be a big factor in preventing us from reaching our goals.

Think back on some goals that you had made in the past, that you eventually gave up on because of fear.

List these below.

Then reflect on and list why you think that you were afraid of committing to these goals.

·       Goal 1:

     Fear explanation 1:


·       Goal 2:

     Fear explanation 2:


·       Goal 3:

     Fear explanation 3:


Step 2: Loss of control in the various domains of our lives can also cause us to become distracted when attempting to focus on something.

Do you feel like you’re in control of your life right now?

Why or why not?

Brainstorm Your Ideas Here:




Step 3: As outlined in Lesson 1, there are many factors that affect how distracted or focused you are.


Out of all of the factors explained in Lesson 1, which three do you think are the most prevalent in your life?


List these below, as well as an example for each one detailing when before this has happened to you.

·       Distraction factor 1:

     Example 1:


·       Distraction factor 2:

     Example 2:


·       Distraction factor 3:

 Example 3: