We live in distracted times, more distracted than ever. If you’ve tried to have a conversation lately with someone without them checking their phone, glancing away, or answering before you complete your thought, than you know what I mean. But let’s face it, we’re all guilty of it. Distraction is the nature of things that are, and ultimately it’s the great enemy of success.
When we live a distracted life, we live a life outside of the reality that is. Our minds wander and draw away from that which is. The present takes a back seat to a never-ending beckoning to elsewhere, to nowhere. Without purpose and without focus (see Gain Focus, Gain Success…), our lives become a backstop of trivial, nebulous, non-important happenings. We trade the reality of life for the triviality of it. Nothing is sacred, except for the endless checking of social media, texts, emails and whatever else garners our limited attention spans.
Writing some 150 years before the advent of the smartphone, American author Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) stated that “Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious matters.” The man clearly had foresight!
And what exactly are those “serious matters” that Thoreau alludes to? They’re whatever we make them out to be; they’re whatever we deem success to be. Be it family, friends, health, career, achievement, goals, or ambitions, it’s anything we set out to accomplish during our limited time on this planet. They’re those things we strive for; the things we aim to have success in.
Distraction then is the enemy of everything we desire in life. It’s anything that deters us from pursuing our dreams and bringing those things to fruition that we long for. With every check of a text, with every meandering thought, with every absence of presence, unless it’s serving our goal (and believe me, overwhelmingly they’re not), they’re a hindrance and barrier to achieving what matters to us. When we’re distracted, we lose focus, and without focus, nothing worthwhile is attainable.
How then do we free ourselves from this plague of distraction? How do we overcome it in order to realize the full potential that lies within us? If focus is the key to success, then it stands to reason that we must adopt a habit of focus. We must acquire the self-discipline to say “no”. No to watching television, no to checking social media, no to jumping upon each text, no to the time wasters and no to those who would rather have us fail than succeed. We must prioritize those things that truly matter and be able to distinguish them from the things that don’t (see Prioritizing: Doing That Which Matters…). If we’re not in a position to do this, then all the toil and sweat in the world will be for naught.
The beauty of distraction is that it’s within our means to eliminate. We don’t have to accept it and we don’t have to play its game. Unfortunately, too many of us let it rule our lives, instead of us ruling it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In a free society where choice is king, we can choose to eliminate it. With a little willpower and determination, a distraction-free life is ours to gain.
Yes, the great enemy of success is ours to slay. It’s your call and your call alone to make. So what are you waiting for?
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