A Coaching Power Tool created by Dawn Waldron
(Professional Coach, United Kingdom)
A lot of attention is paid to the things we are addicted to in lfe, quite rightly, because they are normally mentally, and often physically, harmful. Addictions normally have serious side-effects particularly for the people you live with. But there’s another area of compulsion that doesn’t get so much airplay: distraction. And it can have big implications for our lives.
Distraction is what most of us do all day. Looked at from a cynical angle distraction can be described as what most of us do to pass the time until we die. It is perhaps kinder to say that distraction is what we do to avoid doing what we should do (and don’t want to), or what we want to do (and believe we can’t).
Here are some examples:
- We watch television instead of doing our homework.
- We tidy the cupboard instead of making a difficult phone call.
- We buy new clothes instead of doing something creative.
- We play computer games instead of sharing with our partner.
- We keep the twitter feed open on our desktop while writing a report.
- We divert to surfing Amazon when we should be finding out about a project.
Notice how many of these distractions involve high-tech appliances: they can be major routes of distraction. But don’t be fooled, iIt’s just as easy to distract yourself by locking yourself away in a dead end job instead of pursuing your potential. Alcohol can distract you from facing problems in your relationship. Even following a fanatically healthy self-improvement programme can be a distraction from getting deeply involved in the drama of your life.
Focus is the opposite of distraction. It implies devoting time and attention to one thing: a project, a relationship, a business, to the exclusion of all else. In our busy world achieving focus is a difficult challenge. In many cultures, the ability to juggle a lot of tasks all at once is considered a strength. For modern business people it is often listed as a necessary quality. But most of us recognise that multi-tasking is only successful if you have a goal in mind. And many of us know we would be more effective if we could find more uninterrupted time.
It can also be difficult to decide what we want to focus on. One way is to clarify what we love and move in that direction. Moving towards love inevitably moves us towards an increased sense of fulfilment. If we have a voice in our head saying that’s not possible, or practical, or available, the chances are we will choose some form of distraction to fill the gap. And that leads us away from a sense of fulfilment.
- Is your life moving in the direction of the things that you love?
- What would you focus on if you could?
- Name 3 things that you do for distraction.
- Choose one of those things and decide to change it.
Finding your Focus
When you have spent much of your life pushing your dreams back under the surface and containing your enthusiasm in a soundproof box, it can be hard to tune-in to the things you are passionate about. One way to look at it is to think about what makes you angry: the sort of things that get you shouting at the radio or raising your voice around the dinner table. These give us a clue about the things that matter to us. Reversing these wrongs, even in a small way, might be a good place to focus.
Perhaps you already know what you are passionate about. What you simply couldn’t live without in your life: music, the sea, your dog, clothes. Our passions can also give us a head start in learning where our heart lies. And that’s a good place to focus too.
Another rich area to explore is the things that come naturally to you: your talents. Most of us are surprisingly good at at least one thing: something our friends often ask us for help with, or something that we find easy that everyone else seems to struggle with. Focussing on developing these might be a good place to start.
If you can find an area that encompasses all 3 of these, you’re on to a winner.
Another good question for finding your focus is:
What do you get so excited about that it keeps you up at night, even when you know you would be more sensible to be asleep?