Why Fear Loves Distractions
When I was in grade eight, I exhibited a compulsive behaviour. I created simple to do lists of tasks that I would have done anyway, for the joy of being able to check them off. I remember sitting in my afternoon math class, listing out activities I would do once I came home from school. ‘Put bicycle away’ and ‘change Ben’s (our dog’s) water’ commonly made the list. At 13 years old, I didn’t have big-picture goals like I do now. Now when I engage in daily tasks that have nothing to do with my bigger goals, I call them ‘productive distractions’.
Productive distractions are the low-hanging fruit that are so appealing because they make you feel like you’ve accomplished something even when you’re not working on your bigger goals. Our larger goals may be scary. They may require some personal sacrifice. You may need to get out of your comfort zone. The best way to diminish your fear is to take action toward your goals. But as long as you give in to distractions and avoid working on your goals, your fear stays strong.
Fear loves distractions.
You justify prioritizing your daily tasks by saying, “well, these have to get done too.” As my rice and walnuts story describes, when you continue putting your everyday tasks ahead of your bigger goals, your big goals simply remain big wishes.
Your brain is wired to want to tackle your easy tasks. Working toward your future? That takes greater self-discipline. How can you resist being drawn to distractions?
Change your expectations.
Working on your distractions feels good because they’re easy to check off of your list. How can you make working on your big goals more attractive? Adjust your expectations. Stop expecting to get the same sense of satisfaction right away from working on your big goals.
Working on your bigger goals gradually builds up satisfaction.
I took my own advice by writing this blog post instead of running errands. What daily tasks will you put aside so that you make space for working on your bigger goals instead?