By: Danny Brooks

Have you ever noticed how vital the main plot of a movie is? The hero isn’t pausing to answer texts halfway through an important conversation with their friend as they are discovering the plans of the villain. Sometimes a movie or story even starts with the main character dumping their lazy, manipulative, or even abusive partner so that they can embark on their journey. Imagine if they had to answer the 7 calls an hour from their emotionally needy partner as they tried to stop the bad guy. In a lot of the programs we teach in schools, we talk about goals. Goals are kind of like the main plot in a movie or the main mission or quest in a video game. The heroes in these stories throw off their distractions and run hard toward their goals. So much of life, we do the exact opposite and let distractions rule us. Today I’m going to talk about how to throw off the things that are no more than distractions and pursue something that is actually worth accomplishing.

Before I get into this, I have a few disclaimers. Rest is a great thing and you can’t get anything done if you don’t take good care of your mind and body. So taking the time to rest is different than letting the activities you do during your rest become your prison. I like video games, but they become a distraction from life and not restful at a certain point. I play sports and they teach you teamwork and discipline, but that coach who has you at practice 6 days a week for 3 hours a day is turning your hobby into a distraction. A lot of things can be good in moderation, but if you aren’t doing your homework because of your hobby, sport, or friends, then those things are distracting you from your goals. If all you do as an adult is work and your job is so consuming that you can’t hang out with friends and family, then that job is now a distraction. See where I’m going here? Just be aware that there are gray areas and when I talk about this I’m making generalizations.

So as you can see, many good things can quickly turn into distractions. For example, I know a guy who volunteered for a great organization that helped high school students. This guy’s grades started to slip and his parents made him quit volunteering. Volunteering was a great thing and I actually benefited from this guy’s mentorship because he did so, but he had to put in too many hours and it was making him not focus on school.

Technology is another good thing that can be one of our worst distractions. I love texting. I dislike talking on the phone and because of this quarantine I dislike video calls even more! So texting is an amazing way for me to communicate when I don’t feel like talking. However, texting can be so distracting. As much as I love that it’s an option, I have had my phone on silent notifications for everything except calls for as long as I can remember. This allows me to answer notifications when I want to, not when my phone or other people want me to. If you have to pause every 1.5 minutes to text someone, you will never accomplish anything. It’s probably the reason why the average attention span is going down. I have to have email on my phone for work and I get texts, but I highly recommend turning off vibrating or sound notifications so that you can accomplish your goals and not be a slave to the screen in your pocket. Set aside time every once and a while to look at your phone, but get out of the habit of pulling it out every time it buzzes.

People can also be a distraction. People?! What? How could I say that?! Because it’s true. People should and often do take first priority over things. I should care more about my family than the next dollar I’m going to make. A hungry child or a friend in need always comes before my own needs. So what am I getting at? In our programs we talk about abusers and manipulators. These people are usually acting for their own self interests and have little regard for what others want or need. Even if a person isn’t abusive or manipulative, they could still be selfish and not care about your goals. Dating a person like this is a waste of time. You could learn from it, sure. That’s called learning the hard way. You are better off single. Even if you have a jealous friend, that person could be a distraction and at some point you have to set boundaries.

So I’m not saying to cut off all of your friends and never date so that you can be successful. What I am saying is that successful people know how to set healthy boundaries and cut out the really unhealthy relationships. Maybe more importantly, successful people know how to set healthy boundaries for themselves so that they aren’t distracted by themselves.

So what’s distracting you today? Is it worth it?