I talk frequently about setting your dream and vision in front of you. Make sure it is clearly written out, clearly imagined, clearly visible every day. A second important step is to eliminate distractions from your vision.
Distractions take your focus off of your vision and cause you to focus on something that is unimportant. Some distractions may be urgent, but they are rarely important. If they are not part of your long-term vision then they should be given about as much attention as a speed bump. Unfortunately some people live their lives by stopping their car every time they hit a speed bump. Then they get out of their car to yell at the speed bump. Then complain to their friends and family about how unfair the speed bump is. Then forget where they were going before they hit the speed bump.
Anyway, here are some distractions that can steal focus away from your vision:
Clutter. Okay, I’m guilty of this one. In my bedroom/office there are piles of stuff that I don’t use often. I have drawers full of electrical cords that I don’t know what they are for (but which I can’t throw away because I might need them someday). I typically have stacks of papers, books, and unfolded clean laundry all over the place. Despite this, I am a firm believer that physical clutter transforms into mental clutter, and having a disorganized desk, room, or car translates into a disorganized mind in which your vision can be lost. I’d upload photos if I could find my camera….
Negative Influences. Some people are emotional sinkholes. The longer you can sustain a positive attitude, the easier it is for you to achieve in any area of life. Sometimes you need to surround yourself with people who replenish you, not people who deplete you. Take an emotional inventory sometime and determine which of your relationships are replenishing and which are depleting. Leadership guru John Maxwell says that the person you will become in the next five years will be determined by two things: the books you read and the people you associate with. Associate with people who share your vision or encourage your vision, not with small-minded people that would like to extinguish your light to make themselves shine brighter.
Habitual Activities. Some activities may relax you, and you may enjoy them, but they may take a lot of time away from your vision. Television is the first culprit that I always single out. I think most families would be closer if they would just kill their TVs. Internet games is new on my list of activities that will keep you from accomplishing anything of significance. Any time spent staring at a screen is usually time where your brain is virtually inactive (the one exception is reading highly informative and inspirational blogs…)
Overcoming the Past. There are two things that keep people from moving forward. One is past failures. Some people get slapped down once and never try again. The other is more insidious and that is past success. Some people try a few times, achieve moderate success, then sing their own praises to the detriment of any new success (Anybody remember Al Bundy from the hit show that I recommend nobody watch–Married With Children–where he always talks about the time he scored four touchdowns in one high school football game? Yes, that’s what I’m talking about. Yes, you sound just like him when you talk about that one big moment of yours). The past is gone, the future is promised to no one, all you have is the present–so use it to move in the direction of your vision.
This is not an exhaustive list, but more a testimony of the major distractions in my life that I sometimes struggle with. Identify your own distractions and bad habits, then create a plan to cut them out of your life. What’s left behind is what’s truly important in your life.
What are your distractions? What would you be willing to eliminate from your life in order to live a more fulfilling life?