As a newly minted member of the Google+ service, I was pretty consumed by exploring everything the service had to offer yesterday. So much so that outside of work and my family, it was probably my number one activity. No e-mail, no Twitter (other than to put something up to say I was hanging at Google+). Just Google+ all the time. Which, when I reflected on it last night, was a pretty good metaphor for something I’ve observed myself do on my Paleo journey.
Distraction is a two pronged problem. The first part ties into what I was talking about the other day about how we often think our salvation and motivation will come from an object and not ourselves. We can become so obsessed with the notion that we need the latest X or newest Y to make something happen that we lose sight of the fact we mostly have the tools to do anything ourselves. A compact car can get us from A to B, every other consideration is just a matter of scale, options, and pragmatism. If you need to haul a boat you aren’t going to buy a Focus and if you need to drive 100KM every day you aren’t going to buy an Escalade. Sometimes though we get so wrapped up in the notion that we NEED an Escalade when the Focus we have fulfils its duty admirably. The beat up athletic shoes you have may not be the barefoot shoes you think you need to start running but they will service the goal nicely. This type of distraction is pernicious because it disguises itself as excitement. You’re excited to get started, you see all of these niche famous people endorsing the product, and you want to do all of the amazing things they are. It’s a natural leap. What you need to realize though is that your lack of the product or service shouldn’t be an impediment. Get started first, you can backfill with the cool stuff later.
The second prong is more of what I experienced yesterday. It can be easy to be distracted by the shiny new thing to the detriment of others. The primary concern in this is that it might lead you to ignore the things that have brought you this far. Some times you have to change and move on to new things and some times the new thing distracts you from what has brought you this far. It’s hard to know when to move either way on the continuum. Just be aware and mindful every day of what you’re doing and your motivations for doing them. If you’ve gone down a path because of distraction then may be it’s time to go back to where you started and try again. It’s odd to think about it this way but distraction is a motivation, albeit a negative one. Distraction can lead us to something in the same way the more positive aspects of motivation can. We need to be ever vigilant that our motivation for following an action comes out of thought, introspection, and the ability to discern why we want to do something. If we’re doing something simply because someone else told us to do it, we may want to rethink the action. We may be doing the right thing for the wrong reason but we might also be doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason.
Distraction is hard because we often don’t realize we’ve succumbed to it until after the fact. As long as we are mindful of our actions and motivations we should be fine. If you find something isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to go back to something that was. There are a lot of people out there that would like you to think their way of doing things is the only way. The real truth is that no one course of action will help you on your journey. Experiment. Mix and match. Find what works for you. Blindly following someone is not the answer to your problems. You’re the answer to your problems. If you understand that, you’re already well on your way to success.