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Working Through Distractions

Distractions are a part of life, and struggling is totally human. When we’re struggling with something, we often seek distraction to avoid sitting amidst the frustration. In moderation, distractions can keep us from burning out. However, allowing distractions in for too long stops us from reaching our goals.

I was recently working with a client I’ll call Janet. She’s a business owner. To market her services, Janet engages in some consistent activities to put herself and her services out in front of potential customers.

In the last month, Janet’s been struggling to feel “in her groove” when it comes to her marketing efforts. She’s tried to focus, but each time she does, she feels pulled away by various distractions. She wanted to refocus and get back in her groove.

Falling off the Wagon
The first thing Janet and I discussed was how she fell off the wagon. You see, falling off the wagon happens. There is nothing wrong with it. When we do, it’s a good time to go back and see what caused it.

For Janet, she thrives with a routine. During the holidays, her business took a back burner, and when January rolled around, she had slipped out of her old (and previously productive) pattern. She hasn’t found her way back.

What’s Stopping Things Now?
Once Janet and I determined the trigger, we started looking at what’s stopping her from getting back into her routine. With a little digging, we found a few things. First, there were some minor family needs that required her attention. Second, she felt like she lost the inspiration that had previously been flowing. Lastly, there was some mental garbage that was taking up an unfair portion of her mindshare.

Corrective Adjustments
With the culprits pinpointed, we made some corrective adjustments to help her get back on track. Here’s what we did.

1. Family.
Janet’s family’s needs were going to be short-term, resolved within a month. We decided that although this was taking up some time, it wasn’t overwhelming her and we’d let it be.
If her family situation looked like it was going to linger, she and I would have discussed ways should could cut back on the time she’s helping out her family, how to create better boundaries between her needs and theirs, and options for recruiting help so it wasn’t all on her shoulders.

2. Inspiration. The holidays carried Janet’s mind away from her business and toward her family. It was fine at the time, but she was ready to return to her business. We brainstormed ways for her to refocus and find inspiration. Here are the things she’s going to try.

When she sits down to work on her business and feels stuck, she will write down her desired outcome, mentally release it, then get up and go for a fifteen-minute walk. Moving our bodies, changing our environment, and letting go of trying are three tricks to finding inspiration.

Studies have shown that walking benefits the brain. Movements helps oxygenate it and harmonize the left and right sides, also helping us find inspiration.

Quiet time.
Janet will take 5–10 minutes of quiet sitting time in the morning before getting to work. This will help calm her mind and focus her attention on her business.

As Martha Beck says in her book The Joy Diet (Crown Publishers, 2003), “Perpetually doing, without ever tuning into the center of our being, is the equivalent of fueling a mighty ship by tossing all its navigational equipment into the furnace.” A little quiet time and internal reflection can go a long way to fueling Janet’s inspiration, far better than trying to force things to happen.

Sensory stimulation. Lastly, Janet will add in some sensory experiences into her office, such as fresh flowers, a scented candle, a warm blanket over her knees, or a cup of steamy herbal tea. Tapping into our various senses can also help inspiration flow.

3. Mental garbage. Janet was worrying about the economy and the future of her business. She was concerned about some projects she had underway and whether or not they would be as successful as she’d like. We did some coaching using thought work, a tried and true method of eliminating mental garbage. She was able to clean up the muck that was one of her main distractions, holding inspiration at bay.

Back on Track

With her corrective adjustments outlined, Janet was ready to get back in her groove. Better yet, next time it happens, she will know what will help her clear out the distractions and refocus on her goals.

Falling off the wagon or getting out of a groove happens. When you’re ready to course correct, consider what caused it, what’s in your way, and what you need to get back on track. With a little investigating (and maybe a little help), you’ll be headed in your desired direction once again.