I wish I could remember how I found out about the Momentum extension–a surprisingly sweet add-on for Google Chrome that short-circuits the moment we are unwittingly enticed away from what needs to get done into the bottomless pit that is SCREEN SUCKING. Yes, I wish I could remember, but flinging oneself into a web browser these days has a way of erasing the brain’s capacity to remember anything. Perhaps it was a link embedded in an email that brought me to the Google Chrome Store six months ago. Or a blog post. Or an ad. We’re all being enticed and manipulated, but truly, it doesn’t matter at this point. What does matter is I’m more focused now than I was before.
Few of us are immune to the whole Lost in Web Space phenomenon. Those of us with memories that can stretch waaay back six or seven years might remember a time before private Facebook groups, Tweetables and push notifications on our iPhones. If you’re over 30, the flickering memory of what it was like to be singularly focused on what you were doing just might gnaw at you. Because deep in our bones you know what focus tastes like and you’re well aware you are capable of tightening the drum, dancing to a deeper rhythm, and performing–not just well, but remarkably well.
It can be helpful to notice the relationship between focus and performance. Going through the motions without focus can make us feel like we’re busy creating something of value, but really, our brains aren’t very busy at all. Without concentration we’re just going through the motions. What we’re actually “doing” is the equivalent of sleep-swimming like beached whales on a far away shore. The ocean within us just doesn’t feel as deep as it did before.
What’s interesting to me is that while so many of us recognize that choosing the distraction is painful and counterproductive, we can’t seem to amend our behavior for happier results. It’s so very sad when I think of all the lost inspiration and missed opportunities.
Addiction to Distraction, is how Chris Brogan so aptly described it a few weeks ago during an interview I was listening to. I can’t remember which interview it was because I was multitasking, of course. But like any addictive behavior, it’s easier to dive back into our comfort zones and numb the pain we’re feeling instead of actively seeking out a way out of it.
Tell me, why is it you disengage from your work? Where does the thread of your resistance to being present actually start?*
I find asking myself direct questions like this one can be a bit daunting. Direct questions invite direct answers, don’t they? Ugh. Byt we must willing to listen to our hearts to obtain beautiful results. It isn’t easy to be present with where we are when we’re not entirely comfortable with what is right now. This is especially true in our businesses because our work and our identities can be so deeply entwined. Instead of blaming society, the internet or our self-serving congress, maybe the question we should be asking is: What am I doing to align my own internal power structure?
For me, it all came down to fear, but only in specific areas of my work. Distraction rarely hits when I’m immersed in client work. The people I serve are smart, talented and interesting people. No problem there, how could there be? It’s only when I find myself staring at the blank Post Entry screen in WordPress or pushing up against less enjoyable marketing tasks that my attention becomes unmoored and what do I do? I hit the new tab button in my browser window. And we all know how that goes–in a flash of procrastination, Pinterest or Facebook comes knocking at your door.
And you know what? Procrastination is just a form of lazy fear, at least I’ve found it is for me. All those things I encourage my own clients to do (which they often don’t, because they too, are resistant)–networking, list building and creating consistent, relevant blog posts written in an authentic voice–kick up some anxiety in me. And if I stay with the feeling of discomfort for just a bit, I can hear the internal dialogue… What if this blog post isn’t on-target? I can’t write like I did before. What if I’m too revealing? Why is this taking so long to write? What if I’m wasting my time? What if? What if? What if?
Finally, after installing the Momentum extension, with its gentle, beautiful reminders that appear with the click of the new tab button, I started asking different questions like, What if you just write a little bit? and What if you just go to the networking lunch? Instead of letting the tiny anxieties trigger a cascade of distractions, a very elementary extension in my browser window continues to inspire compassionate curiosity.
More often than not, the best solutions are quite elementary, my dear Watsons.
So dear reader, where does the thread of your resistance begin? While you’re contemplating the question, you might want to give Momentum a try–but don’t forget to add “Listen to your own true heart” to your tiny To Do List in the lower right hand corner. <3
*This Burning Question was inspired by a community I have just started running with called Quest 2015. For more information about Tracking Wonder, click here.