A student in the online entrepreneurship course I’m creating asked about distractions. When he wants to work, he often gets distracted.
I think me answer will help others so I’m sharing it here.
Most life-long valuable things have long-term, non-urgent reward. Things that have immediate reward or urgency will distract. For example, if you want to do well at school, the reward for working on a project may come days or weeks later when you finish. Meanwhile, if you clean your room, play a video game, or eat, the reward will come in seconds.
I’ve found the most effective way to stay on course is to start with awareness. To realize that there’s nothing special about me that makes me lazy—rather that humans have a motivational system that works this way—means that my role models who achieved something I want to emulate worked through similar challenges. Therefore, what they could do, I can.
I find it also worth noting that advertisers, marketers, and others take advantage of that system to sell things. The little red number showing you have messages on Facebook attracts your eye, distracts you from other things, and gives you emotional reward. Food with sugar added gives you physical reward. People go to school for years to figure out how to hook you.
So we’re living in a world full of distraction, but people still overcome challenges.
One of the big benefits of overcoming challenges is creating enduring emotional reward with richness and complexity that many find vastly more valuable than short-term pleasure, like passion, flow, love, etc—like a fine wine compared to candy.
So how do you avoid getting affected by distraction? I write about this on my blog a lot. Some ways that I find work include
- Make yourself accountable to others for your deliverables. Few people want to look bad in front of others
- Create habits that create structure (see my blog posts on SIDCHAs, for example)
- Get rid of distractions from your environment
- Create “tricks” that get you started
- Learn what works for others and use what works
- Improve your self-awareness with things like meditation. My course on leadership covers this too
- Don’t kill yourself when you realize you got distracted. It happened, just get back on track
These are a few simple examples.
On a bigger scale, I designed this course to give you tools to create passion for what you do. Feeling passion, love, or another intense emotion for something will lead you to get rid of less important things. For example, I enjoy parties as much as ever, but I love creating these courses and helping people create projects and passion in their lives more. Before I had this project, I would go out more. The new passion I created eclipsed the old one.
Or take cooking, for another example. Cookies taste as good to me now as ever. The more I’ve learned to prepare with fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, spices, and so on, the healthier I feel with a diet of them, the easier cooking with them becomes with practice, and so on, the more the fresh fruits and vegetable diet eclipses cookies.
Most people haven’t learned how to deliberately create a passion that improves their life and eclipses less important things. They think passion comes from a lucky discovery so they don’t try to create something.
I hope this course does that in the long term for you.
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