Are you easily distracted?
Do you struggle to focus?
If so, then it means that you're just like millions of other people who live on this planet, and it’s because there are so many things that are clamoring for our attention.
For example, in a typical hour of TV, you get about 19 minutes of 15-30 second ads every hour. That's anything from 38-76 ads for one show, and that doesn't count the trailers.
In stores, every box and bottle is an advertisement for itself.
You get it in social media, too, and even if you use ad-blockers, it's almost impossible to avoid advertising altogether on the Internet.
Unless you're willing to cut yourself off from humanity, you'll have to face these potential distractions every day for the rest of your life.
How are you expected to focus on your work with all that going on?
Distractions aren’t the problem
Distractions are a problem for people, but they’re not the problem.
That’s a problem in itself.
If you don’t identify the problem, then you’ll never figure out how to solve it. Instead, you’ll be chasing after something that won’t help you.
In other words, you’ll be distracted even more.
Distractions are a symptom of a much bigger problem - one that is central to your business.
What is the problem?
The problem is that you don’t have a calling.
Here’s how it works.
Distractions are nothing more than a collection of possible activities. Some of them are a necessity, such as cooking and cleaning, and others are for fun, like looking at your favorite websites or watching TV.
You need time for work and play. You weren’t designed to work non-stop for your entire life. Then again, if all you do is play, then that, too, will become a drudgery because you won’t have anything to rest from.
A calling is a compulsion to do one thing over and above everything else. It’s what makes getting to your desk exciting. It’s the principal activity that you’ve been singled out to do, and it distinguishes you from all others.
And to have a calling, there also has to be a caller. Your caller is the person to whom you’re accountable for how you spend your time.
For you, the ultimate caller may be God, but then secondarily it could be your spouse or partner, or even yourself.
Why is this such a big deal?
Why does calling matter?
It matters because without one, everything you do is of equal value.
You have no criteria against which to compare what you say you’re trying to do, and what you think is distracting. And that means that you have no compelling reason to choose one thing over another. In other words, it’s just as likely that your so-called work is nothing more than a distraction.
How can you discover your calling?
One way is to find a need that you either support or that in your opinion is underserved.
Akbar Sheikh, for example, said in a recent interview that he was astounded at how cheap it was to provide cataract surgery for children. It made him want to hand over his debit card.
That’s what a calling feels like. Suddenly, the work that you’re doing becomes more important than anything else, and that’s because it’s as a result of doing it that you can help others in a way that they wouldn’t be able to themselves.
When you find a calling like that, then you’ll be able to overcome the pull that you feel with distractions. That’s because, by comparison, they’ll seem unimportant.
Bright shiny objects will lose their luster, too. And that’s because buying them will mean that you not only will have to spend time away from the work you need to do to support a cause that’s close to your heart, but you’ll also waste money that you had earmarked for it.
If you want to conquer distractions, then make it your business to find a calling. And if you have any doubts about what it should be, then ask your caller.