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The Insanity of Distractions

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    Bruce Hoag

    It’s been said that it’s a form of insanity to do the same things day after day and expect a different outcome.

    Actually, that statement is false.

    The insanity comes from expecting to get the same result from doing the same thing day after day. That’s because the world isn’t going to sit still while you do what you’ve always done.

    One author expressed this very clearly in the title of his book: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.


    There is one form of insanity, however, that’s particularly dangerous.

    It’s what I call the Insanity of Distractions.

    Here’s how it works.

    Suppose you’ve decided that you want to have an online business because it will make you location-free. That is, instead of living where you do, it will enable you to live somewhere else.

    Maybe you’re up to your armpits in snow right now, or the wind is blowing so hard that you’ve installed handrails in your driveway so you can get from the door of your house to the car and back without ending up in your neighbor’s front yard. And what you’d really like to do is move someplace where it’s sunny 300 days a year, and no one owns a snow shovel.

    All of us have dreams to one extent or another.

    We all would like to improve our lives in some way.

    The insane IM-er, however, dreams vicariously.

    Here’s how he / she does it.

    If you’re in the US, then Zillow is a good place to start. (If you’re in the UK, then RightMove is the equivalent. Country Life magazine is also a contender.)

    You can take 360-degree video tours of houses. You can specify the number of bedrooms you’d like, whether you want a three-, five-, or ten-car garage.

    Maybe you’d like a swimming pool or to be in a golf community. In the land of the sun, you could have both.

    And as you look at these houses, you can feel the warmth of it coming through your windows.

    That’s because you have a vivid imagination.

    Of course, in such a place, you’ll need a new car.

    Being the savvy shopper that you are, you’ll check out the various sites which recommend those vehicles which are the most reliable. Then you’ll head over to the websites of the car manufacturers and even “build” a car or two.

    Next, it’s time to find out how much it costs where you live compared with where you want to go. There are sites for that. Sperling’s is one. No doubt there are many others.

    You can learn about crime-rates, schools, average ages and salaries for your dream neck-of-the-woods, and all without leaving the discomfort of your own home.

    Google will tell you that there are 500 coffee shops in the area, which is perfect because IM-ers generally like to work in them. In the land of constant sunshine, there are numerous parks and lakes, too, if coffee isn’t your thing.

    How long does it take to experience all this in your mind? Certainly weeks. Maybe even months.

    And the thing is that unless you’re in a position to move in the next 90 days, all you’ve done is postpone its likelihood.

    The insanity is that you know this, and yet instead of working on the activities that will actually get you there, you choose instead to dream about it, and you make that dream something of an episodic experience by revisiting the various aspects of it online day after day, week in, and week out.


    The solution, of course, is obvious.

    It’s so simple that you probably ask yourself every day why you don’t just do the work you know you need to do.

    Oh that it was that easy.


    The first thing to ask yourself is when you last took a real vacation. Entrepreneurs tend to wear 80-hour weeks as a badge of honor.

    It’s not.

    And in case you never really thought about this, even if you’re in the peak of fitness, you’ll tire more quickly and take longer to recover when you’re 40 or 50 than when you were 20.

    There will always be exceptions, but it’s unlikely that you’re one of them.

    When you’re doing what you love, it’s especially easy to burn-out. That’s because it’s so hard to believe that it’s possible to overdo something that you enjoy so much.

    If you run or cycle, or participate in any other aerobic activity and enjoy it, then no doubt you’ve experienced what is known as the “runner’s high.”

    What is that? It’s the euphoria – the overwhelming sense of well-being that comes from all those good brain chemicals that are released when you exercise; and you can become addicted to that feeling to the extent that even if you’re sick, you don’t feel right unless you train.

    The same kind of thing can happen if work too much.

    You must take intentional breaks.

    One day per week like clockwork.

    A week bounded by two weekends every three or four months will also keep your batteries charged.

    There’s no virtue in working seven days a week for years.

    If you do that, then when you burnout – and you will, eventually – it will be that much worse.

    Doing whatever it takes to succeed includes resting, especially when you’re sick.

    There are those who fail to take illness seriously. For them, there are certain other illnesses designed to get their attention.

    Post-viral syndrome can leave you feeling miserable for months or longer.

    A breakdown can wreck your life for years.

    ME is permanent.


    If you’re truly rested, and that means that you’re also getting seven to eight hours every night and have done so for many months, then it could be that you need to step back and evaluate what you’re doing.

    Sometimes we get so immersed in our that we lose our perspective. We can’t see the forest for the trees.

    On a retreat, you leave your “to do” list at home.

    Instead, you pack your things – maybe a few books, certain articles or emails, some paper and pen, and go someplace quiet, away from the hustle and bustle of your daily surroundings.

    You might start by reevaluating why you’re doing what you’re trying to do.

    You might look at your long-term goals, think about what your days have looked like of late, and make some notes about the things that have pulled you away from your work.

    That you’re distracted from it is the result of one or more other things.

    And when you’re distracted, even if you know that you are, it can be difficult to know why or how you got there. So you need to make a note of what happens – what events or thoughts occur – that lead you astray.

    Retreats can last for a day or a few days.

    You need to allow sufficient time to get the benefit that they offer; but once you get that understanding that you’re looking for, you can create a new plan for how to get back on track.

    Once you’ve done that, you need to take the remainder of the day off.

    Even though you may feel that you’re rarin’ to go, a good night’s sleep will add to your newfound clarity. You may even find that you want to add some other notes in the morning. And it could be that you’ll spot a glaring error or two in your thinking.

    Distractions are so dangerous, that it’s worth taking a little extra time to figure out what is really causing them.

    Simply resolving to avoid them won’t solve your problem.

    You have to get to the root.

    Once you do that, you’ll find that your mind is no longer pulled here and there.

    Instead, you’ll be able to focus on the thing that you were trying to do in the first place, and in time your dream can become a reality.

    Bruce Hoag PhD
    The Internet Marketing Psychologist
    The Mindful Writer - for deep and persuasive copy

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