“He believes that the PRESENT is the only real thing and everything else is an illusion, a distraction”
Jennifer DeLucy, Seers of Light
“Focus helps you do something. Distraction makes you avoid doing anything.”
Mani S. Sivasubramanian
When something is worrying me, I tend to do one of two things in regard to my writing. I either start writing with passion, focus, and determination, or I avoid my work altogether. Sadly, I’ve chosen the latter for much of the morning. I have gotten things done, but it’s taken me longer than usual to sit down and write. I have also been accosted by the usual statements from my mind:
· You have nothing more to say.
· Your car/place/kitchen/children/etc./ need attention right now.
· Look at all the nice comics/Facebook pages/irrelevant news stories/movies/etc./ there are to see.
· You should play an online game.
· You should take a nap. You look tired.
· You deserve a day off. You need a day off. You’re overdoing it. It’s not good for your health.
· This isn’t getting you anywhere.
On and on it goes. My choices are to listen to and heed one of these statements, or to keep writing. It’s funny how these thoughts come whenever I sit down to do my work. One would think that they would stop after 600 blogs. I often imagine the Enemy saying, “Well, boys, let’s stop bothering him. He’s obviously not giving up. He’s going to keep writing no matter what we say or what life throws at him. So we might as well leave him alone.”
Of course that never happens. There’s never a day when I’m not filled with doubt, fear, busyness, and/or distractions. I suppose I shouldn’t use a word like “never.” It’s so absolute. If it’s not “never,” it’s pretty close. I can’t remember a day when moving towards my goals was easy. That’s not to say it hasn’t been fun, invigorating, exciting, and transformative, but it has never been easy. This is not a complaint. This is a fact.
Once I create goals, I create opposition. Goals and opposition go hand-in-hand like night and day. Without opposition, the goals would be meaningless and the victories empty. The opposition and my struggles against it create the meaning. In a way, the Enemy is my Friend. But only in a way.
God is not the Devil. The Devil is a necessary evil, but it is evil, and its goal is nothing less than my destruction and the destruction of my goals and dreams. So, what do I do? I just keep working. And when my work gets delayed due to internal or external factors, I get back to it as quickly as possible. It’s no coincidence that no matter how much angst, fear, or fatigue I’m feeling, I always feel better while working. There’s another absolute – “always.” If it’s not “always,” it’s pretty close.
So today, and every day, I need to plan my day around my goals. In that way, even when it seems that I am not working towards my goals, I will be working towards my goals. I may be thinking about them. Or I may be staying more present in other activities, thus enabling myself to enjoy all of my life without resentment over “interruptions.”
There are also small strategies I can use during my non-working times. For example, one of my goals is to read for at least an hour a day. I can’t always physically read a book, but I can listen to an audio book while driving. Or I can keep a paperback in my pocket while I’m with my kids. When they are busy, I can read a page or two, or even a paragraph or two. I usually bring a journal wherever I go. I might have a few minutes to write. The other day I had my computer and wrote about half a blog while my girls were happily running through the fountains at the mall. They were happy to have me there, I was happy to be writing, and we were all happy to be together.
Sometimes I have to put my work down for a while. Sooner, rather than later, I will return to it. If I create structure and start my work as soon as possible, I will be much more present and happier in my work hours and my non-work hours. I also find that much of what happens in my non-work hours provides material for my work hours. Another very helpful strategy is to get up early. Often I wake up at 5:00 a.m. By 7:00, much of my work is done and I’m free to focus on other things. When I begin working as soon as possible, it clears my mind and my schedule. I often find my work is better this way.
The best strategy is to take action. If I woke up late, or gave into procrastination, or played an online game for two hours, it doesn’t mater anymore. Regret and self-recrimination are just two more tools the Enemy uses to keep me from doing my work. All that matters is now, and doing my work now.
So today I will focus on reading, writing, spending time with my Muse, and my other goals. I will eliminate or the distractions as quickly and calmly as possible. I will Get Started and Keep Going.