I get easily distracted. I know what I’m supposed to do next, but then something crosses my mind and I feel the compulsion to explore it. Find out the details. Make the connection. Chase the rabbit trail…only to forget what I was originally doing.
I know this confession likely comes as a surprise to many of my friends. To so many people I am the focused one. I am the one who checks everything off the list. I am typically on-point and on-task. And this is true most of the time.
As a matter of fact, this blog post is because one of those rabbit trails (although I’d rather call it divine inspiration based off a real-life experience). One afternoon I started to write an email for work, but my mind was wandering because of a recent text I’d received. “Real quick,” I thought, “I’ll pop online and find the answer.” Sure enough, three minutes later I had found what I was looking for, but had also temporarily forgotten what I was supposed to be doing. Sigh.
How easily do we get distracted like this in our spiritual life? We get started on a good path of prayer, Bible reading, and small group gatherings but get distracted by other things that pop onto our radar. We pause and pursue, forgetting our original intent. We come back weeks later to the same chapter in the Bible we were reading – and have been reading for months. We recommit to praying each morning to “start the day off right” but hit the snooze time after time, day after day, and get off track. We sign up for a small group then forget to attend. And how often do we do this with our gym workouts or healthy eating or church attendance or calling family? The list goes on and on.
And while none of us can be perfect in our focus, there’s merit to working on being more focused. Our culture has moved away from this practice. We practically boast in the fact that we have a hard time focusing or are excellent at multitasking. It’s a badge of honor. But for so many of us, it’s an excuse to over-schedule and under-deliver. It’s an excuse because we’re bored with what we’re supposed to be doing. It’s an excuse to procrastinate and avoid working on our goals. As we multitask it’s an excuse to avoid connecting with the people around us and to keep us from authentic relationships. It’s an excuse to make our smart phones our focus.
Don’t misunderstand me…some people are amazing at multitasking and do it well. And others indeed have attention deficits and require medication to help them focus more. I’m not knocking either of those groups. But I do feel that so many of us should call ourselves to a higher standard. We need to remember what it’s like to focus, train our eyes on a single goal and accomplish it.
Where does that start? It starts with one step at a time. It starts by allowing yourself the freedom to not get distracted while you’re reading an article, researching online or writing an email (a-hem, preaching to myself here). Because let’s face it, there’s great freedom in keeping our eyes on the prize and completing a goal quickly.
Where does focus need to start for you? How do you stay focused (alone or in a group)? I’d love to hear from you!
An aside, I jotted initial notes about this post at work and promptly got back to that email I was writing.