Beautiful Exciting Distractions

Does your focus need more focus? Mine does quite often.

Weapons Of Mass Distraction (photo by Hunter Langston on Flickr)

The never-ending to-do list that seems to grow each day. No matter how many items get checked off, it just won’t get any smaller. Job, family, writing, yard work, exercise, the list of things that need to get done just doesn’t quit.

Funny how in the midst of all of this activity, other non-related interests can crop up. It seems like there wouldn’t be a spare minute to try and do anything else, but I’m drawn back into one of my other interests.

Many years ago I took a class on how to make wooden longbows and I really enjoy making them. They do take quite a bit of time to make, not to mention the need for tools and a workbench. As we are preparing to move to the boat, I don’t have a workbench and only a small selection of hand tools. No more power tools.

So making bows has pretty much been relegated to the mental attic to be pulled out some time in the future when I have access to power tools and a place to work.

Until I ran across some videos on YouTube by Nick, the Backyard Bowyer. He shares his techniques of building some really amazing bows with little more than PVC pipe and a heat source.

He is making bows that have some really advanced designs for traditional style bows. When they are painted, it is hard to tell the difference between them and their wooden cousins.

Oh great. One more thing that is crying for my attention when I’m already living on less than 6 hours of sleep a night. I really can’t afford to fit another thing on my plate right now. But that is not what my mind is telling me.

Stop!  You must resist!

“Come on, it’s just a few minutes of time. It doesn’t take a workbench or any big, expensive tools.”

Sure I could justify the few dollars of pipe and the time to make a couple of these. But do they get us any closer to getting on the boat and setting sail?

No, they don’t. They are a distraction. A wonderful, exciting, tantilizing distraction. One more thing that would take my focus off of what I need to get done so that we can achieve the dream we’ve been chasing for over a decade now.

Its funny how when we are on track to meet a long term goal, some part of our mind tries everything it can to get us to falter and derail us. There must be some kind of deep rooted fear that the subconscious is railing against that I’m not aware of. Why else would it be so tempting to devote some of my precious time to something that does not further our long term goals.

This is like the almost overwhelming desire to go shopping and spend money when you are trying to get out of debt. You may be very close to paying off and cutting up that last credit card and then you see “The Thing”. That one thing that you have wanted more than anything else for longer than you can remember, and when you see it, you must have it.

There is no rational reason to buy it, but it sings to you anyway. Seductively calling your name. Nearly impossible to resist.

STOP! You must resist! Don’t give in to its siren song. That is just your subconscious testing you to see if you are fully committed to reaching your goal.

I have to keep telling myself that while making longbows may be a fun thing to do, it isn’t getting us any closer to being on the boat. Focus! As Jackie Chan says in the Karate Kid, “Your focus needs more focus.”

So, I just tell my subconscious, “not yet” and put this distraction back up in my mind’s attic. It will be there once we are on the boat and I’ve got more free time than I know what to do with. Then it will be something that I can do with my kids. It will be something that I can teach others as we visit different ports on our journey.

It will no longer be a distraction, it will be a gift.

Make sure that your focus is strong enough to overcome the beautiful, exciting distractions that will come along. Know that they will be there once you reach your goals and then you can turn your focus on to them and they will no longer be a distraction.

What is your beautiful, exciting distraction and how are you overcoming it right now? Please share with us in the comments so we can all get better at overcoming them.


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9 Responses to Beautiful Exciting Distractions

  1. Adrianne May 15, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    I try to make a distraction a goal. There is this beautiful (well in my eyes) abandoned burned out villa around the corner from where I live. I want to spend all my time researching what it looked like, day dream about how much it would take to buy and renovate it. I have books on renovating homes in italy that I could read over and over again.

    But at the moment none of those things would actually get me closer to the real goal of obtaining it. So instead I try to focus on the task at hand and remind myself that I wont get there if I dont make progress on the other important things. Its like you said … Not yet 🙂 (but soon)!

    • Mike Routen May 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm #


      I love your distraction/goal! Restoring an Italian villa would pose so many wonderful possibilities.

      Keep focusing on the little tasks and eventually, you’ll be putting the finishing touches on your villa!

  2. Paige | simple mindfulness May 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Unfortunately my distractions aren’t nearly as fun. Mine are chores. With three little kids and lots of animals, chores take up a ton of my time. I gave up being a neat freak a long time ago but “clean enough” is still a lot.

    During the day when I’m not sure what to do next because I have too much on my plate, I mentally go through my top values and ask how each to-do would satisfy them. If there’s no relationship to a top value, the thing drops way down on my list. This kind of review helps me to prioritize.

    Even so, my focus still needs some focus. If it didn’t, I would have had my first program written and released months ago! 🙂

    • Mike Routen May 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm #


      I hear you with the chores. Good idea with evaluating each one against your top values to determine which ones get time and energy.

      So often I find myself half way through a task before realizing that I’m doing this out of habit or some sense of obligation that I have put on myself.

      Weighing each task before it is started is a great way to focus on the truly important things.

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Claire May 18, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    I find that I love my studies but when I have assignments to submit or exams to revise for I find other distractions. Some like Paige are chores that need attention, others are browsing the Internet for books or further studies(!) the really annoying thing is that when I eventually get started I become engrossed in it and love it.

    The best tip I have found comes from Mark Forster who writes and blogs on organising systems. He advocates just getting the file out. That simpl. Get the file, notes, book out. I often then find myself just reviewing it or sorting a couple of notes. Once I do this I find that I can do more. Sometimes I do no more than sort my notes but that feels like a small achievement and that encourages me to do more.

    • Mike Routen May 22, 2012 at 6:24 am #


      I like the simplicity of just getting the file out. That is a good first step that shouldn’t have any resistance inherent to it. Making that a habit, taking the first step, is a great way to overcome any hesitation or unintentional delay.

      Thanks for the tip!

  4. gabi klaf May 21, 2012 at 2:31 am #


    your article rings sooo true. it is sooo easy to find myself doing twenty other things online than what i intended to, than what brings me closer to my long-term goal. and this is true, back home or on the road around the world. the sub-conscious is sooo damn strong, and your post helps remind me how powerful i am to push him back into his place, and progress with that which i am passionate about.

    thank you


    • Mike Routen May 22, 2012 at 6:27 am #


      Thank you for stopping by. Funny how the subconscious mind is so sneaky. Always looking for the bright, shiny distraction.

      Keep pushing him back to his place and focusing on your passions.


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