Derailed by Distraction

By Sukhbir S —

When we all hear the word “failure”, some of us may see it as a big catastrophic event that happens all at once. However, that is very far from the actuality of what failure is. Failure is not a big event, but rather the culmination of many seemingly irrelevant things, that all coalesce into what looks like one big event.

How many of us have been distracted at one time or another? How many of us, when we have something to do, actually do it in installments and get distracted while we are doing it. For example, we have to make a call to our customer, and we’re about to do so when a message pops up on our smartphone. We know that it is not urgent, but we feel compelled to have a look at it (it’s right there in our line of sight). To the distracted mind, reading this message is more important than making the phone call so “making the phone call” takes a back seat. We now pick up the phone to read the message. However, we also see all the other messages from our other chat groups and we decide to read those too. Before we know it, twenty minutes have passed by and that phone call has not been made. It is also possible that we have completely forgotten about the phone call because the contents of the chat have completely changed our train of thought (this is how you begin with a video related to a current political event and end up watching a video of a cat doing hip hop dance!). You have been derailed by distraction. Your train of thought has officially been derailed and you might not be able to get it back onto the right track.

“So what does it matter? It’s only twenty minutes,” you say. Well, think about it, you are simply looking at the actual time that you lost; not the potential of the moment that you lost. Think about what you have gained in that twenty minutes by going through your messages. Were they so important? What you really lost was not only twenty minutes in real-time. You lost the potential of what those twenty minutes could have been used for. You lost the potential of what those twenty minutes, used differently, would have led you to do and all the potential effects of that action that would reverberate into your future. You didn’t just lose twenty minutes. You lost much more than that.

Distraction is one of the key causes of failing to reach your goals. As the ever-inspiring personal development master the late Jim Rohn reminds us, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. It is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure.”

Distraction is not something that happens. This has to be made clear. Distraction is actually a choice. It might be an unwise choice to follow, but it is a choice that we make. Knowing that it is a choice that we make, we have no person or circumstance other than ourselves to blame for the consequences of this choice. Are the consequences worth the few minutes that we idle away in something completely irrelevant to the maximization of our quality of life? One year from now, you will have arrived. The question is: where? Where you arrive one year from now is dependent on where your focus is right now.

One year from now, you could be in a very different place from where you currently are or you can be in the same place; if not worse off. Of all the places to be, the worst is definitely in the state of mind of regret. What if one year from now you find you are where you do not want to be and are thinking back with regret about all the things you could have done but didn’t do that would drastically make a difference in where you are in your life.

What a difference one year can make if you begin to commit to and start walking towards your desire beginning right now! If you start walking, practicing a few disciplines every day, you will be moving toward your goals. If you allow yourself to be distracted, you will be committing an error in judgment and most probably not reaching your goals.

So, the decision is up to you. What is your desired future worth to you? Does it mean anything to you? If it means something to you, it is time to eliminate this subtle failure-maker called distraction from your life. It is time to commit to where you want to be, know that it is possible, and start to move towards it. You can definitely take some breaks along the way, but you cannot afford to be distracted. The only price to pay for distraction is regret.

Commit to a vision of where you will be one year from now. Be clear as to why you want it. Then begin to work towards it daily by practicing a few disciplines the first of which is to learn to keep your mind free from distraction when you are working towards creating your future. Remember, success is nothing but a few disciplines practiced every day. Surely, practicing a few disciplines a day is worth the time and effort when you know that what you’re doing is moving you unerringly towards the life that you have designed for yourself.

Hi, I’m Sukhbir Singh, the author of this article and I like to write and share personal insights with all who enjoy the growth process. My intention in sharing and writing these articles is to be of service to you by inspiring you to become aware of your own ability to make a difference in your life through using the strategies shared through the articles.

I can be reached at for any questions, comments, and events / personal coaching inquiries.

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