What Are They, Anyway?
by Karen Williams and Diana Kardia
Through many years of trial and error, we all have developed our own individual techniques of avoidance, our own most effective ways to avoid things that we want to avoid. (And, ironically, often the things we are avoiding are the very things we most long to do!)
|A caveat: This is not to say that all Distractions or Seductions are bad - or that everything that fits in those categories is bad! Life in all its glory is just not black and white. Knowing when we are distracting ourselves from what we truly desire to be doing as opposed to (for example) taking care of something that's important requires discernment. And there's the trick.|
As we've looked at these, we see two general categories: distractions and seductions. Which type do you prefer?
Signature: External justification – obligation or duty.
Distractions are activities which reliably seem important, even critical, but which actually are not and moreover don’t actually serve our priorities. They are usually activities which are quite useful – yes, even at times critical - but we use them to put something else, i.e., our scary projects, off. They generally fall into two categories that carry the overall theme of “Of course it’s important!:”
- I’ll Just Get That out of the Way: Things you choose to do without any explicit external prompting.
Examples: checking e-mail, doing routine paperwork, doing the dishes, eating when not hungry (because, after all, it's lunchtime and we'd have to eat sometime)
- Ok, I’ll Do It, Just Leave Me Alone! Things that others prompt you to do.
Examples: favors for friends or family members, cleaning out the garage, paying attention to the pet
Signature: Internal justification – comfort, lures, thrills and promises!
Seductions are activities that promise us something. This may take the form of an indulgence, or it could be something brand-new or engrossing. This second type can be harder to recognize – when they first appear, they usually seem to be really worthwhile. When they fail to fulfill their promise, we often attribute that to chance or personal failure instead of examining our initial choice. We can also feel a bit embarrassed about participating in any of these.
Seductions generally fall into three categories:
- I Just Feel Like It: Entirely unimportant but familiar activities that simply comfort us.
Examples: watching TV, playing computer or video games, eating for entertainment, certain kinds of reading
- Wow! Gotta have/do that NOW! New ideas, activities directions or toys that seem so compelling that we want to drop everything else immediately to pursue them (without ever truly testing them against the priorities we’ve carefully laid out).
Examples: launching the hottest new marketing campaign with Google, starting a new book/writing project before the current one is complete, get-rich-quick real estate seminar, 10-minutes-a-day-to-perfect-abs, the latest PDA or a new car
- Just a Minute, One More Thing! Activities that end up taking an inordinate amount of time relative to their benefit, just because they are so engrossing.
Examples: installing and learning all the quirks of a new computer program, research on the Internet, keeping the old car/boat/motorcycle/lawnmower running
Most of us are susceptible to both, depending on our mood. And, a strong bout of obligation-based Distractions may send us on a Seduction spree - because, after all, we deserve it!
As you go through you day, watch how you make choices, how you decide what is important to do now rather than later, how you organize and prioritize your activities. What actually gets done is what you, at some conscious or unconscious level, have put highest on the list.
Are you doing what you most desire to be doing?
If you'd like to explore how Distractions and Seductions play out in your life,
check out our Distractions and Seductions Workbook.
What's the relationship between the Board of Mis-Directors and Distractions and Seductions?
Read more here!
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