Everybody knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Seems kind of obvious… but how often do we forget this simple “law”? For me, this has often been a challenge.

Does this ever happen to you? It’s time to clean up. OK, gotta wash the dishes… but what are those papers over there on the table? Better move them first. I’ll put them in the basket of stuff that needs to be filed. Oh oh, forgot to brush my teeth. Better do that. OK… so what was I doing? Ah, yes… I was washing the dishes. Right, I’ll go back to do that. I see another paper in the wrong place… oh—I remember now… I left those other papers in the bathroom when I brushed my teeth. Better collect those and put them where they belong… and so on and so on. I can start a small project and make it a big one because in putting something away I can decide that entire closet needs to be reordered, which means removing everything from it… and once that is done, I have to go through it all and decide on whether to keep it and where the right place to put it is—which may mean I have to reorder another closet.

Another great example of getting side-tracked is email, or the telephone. You sit down with the intention of getting to work on something, then notice that you have email or voice mail, and then have to check it. Once you’ve checked it, you have to respond. If you respond to email, there may be some links in there that will take you to the internet and then you’ll be falling into that rabbit hole.

The worst place for this kind of distraction is when we are distracted from what our life goals are. If you decide you want to be writer, but then realize you need a job, and you get a job with a lot of responsibility, and then feel too busy to write, it’s going to be difficult to achieve that goal. So you need to think about ways that will help you go in as straight a line as possible to your goal–if you are really serious about your goal. This is going to mean that you will have to devote some time to it on a regular basis… daily, weekly, monthly. You may need to use some imagination or ingenuity to think of ways to work on your goals. Can you learn to be a better delegator? Have you learned to stop when something is “good enough”? Are there things you can read, write, or listen to as you are  commuting to and from your job? Is there something you can do during your lunch break? Is there a place and/or a time that you can set aside at home, after the kids are in bed (if you have kids), or even early in the morning? There is very little chance of achieving something without putting in consistent (and persistent) action.

Even if you do not have 8 hours a day to devote on your ultimate goal… do you have one or two? Do you have 30 minutes? What do you have? What can you put into place so that you are thinking in terms of that straight line—of getting from point A to point B? What distractions can you eliminate? What time can you carve out for your goals?


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