Getting rid of Stupid little distractions
Distractions are a pain in the buttocks, aren't they?
I've noticed that for some "odd reason" when you have the longest to do list ever distractions seem to "conveniently" sprout up everywhere.
"Oooh look! There's a new season of my favorite to binge watch!"
"I can't believe she said that on Facebook! I've got to respond RIGHT NOW!"
"Let me check my email...really quick..."
You know you've been there. I know I have.
We all deal with stupid little distractions. We all deal with those temptations to waste time, binge-watch a show, eat something we shouldn't, get lost in the internet vortex - whatever it is for you when we are victims of distractions.
Around this time last year I set my intention for 2017 focused on the idea of "letting go". I initially thought letting go meant getting rid of projects, saying "no" more often and not being so hard on myself.
I found out that "letting go" meant so much more.
This particular year I feel like I've had some breakthroughs in identifying my personal "stupid little distractions".
When I wrote the words "Let go, Let God" on my bathroom mirror in bright red lipstick at the end of last year, I was feeling really overwhelmed and lost. I didn't realize it then but my stupid little distractions had basically taken over my life. I couldn't distinguish my desires from the world's and I couldn't hear God very clearly. I just knew that I had a bad habit of picking up things I shouldn't simply because I was afraid of being bored, facing my fears or was too caught up in temporary insecurities.
In 2009 I started this journey online by creating Youtube videos about being a mom as well as a blog centered around lessons I was learning from God through my young children. The world of content creation was still young and innocent but it was quickly growing up and trying its hand at beauty reviews and earning money via content marketing. As I saw opportunities to earn money I wanted in. Especially since my husband was the only one working and he was dealing with health issues that were starting to take a toll on our income. I became obsessed with learning about digital marketing. There wasn't that much information out on the internet at the time so I would scour the web for hours until I fell asleep at the computer reading night after night.
It caused me to get short tempered with my kids, my husband, even myself. I had found my go-to drug of choice.
Over the years I would take a more sophisticated approach by actually spending money on courses and coaching to learn more. I even got a job at a marketing firm and was able to learn some principles of marketing and entrepreneurship from my amazing boss. But I couldn't seem to crack the code that would lead to me making millions of dollars on the internet.
This past year as we've dealt with moving to a new city, discovering I have Multiple Sclerosis and recovering from family loss; I've had to focus on what really matters most to me and what really makes me happy instead of trying to become the next internet sensation.
And that's when I started to find some peace.
Until recently when I started to feel a little frustrated with things in my life again. Now I have a job that I really love, I'm working to build a nonprofit with my husband and the kids are growing up healthy and happy. But that feeling of impatience with my acting career started to rise back up.
And off I went thinking that I could solve the problem by improving my presence on the web which led me back into the research rabbit hole on that good ole internet marketing subject.
I remember one evening sitting with my husband telling him about a recent internet marketing article I was reading and he said something to the effect "That's your crack, Dija."
I paused for a moment.
What did you say? MY CRACK? Should I be insulted?
Then I laughed out loud.
He was totally right. It was my crack.
See crack (cocaine) is a drug that is highly addictive. One reason people turn to drugs is to self-medicate and avoid dealing with whatever emotional, mental, physical, etc thing they need to deal with head-on.
It was at that moment when my husband (even jokingly) helped me see that I was spending my time on something that wasn't really helping me - in fact, it was hurting me I realized that this has been a stupid little distraction for a long time. I wasn't focusing on my strengths at all - I was obsessed with this weakness. My strength is in writing, producing, acting, and getting people together to achieve amazing things. Not necessarily understanding digital marketing.
I know marketing is important. I know that digital marketing is especially important in this day and age but it just produces real anxiety inside of me. It distracts me to the point that I'm spending precious time researching the latest tactics on Instagram rather than working on what gives me joy.
For the past few months I've made an intentional effort to wake up before everyone else in the house (yes around 5:30am) to focus on my strengths and my personal goals. I've taken so much joy seeking God and focusing on my writing in the wee hours of the morning. It's hard to wake up at times but I've learned that distractions don't like to wake up at 5:30am either.
You might be wondering how can I take comfort in focusing on the REAL work versus marketing my work? How can I just let go of the thing that everyone is clamoring after in terms of getting themselves "out there"?
Even if you weren't wondering I'm going to answer the question for you.
I've decided to just trust in God's word:
A man's gift makes room for him and brings him before great men. - Proverbs 18:16
One commentary says that a man's gift will help him make his way through life, frees him from oppressions and procures favor and conversations with great men.
Working in your gifts should feel easy and joyful, even if it's hard work. (It's not easy waking up so early to write!) For some reason we put a lot of emphasis on "hustling" and "the grind" in our culture. I suppose it's because functioning in your gifts is actually so much fun and easy, it almost feels like cheating when you are working in your gifts, doesn't it?
Notice how people who work in their gifts totally excel at what they do! Notice how no one can catch up with them or even copy those who work in their gifts. It's because they are driven by something deeper. It's because it's almost a subconscious function. They don't have to work as hard to experience to full of effect of talents, skill, gifts and hard work. When you work in your gift you have more stamina, more determination, more fulfillment - and no one can compete with you being the "most YOU" possible.
Think about people like:
- Saint Mother Theresa, Nobel Peace Prize Winner
- Serena Williams, Ranked No. 1 Singles Tennis
- Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Leader
- Michael Jackson, King of Pop
They worked their gifts, not their digital marketing strategies. Of course they eventually got to the point where other people who are gifted in those areas came alongside them - but that's not where they started. Eventually other people (coaches, managers, volunteers,etc.) were able to maximize what these amazing people were already doing.
The same is with us. We should spend time focusing on improving our gifts and skills. We should focus on becoming more of ourselves and allowing that to "make room for us". In due time we will have opportunities to stand before the people that will open more doors for us.
I also hold on to the following scripture.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. - Matthew 6:30-33
In this scripture, God clearly shows us how "all these things" will be taken care of if we seek Him first.
What are "these things" in your life? Is it financial gain? Improved health? Finding love? God knows that we need "these things" and He's made a promise that he will take care of it all if we focus first on Him.
It's not always easy to let go and trust these simple words, is it? I'm not sure why it's so tempting for us to step out of our gifts and try to take the burden of "making it happen" on our own strength - but it is. I can be tempted to look for quick fixes in every area except where God is saying "just be who I made you to be and trust me!"
In the past few months of trying to incorporate God's words into my life I've experienced:
- A more creative life
- Articles written about my work in a magazine and a newspaper.
- Opportunities to write for a magazine
- An opportunity to audition for a current TV show
- Opportunities to talk to several producers about my project ideas
- I'm working on two short films
- Invitations to events with community leaders
These are just a few things that have happened by letting go of distractions and focusing more on what I love. I'm sharing these things because of ONE thing.
I'm in awe that by focusing on the right things - the things that give me joy - I'm making progress without so much stress.
And I want you to make progress with less stress as well.
I feel like this is a life experiment really. I'm testing the mindset of "hustle and grinding" with what God says when it comes to living an abundant life. I don't get it right all the time but I'm excited about what I'm learning and have learned so far.
There is so much power in being able to identify your distractions in life and kick them out of your life. Today I want to encourage you to be mindful of what you spend your time on. Notice how it makes you feel. Ask yourself am I functioning in my gifts when I do this? Don't judge yourself just observe for now.
Spend a little time every day working in your area of giftedness. Choose to share what you're truly passionate about instead of what you think you're "supposed" to share. I believe it will bring more joy and new opportunities into your life.