What’s Holding You Back?
Are you doing what you believe you are meant to be doing? Or are you working simply for the paycheck?
Are you doing things and making choices to make a few people in your life happy?
Are you hiding behind busy-ness—e-mails, paperwork, work— that keeps you busy but does not move you toward your true life’s work and dreams?
It’s so easy to get sidetracked with distractions all around us in a world of sensory overload. But what if you’re actually choosing to be sidetracked by all the busy-ness? Making that choice because it’s safe, comfortable, and keeps you from asking yourself—and pursuing—what you really want to be doing?
Often, when I have a difficult phone call to make or a tough conversation to have with a business partner, I find myself buried in my e-mails, tiding up my office, or taking my dog for a walk— anything to keep me from doing what I know I have to do. Why? Because what I have to do is uncomfortable.
In Steven Pressfield’s latest book, Turning Pro – Tap your inner power and create your life’s work, he calls this being addicted to distractions. Distractions come in all shapes and colors…drug and alcohol addictions, constant texting and Facebook, never-ending problems, drama, money, procrastination, sex, sports, and hobbies… just to name a few.
What is the benefit of distractions?
Our distractions keep us from coming face-to-face with our true calling—our life’s work, our destiny, and our purpose for being.
Why in the world would you not want to know and pursue your life’s calling? Simple. It takes work… a lot of work. That also means it can be very uncomfortable at times.
I get distracted when I need to sit down and write, whether it’s an article, a blog, or a book. I get distracted from reading my investment newsletters. I get distracted from preparing for a talk I’m going to deliver. It’s a constant battle.
Steven says, “Painting, writing, starting a new business venture, doing charity work, or even just putting everything we have into the work we’re already doing, is waylaid again and again by that chattering critic inside our heads.”
In Steven’s earlier book, The War of Art (one I highly recommend as well), he called this chatter Resistance. He said, “Resistance stops us from committing to the important work of our lives—not just committing to it but fighting like hell to get it done.”
Do you know anyone who bounces from diet to diet struggling to lose those extra pounds? They know what they need to do: change their diet and exercise. It’s no major revelation. Yet, the fight continues. That’s Resistance. That’s a distraction.
What is the #1 thing that causes us to choose a distraction over our calling?
According to Pressfield, it’s fear. Fear of what? It’s not what you think. The number one fear that holds people back from fulfilling their true work is the fear of “being excluded from the tribe, i.e. the gang, the posse, mother and father, family, nation, race, religion.” People are so afraid of what other people will think of them that they live their lives just to fit in with those around them, rather than do what they truly want to do.
This rang very true for me. I did a lot of things in my life so that people would like me. I wanted to be liked… by my tribe and beyond. But here’s the kicker to it all. As Steven says, “The tribe doesn’t give a sh_t.”
He goes on,
“That gang or posse that we imagine is sustaining us by the bonds we share is in fact a conglomeration of individuals who are just as f___ked up as we are and just as terrified. Each individual is so caught up in his own bullsh_t that he doesn’t have two seconds to worry about yours or mine, or to reject or diminish us because of it.
When we truly understand that the tribe doesn’t give a d__n, we’re free. There is no tribe and there never was. Our lives are entirely up to us.”
What’s the bottom line to all this?
Every one of us has a calling, fear, a gift to give. In many cases, we’re so concerned about what our family or friends will say or think of us if we stray from what’s comfortable or familiar that we choose the path of least resistance.… fearful that, if we don’t, people may stop talking to us. (That’s happened to me.) Or it may be that we just don’t want to work that hard to bring our life’s work to fruition.
Maybe your life’s work is as an artist, an entrepreneur, a mechanic, a tennis player, or a baker. Whatever it is, it is inside of you. Maybe you’ve already discovered it, or maybe it’s bubbling to the surface.
How will you know when you’ve touched on your calling? You will feel a lot of fear.
Why? Because there will be no one to blame, no excuses or justifications. There will just be you… who may be different from the you you’ve been living.
Here’s to bringing your gift, your life’s work, to the world.