“Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short.”

– Adam Hochschild


The first week of January is when many people start their New Year with new goals to eat better and/or eat less. Conventional wisdom tells us that if our goal is to lose weight one key component to success will be to focus on taking in less calories. Resisting high calorie and high fat foods helps reach the goal of weight loss. But what if our goal isn’t to lose weight? What if our goal is to start listening to our calling? We may need to go on a “distraction diet”.

The 10 questions below are meant to help you assess your current level of focus. It will also help you identify energy drains or distractions that may be impeding your progress against goals. As you answer each question make sure to remind yourself that the answer will only be known by you (unless you choose to tell someone). Being honest with yourself will help you identify the things you want more of and the things you want less of. You may also want things to stay just as they are. They are only “distractions” if you’d rather be focused elsewhere.

Are you distracted?

  1. How focused am I on my purpose?
    • Laser focused: I spend almost all my free time thinking about my purpose and working on specific goals.
    • Locked and loaded: I spend a significant amount of my free time thinking about my purpose and working on specific goals.
    • In pursuit: I think about my purpose frequently and occasionally find time to set and work on specific goals.
    • All thoughts, no action: I think about my purpose occasionally but am rarely able to set goals or take steps toward them.
    • Fully distracted: I can barely find any time to think about my purpose and have no goals to act upon.
  2. Do I want to be more focused on my purpose than I currently am?
  3. Do I have enough mental energy to think about my purpose?
  4. If less distracted, could I make enough time in my life to plan goals?
  5. If less distracted, could I make enough time in my life to act upon my goals?
  6. Are there relationships in my life that use up time/energy I’d rather spend on my goals?
  7. Are there leisure activities in my life that use up time/energy I’d rather spend on my goals?
  8. How much time a day would I like to use for taking in information (news, social media, reading online articles, etc.)?
  9. What percentage of the information that I take in daily can be used towards my goals?
  10. How much do I want to increase the daily time I allocate towards information gathering and action items related to my goals?

What questions would you add to this list?


A few years ago, my office held a holiday decorating contest. We each had free reign to design and decorate our individual work spaces. This contest had no prize other than bragging rights, but it somehow developed into a very competitive affair. We all selected a theme and found time in our pretty busy days to shop and decorate. I can clearly remember going out and spending WAY too much money in a craft store. I also remember standing on a chair for well over an hour draping paper and gluing stars in the middle of an otherwise productive workday.

When judging time came, each person in the office received one vote for the grand honor of “Best Decorations.” No one could vote for themselves. Now I knew I worked with some pretty talented people, but these decorations were OVER THE TOP creative and well done. I walked around seriously wondering how I’d ever be able to pick my winner.

Then I saw it.

At the very end of a long hallway was an office space decked out in red, white and green with dancing elves. But not just any elves. These elves had individual pictures of everyone in the office pasted on them. It was brilliant.

The Office Elfs won the contest in a landslide. Why? Because most people like to see pictures of themselves. Whether we like our appearance or not, we’re drawn to look at what is physically unique about us. Our eyes. Our smile. And though I consider myself a humble person, I really enjoyed seeing the picture of my elf.

Humility is not at odds with us

Here’s how I view the practice of humility. Humility is the act of lowering our ego to cultivate compassion for and provide service to others. What humility is NOT is a reason to reduce your view of your capabilities. It is NOT an excuse to hide what is great about you.

  • Are you a writer? Are you a good writer? Share your writing. It can inspire, heal, entertain and inform.
  • Are you smart? Don’t dumb down your conversation to not intimidate people. You can stimulate new ideas and bring clarity to complex topics.
  • Do you have a hobby you know absolutely everything about? Make that known. Teach others and help create the feeling of community that comes from shared interests.

False humility goes directly against my definition of true humility. Hiding talents takes them away from the world you’re meant to be serving. You have your gifts for a reason and that reason is to use them to serve others. Don’t be shy. We need you.

Is there a gift you’ve been holding back from the world?