Ever want your own deserted island so that you could...? Why? MAKE one!
Friday, April 23, 2021
Here's why. We are surrounded by temptation and distraction. And a deserted island is a simple way of removing those very powerful interruptions to pursuing our goals. Let's face it! We know we humans tend to choose the short term pleasure at hand over the long-term pleasure of achieving what we most want in our lives for ourselves. But what if YOU REALLY COULD create your deserted island escape right here at home, without all the perilous deprivation that a real deserted island entails? Well, you sort of.... CAN.
You can change your environment AT HOME -- and it is very POWERFUL.
Environmental changes are one of the most effective behavior change techniques, whether you’re talking about habits or motivation. It is not self-control or other personal variables that we think when we think about achieving goals.
Let me repeat that: ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE IS ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE BEHAVIOR CHANGE TECHNIQUES. See? You knew that deserted island idea was a good idea all the time! But how to do it?
You already know that too. You must remove the distractions.
Becoming "in-distractable" requires an understanding of WHY you lose FOCUS and learning the skills to do as you say. Establishing healthy habits, breaking out of your unproductive routines, and making time for what matters help you stay focused. By learning not to complain, scheduling indulgences, and understanding your internal triggers, you can harness the power to stay focused.
So... Do you have a phone? Watch TV? Get on the computer? Have friends? Have a place to live that you call home? This is your environment and this is where your power is to create your deserted island where you can remove distractions and allow yourself to become focused on your goals! Remember: changing your environment is the MOST POWERFUL thing you can do to make it easy to change your behaviors to reach your goals.
I mean, deserted islands don't have pizza and ice cream -- so it is super easy to develop habits of not eating pizza and ice cream. Deserted islands don't have TVs and phones and computers advertising pizza and ice cream and the latest consumer-item-of-your-choice (here's looking at you, Amazon!) -- that KEEP you craving those things, distracting your energy, changing your focus from the achievement of your goals...
And that brings us back to removing the distractions from your environment. No, it isn't reasonable to stop watching TV, to cancel your phone, to eliminate the computer and erase friends, family, and home from your life. But you do NOT have to be at their every beck and call 24/7! You DO have to be ruthless about carving out time and space for your goals. This is the beginning of new habits that will work for you to achieve your goals.
Arrange at least a small place at home and in your head where you will work on achieving your goals. Maybe it is a desk in the corner of your bedroom, a kitchen clean of tempting foods, a clear workbench equipped with the tools you need, a comfy chair with a lamp behind your shoulder, athletic shoes and gear and a clear idea of where, when, and how you will use them..... In the beginning, to prevent yourself from circling thoughts, WRITE DOWN your inspirations, motivations, ideas, and plans. This helps you focus -- and focus tighter -- on what works for YOU.
Remove pizza and ice cream (these words are just stand-ins for YOUR temptations) and other temptations from your home. Tell yourself you can have them when you are NOT at home. Pay to watch TV such that you can skip over ads so to reduce cravings and time-wasting. Don't follow the temptations/distractions that pop up ( at least for a you-predetermined specific period every day). Turn off (yes, OFF!) your phone, your computer, your TV, and other time-wasters and distractions for a specific determined time every day. Yes, ALL of them off at the same time! THIS is your "deserted island!" Tell everyone you cannot be reached during this time. 10 minutes to start? Hopefully, an hour! Build up your tolerance. It will get easier the more you practice. And you will become more productive when you eliminate the time-wasting distractions.
I started with one hour. It was hard. I didn't have a free hour to spare, I told myself! But I did ---because at the same time, I promised myself to not read all those interesting (and endlessly repetitious) articles I randomly came across. Just a little self discipline! One hour became 3; became a half-day... and yesterday, I finally was free to ignore the computer for a full day! This took.... 2 months? And I haven't missed a thing!
Meet your friends -- not at the usual restaurant or bar, but at the park. Bring a frisbee or other toy of your choice, just in case..... No takers? Then at the Nature Museum, the art show, the botanical gardens, the hiking trail, the free outdoor summer concert nights, the free "learn how to" classes at Home Depot..... Change your environment -- change your behavior. Shake it up; try new things..... It might take a few tries to find what works best to elicit support of your new habits that you are consciously trying to form.
And eventually, with a little discipline to practice eliminating your distractions, you will find yourself with hours to spend on your "deserted island." At first, it will be a little scary because you find you are insufficiently prepared for "nothing to do." At the beginning, if all you've got is 10 minutes, then USE them! Remember you have pen and paper to write down your thoughts on identifying and achieving your goals. When you have an hour, you'll have enough time maybe to run an errand to gather supplies to stock your "island." You already have your written notes of what you need, RIGHT?
And then, all of a sudden, you have the time, the equipment, the mental energy, and the desire -- all at the same time! You find that you are DOING it! You ARE! You've established habits! You've changed your environment at least enough to start!
By eliminating distractions and time wasters from a small portion of your day AND dedicating that small amount of time to focusing on your goals (one of which is eliminating more distractions and time wasters), AND trying to slowly increase that time that you can dedicate to yourself, you're changing your environment to support you in getting what you really want -- not just getting what is easy at hand. As you go, you discover more distractions and figure out how to remove more and more distractions, and it gets easier and more rewarding; eventually you'll find you've created your "desert island" -- one specifically designed to support YOU.
One more note: "change your environment to change your behavior to reach your goals" works for everyone, any goals (except the purely fantasy ones).... It may be that you have genuine problems blocking you from achieving your goals, but now you will have the time, energy, knowledge, habits, and focus to figure out how to get rid of what is blocking you.