Have you ever engaged in a difficult activity and lost focus when distracted by someone much better, then failed in a major way? I have. Many times when attempting to fulfill a goal and while ice skating.
Failure happens when we attempt to reach a super tough goal but focus our attention on something else.
It can be as simple as an off-hand glance or a quick comparison. A distraction that causes doubt can result in SPLAT! We hit the frozen lake HARD.
After watching the movie Hans Brinker when I was a kid in Madison, Wisconsin, I wanted to skate just like him. Santa provided the ice skates and Dad drove our family to Lake Wingra.
I was sure I’d glide just like Hans. My mom laced the hooks on my skates in the warming house while some skaters chatted on benches and others clomped past on their sharp blades. Once on the ice, I lost my confidence. My parents pointed out the sharp teeth on the front of my skates. I tentatively pushed ahead.
After a few steps, I looked up as another skater swooshed by. Down I went. I quickly learned that concentrating on my feet was necessary to complete my goal of staying in the upright position. This spared my poor posterior.
Changing my gear
Years later, I tried hockey skates. Seduced by the dark sturdy leather, I asked a friend, Jim Mullen, if I could try them. He and my friends cracked up laughing as I stepped forward and faceplanted on the ice. The toothless blades made pushing off so awkward. After a few quick smackdowns, I switched back to my old skates.
The Winter Olympics
A year later, Jim tried out for the Olympics. He drove to the trials with other skaters like Eric Heiden.
When Jim started his speed skating trial, he flew ahead of the pack. How far ahead, he didn’t know. With the finish line right in front of him, he looked over his shoulder to check. He wiped out and finished last.
Distraction can upend us. It takes us away from what we are doing. We lose focus. Are we progressing toward our goal or are we more concerned with what our competitors are doing? It’s a good question.
When we compare our progress to others and fall short, it can send us into a self-destructive tailspin. The absolute worst outcome is the loss of hope. We may feel like quitting.
This can happen when we have unrealistic expectations. We want to be like Hans or The Bloggess or some other person with celebrity status. It’s important and healthy to have goals but comparing ourselves to those who have already made it to the top after tons of hard work is unfair. Lower your expectations.
How do we pick ourselves up again?
By remembering why we started. Reaching our goal might take longer than we expect. Our baby steps have to align with our goals. We might need the help of a mentor or a bullet point journal. But if we keep putting one foot in front of the other, and really concentrate, who knows what we’ll achieve?
Did you notice my skates?
I recorded that gif file a few years ago. Danny read the article and said I had to use it. What a good sport! BTW, I haven’t skated since my knee surgery, but now I have knee pads. Luckily, I didn’t have to use them.
What do you find the most distracting? Do your goals align with your baby steps? When was the last time you ice skated?