We were about 70% of the way through the podcast I was doing with Drew Hull and James Gilreath reviewing our 2019, and I got to the question where I asked both of them about the biggest head trash each of them had to battle in 2019. If I could utilize a word to describe the reaction of their faces when I asked them that question, it would be that they found the question utterly distasteful. This response truly made me step back and think, why is head trash so painful, even though it’s so prevalent. We want to lose weight, yet we don't believe we can. We want to start a new project, yet we need to be perfectionists and it needs to be perfect before we even get started. Why is there this little voice in the back of our mind keeping us from taking action? Well, let's first think through why head trash is even part of our daily existence.
Fundamentally, I believe that it comes from the fact that we're overstimulated in our society with all kinds of information. A hundred years ago, if we were farmers, we had one job to do every day. We planted seeds and then we watched them grow until they were ready to be harvested. It was a relatively simple process that we did every single day. There was one process, that we were probably taught by our family, and we had nothing else to do. If this was not done, then we all starved. On top of that, so much of our survival was completely out of our control. If the weather was bad, for example, if it didn't rain or if there was a drought we were done for and it wasn't even our fault. Ironically, because we had so very little choice in our lives, we would have had a level of freedom that I don't think we can achieve in the modern world. It was simple, we had to provide for our families, because we had to eat.
Today, in 2020, there's a million different things coming at us in the form of open distraction and hidden productivity. Everything from social media, to e-mails, to projects, to sales calls we are constantly in a battle for our own self-control. Everything is pulling at us at different rates and at different times, distracting us from what is the most important thing we need to accomplish. We have the freedom and time to not have to fend for our survival day in and day out, which allows for us to spend mental energy on overthinking even the simplest tasks. And with the new ability to have freedom from both survival and relationships we have to maneuver all kinds of new social issues. We constantly run the risk of hurting some key relationships for the long-term because we didn’t respond to an e-mail in time. Ask yourself, how ridiculous that concept seems when you read it on a screen?
I think a lot about the different head trash that I've had to deal with over the years, and I've thought a lot about how much of that head trash was really forced onto me by outside circumstances rather than anything that was really going on personally. Think about how many times you're told that something can't be done. Not that you can't do it, but that just something can't be done in general. People like you can't run a half marathon, or people like you can't start a business. One after another these comments and thoughts just start stacking up and building on each other like a snowman, and next thing you know you're surrounded by head trash and you're paralyzed.
So, how do we get out of this fiasco? I think it begins with acknowledging the constant spinning of our wheels that’s happening in our brains and then beginning the process of decluttering. I recommend you do this basic exercise for yourself to prioritize your energy towards specific tasks every single day. It’s one of the fundamental concepts of the Full Focus Planner that we discussed in that episode. You can do this either the night before or the morning of your workday. Write down, up to, the 3 most important tasks that have to be accomplished for the day to be considered a success. Every other task outside those Top 3, is an auxiliary task that would be good to accomplish but is not necessary. Until the Top 3 tasks are done nothing else gets completed. This creates a deadline within our day to where it doesn't allow for us to overthink the actions that we need to do in order to move us closer to our objectives. Give this a try, I’ve found it to be incredibly effective in my own personal life. The worst thing that can happen is you rein in some of the head trash that you've got going on personally. Don't give outside forces the power to ruin your productivity and to keep you from achieving your goals. Take control of this modern jungle of distractions and overthinking, and channel your energy to move your life in the direction that you want, not the direction that the outside world wants for you.