Breaking the Feel-Good Addiction

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By Vickie Milazzo

In today’s world, we’re constantly sabotaged by nonproductive energy wasters. There are emails to read. Facebook statuses to update. Receipts to locate for that already-late expense report. Dishes to be washed. Files to be organized. And on, and on, and on. These are the easy, albeit often unproductive, tasks that make us feel good. They may not get you any closer to accomplishing your greater goals, but at least you’ve checked a couple of things off your to-do list.

Unfortunately, this addiction comes at a high price, because that cheap check-mark high is guaranteed to frustrate, overwhelm and stress you out in the long term. You feel busier than ever but are accomplishing less of real value.

I too am a happy checker-offer. Working for two hours on a huge project I won’t finish doesn’t release the same amount of endorphins as cleaning out my inbox. After two hours or so, I want to check something off my list. That’s when I indulge my own feel-good addiction and attack the stack of bills, plow into the financials, or grab my mouse to viciously click through my email.

Are these feel-good tasks the best use of our time? No, and they often snowball until an entire workday is behind you. One email leads to two. After all, it only takes two minutes to fire off an email. Then there are calls to be returned. Two minutes turns into 20 as one item leads to another. Even if you set them aside once you put your attention to them, these small tasks buzz around in your head and have the potential to distract you for hours. Before you know it, quitting time arrives and you haven’t accomplished a single step toward your most important goals.

Maybe it’s the curse of the modern world, but often, our important tasks fall prey to the feel-good addictions of easy ones. By majoring in minor things, we never get to our big commitments. Breaking these addictions opens the door to achievement. What you engage and focus on is where you will yield results.

Going after larger accomplishments — an addiction to momentum  is a far more lasting high than the transitory feel-good of checking off trivial tasks. Once you’re engaged in accomplishing what I call the “Big Things," you’ll approach routine matters with laser-sharp focus, quickly deleting, delegating and experiencing fewer distractions. More important, your creativity and productivity catch fire, and the momentum keeps you pumped. You’ll glide through your day full of confidence and satisfaction from achieving significant milestones.

Here are 12 easy steps to help you stop doing what feels good and start doing what matters:

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