Sidetracked by Secondary Activities

By Jill E. Wolforth- 


I always like to give credit when I borrow a quote or comment from someone.  Unfortunately, when I wrote down this week’s title, I didn’t reference its origin.  I do remember when I wrote it down that it was primarily intended for me but I also realized it was a great message for everyone.


Whether we’re discussing athletic training, work performance, or family relationships, we indeed are often “Sidetracked by secondary activity.”   For example, we frequently have an athlete say he wants to improve his performance, yet he only manages to train one or two days a week.  He’ll reference that he just hasn’t had time because he wanted to catch a movie one day, another day his girlfriend’s family had him over for dinner and then there was the school project he had put off that was now due, resulting in two more lost days.  By the way, he only used an hour a day to play his video games.  It’s just what he does when he comes home from school.  You see, he has a small competition going on with one of his friends.


Here’s a more specific baseball example:  These are the guys that show up to “practice”  or “train” every day but are sidetracked while there.  This can be in the form of constant conversations with everyone else that’s present.  It can be dawdling around with equipment, music or paperwork, etc., all of which are secondary activities; things that kill time but don’t help accomplish the ultimate task or goal.  Sometimes this is intentional but most times it’s simply being sidetracked.


Let’s move this into the “adult” world.  There’s a businessman who says he really wants the upper management position that’s opening up.  He has an important quota to meet and a big project to deliver that he believes are key to the move.  Instead of making a couple of extra sales calls or doing some additional research that could improve his odds of success, he’s sidetracked by secondary activities, most commonly going through email, surfing the internet, and catching up with his office buddies on last night’s big game.


We’re all guilty, just to varying degrees.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the title really grabbed me personally.  The nasty web created by secondary activities is that they often keep us busy, leading us to believe “something” is being accomplished.  The problem is that “something” is usually not productive or not nearly as productive as the things we really should be focused on.


The other nasty truth about secondary activities, and why they are so appealing to us, is that they are usually easier than the primary activity.   Generally, if we don’t give it much thought, we are inclined to choose things that are easier.  The discipline needed to be exceptional at anything is not easy but it is a choice.  It starts by putting first things first and secondary activities second.


We all get sidetracked from time to time.  The key is to get back on track as quickly as you can.  Sometimes it takes a daily reminder.  I’ve created my own little sign which says, “Are You Being Sidetracked…?”  It’s just a quick check up for me.


This week I challenge you to evaluate yourself and determine if you’re being sidetracked by secondary activities.


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