• Tom Lahdenranta

What I Wish Someone had Told Me When I was 20

I have discovered the secret to a happy and successful life! And it is so simple! I know you are probably skeptical, but stick with me for a few minutes, because if you apply this your life will be transformed.

This is not some secret that was handed down to me by a wise and all-knowing sage. This is wisdom that was gained the hard way. By me failing over-and-over again to make the changes I needed to make in my life. And by watching those close to me make the same mistakes and seeing the pain it caused in their lives.

The life-changing bit of wisdom that I want to share with you is this: STOP DISTRACTING YOURSELF FROM REALITY! That’s it. It is simple, but not easy. Do not distract yourself from the reality of your own life.

I see people everywhere living a life that they are not happy with. Maybe they hate their job, maybe they are miserable in their relationship, or maybe they hate their body because they are unhappy with how they look.

Regardless of the reason for their unhappiness, the response is the same. People are distracting themselves from what they do not like about their lives. We all do this. Some of us more than others. It doesn’t matter what form of distraction you use, the result is the same. Nothing changes!

Think about your own life. Is there any area of it that you really want to change, but rather than taking action, you have opted for some form of distraction instead?

Dreading My Job

There have been several periods in my life where I have worked in jobs that I really did not enjoy. When I would get home from work, I would try and distract myself from thinking about it. It was as if I was pretending that I didn’t have to go back to that job the next day, so that I could enjoy my time away from it. So I would drink some beer, eat some junk food, or watch TV to distract myself. Sometimes I would just play video games all night long to escape the real life that I didn’t like all that much.

I know people who work in jobs that make them miserable and they just try and make it through to the weekend, where they can distract themselves from it, but then reality hits again every Monday morning. Or they look forward every year to when they take two weeks off to go to Mexico, where they can get drunk every day, eat way too much, and lay on the beach taking selfies. They can distract themselves from the reality of a life that they are unhappy with. The reality though is this: after two weeks you go back to the same life you are unhappy with. You just distracted yourself from the problems for a while.

Hating My Body In my early 20’s, I was very unhealthy. At one point I was over 60 pounds heavier than I am now. I did not like my body and I didn’t think any girl would find me attractive. So I would distract myself from that uncomfortable reality the same was as I did with the jobs that I didn’t like. I would drink some slurpees or beers with my buddies who were also unhealthy and overweight. We played video games late into the night, which allowed me to enter into an alternate reality where I was a somebody. A kick-ass warrior who other online gamers respected. But it was all an illusion, just a bunch of pixels on a computer screen. And it was my distraction that kept me from making the changes that I needed to make in my life.

Avoiding My Relationship Many of us distract ourselves the same way in our relationships. I have known couples who, when they finally get their kids to bed and could have some quality time with each other, they’ll instead turn on the TV and barely speak to one another. Deep down they know something is wrong with their relationship, but instead of engaging with each other, they choose to distract themselves from the problem by watching other people live their lives on TV.

I know this form of distraction well, because I have been guilty of it myself many times. For years I was obsessed with following professional sports, mostly NHL hockey. I let that consume my focus and energy. It was more important for me to watch grown men in costumes playing a game on TV, then it was to focus that time and energy on my marriage and my personal health.

Transforming My Life The point I am trying to make with all these examples is this: when there were things in my life that were not the way I wanted them to be, I had a choice of how I could respond. I could have chosen to distract myself from the problem and pretend it wasn’t there as I did many times. Or I could have devoted my time and effort to changing the thing I was unhappy with.

This could have meant registering for some training that could improve my chances at getting a new job. It could have meant going to the gym instead of playing video games. Or it could mean having a meaningful conversation with my wife after the kids are in bed, rather than turning on the TV and distracting ourselves from the issues in our relationship.

Looking back on my own life, I can see now that the greatest changes I have made were those times when I decided to stop distracting myself from the reality that I did not like and instead I focused my time and energy on changing it. There are three examples that I would like to share with you:

1) When I finally decided to make a dramatic change in my career, I stopped distracting myself with video games and started taking business courses in my spare time.

2) When I finally realized that what was preventing me from having the level of health and fitness that I wanted was the time I was spending drinking beer while watching other people play sports on TV, and I decided to prioritize my own exercise over watching other people do theirs.

3) When I realized that my relationship with my wife was not doing well and we were spending our only one-on-one time watching Netflix. I decided to stop distracting myself from reality and chose to give up watching TV almost entirely to focus on reconnecting with my wife.

Although this lesson wasn’t taught to me by a coach or mentor, if I had heard it earlier in my life it would have saved me a lot of suffering. I want to leave you with this: If there is an area of your life that you are unhappy with, then stop distracting yourself and get to work on changing it!

If it is your job that you can’t stand, then start applying for new ones or take some training that will open new doors for you. If it is your body that you are unhappy with, then instead of reaching for a beer to drown your sorrows, have a cup of tea while you make a plan to start exercising regularly and eating healthier. If your relationships with those closest to you are not where they need to be, then instead of turning on the TV and watching other people live their lives, start living yours! Go have that conversation that you’ve needed to have with your spouse.

When you stop distracting yourself from reality, and instead start to focus your time and energy on the areas of your life that you wish were different, you transform your life for the better. Stop distracting yourself from reality! Stop distracting yourself from your own life! --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now, I ask you dear reader: what have you been distracting yourself from? What area of your life could be totally transformed if you put your focus and energy there?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this post and if you know of anyone in your life who could benefit from reading this, I encourage you to share it with them.

And finally, if you know of any young guys who could benefit from working with a Life Coach who has been through many of the same struggles that they have, I encourage you to get them in touch with me for a free one-hour coaching session that could transform their life. e-mail:

Follow me on Facebook:

70 views0 comments
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram


©2019 by Tom Lahdenranta Coaching. Proudly created with