Do you know what target fixation is? 

A person becomes so fixated on an object that they end up driving into it.

I heard a friend talking about it in connection to motorcycle riding. It is one of the most common reasons motorcyclists crash.

If the motorcyclist stares at a rock, they are more likely to hit the rock. 

Hit the rock? Yes. 

A motorcyclist uses miniscule body movements to steer their bike so it is easier for them to hit the rock.

It happens in autos also. This explains why people hit cars stopped on the side of the road or drift over into oncoming traffic. If their focus strays off the course of the car, the course of the car shifts to follow the focus of the driver. It also explains most rear-end collisions.

The best way to avoid the collision is to look past the distraction, to focus on looking where you want to go.

It is easy for us as humans to get target fixation.

We are the driver of ourselves and yet, we sometimes hit the object we were trying to avoid.

We make a plan, then when problems arise, we focus on the problem and it ends up consuming us as we lose focus of the goal.

Think of basketball (that is usually what I am doing). 

The goal is to get the ball through the hoop. Many times players focus on the ball and lose track of the hoop. 

What if every player on an NBA team went after the ball? It doesn’t happen. Each person has their zone, their assignment. Some are to go after the ball, some are to block, some are to shoot. When the team spreads out it is easier to get the ball around the court than to have each player run after the ball and fight each other for it. 

Who do you think knows instinctively where the hoop is?

Those running in a group after a ball or those in their zone?

Definitely the players in the zone.

Target fixation is a human phenomenon that can best be avoided by keeping the obstacle in the periphery, working to completely understand the problem before we “fix” it, and always having the goal in focus. 

Dr. Paul