Mar 18, 2011

Attention Please!

attention distraction photo

If you are to give one second to every single human being on this planet, it would cost you more than 220 earth years! And since most of us will probably live less than half of this time, it’s important to consciously decide what is attention worthy and what’s not.
So how do you decide what’s worth of your attention and what isn’t?

If you don’t make a conscious choice here, your attention will be pulled towards something by default, and it’s usually something bad for you. Or, someone else will make the choice for you; it could be your boss, an advertiser, or anyone in your society, either way it won’t be something of your deliberate choosing.

Hence, to live consciously, you must be the one to clarify and decide what matters most for you, and then you must discipline yourself to focus your attention on those items by deliberately withdrawing your attention from lesser concerns

Here are some criteria to consider when choosing your attention-worthy items:

1. Consequences
What are the consequences of giving an item your attention vs. withdrawing your attention?

If there is little to no difference either way, it’s fair enough to say that the item isn’t worth of your attention.

Attention-worthy tasks show a pattern of having impactful consequences if you focus on them, like waking up early or exercising daily. Giving them your attention makes a very noticeable difference. If, however, you squander your attention on unworthy items, your results will be either negligible or negative.

2. Control
In addition to consequences, also consider the degree of control you have over a particular concern.

If by giving your attention to a certain item, you have the ability to influence it in a meaningful way, then it’s more attention-worthy than an item that you cannot influence much.

If you give your attention to items you can’t control, you're essentially wasting your time. It’s more intelligent to focus on what you can control and influence. Then your influence will expand over time, and your power will increase.

3. Opportunity Cost
The attention-worthiness of any particular concern is related to other items you could be choosing instead.

Whenever you give your attention to one concern, it means you're withdrawing it from all other concerns. This entails a hidden cost of the potential value of the items you’ve declined to pursue.

In the end, if you want to, you can give your attention to anything you desire. If you want to focus on your family you can do that. If you want to give some attention to politics, a book, or your girlfriend, you can do that too. As long as you are the one who makes the choice.

But remember, attention is a very limited resource. You don’t have an infinite attention capacity. You can only give you attention to one item, or at most, a few items, at a time. You should see attention as a precious resource. Something you invest carefully and thoughtfully. You don’t have much of it to spread around, so don’t let it go to waste.

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