There is so much going on around us nowadays especially in the United States that it is easy to do nothing except follow each event and spend your days discussing them with all and sundry; Covid-19 related lockdowns and resulting recession, the Black Lives Matter movement, Curfews, California Fires, Hurricanes Marco and Laura, upcoming Presidential elections…the list is endless. As pertinent as the discussion around each of these topics may be, there is a limit to which an individual’s influence on world affairs whilst remaining committed to your own life.
This is what I was talking to a friend about when she suggested that perhaps my next thought-piece should discuss this topic. Admittedly, I liked the idea but I didn’t really know what I had to say on the topic. Sure, I’ve managed to maintain focus but how does that translate on paper? After two to three weeks of almost watching myself as a spectator and ruminating on the topic, I recognized that there are three themes critical to this process.
Let’s explore what these are:
Every effort towards being disciplined and focused will be for naught if one does not have any priorities. By priorities, I do not mean the contents of your task or goals list and chores. A priority in this context would be something bigger than everyday tasks, almost something you would put on a vision board. The accomplishment of this would elevate your person to an exalted vision you hold within yourself. For example; fluently speaking a new language, mastering an art form, adding a tangible proficiency to your work resume…..you get the gist.
Write down the list however long or short. To prevent mundane tasks from slipping into this list tell yourself that machines have task expertise, people have a purpose and you are a thoroughly capable human with bigger ambitions than simple to-do lists. Display this list on your desk, organizer, planner, wherever, just make sure you can see it at all times. You want your list to feel as real as your first cup of coffee every morning.
Tune Out the Noise
Once you have identified a tangible list that you need to turn your attention to, relentlessly tune out the noise. What qualifies as noise? Anything you have limited or no control over. Examples include, every piece of news the media is obsessing over, every statement made by a politician, celebrity etc. Things like these can easily grab our attention and hold it for long periods of time thereby making us give away time we could be using productively for ourselves. All content is created to catch your attention, to maintain focus on your priorities is your job.
To effectively implement this razor-like focus, think of all these arresting elements as either within or outside your sphere of influence. If you feel strongly about anything that grabs your attention, assess whether you have full or limited control over the situation then pick the most suitable course of action, and move forward with that. If it is outside your sphere of influence and not on your priority list, do not even spare a second thought towards it.
Commit to Your Priorities and Yourself
It would not be an exaggeration to say that to remain steadfast in the accomplishment of something, one has to be obsessed with it. Hold a vision of how you will feel when you have achieved what you set out to do and work towards that accomplished version of yourself.
Committing to your priorities also includes committing to yourself. Balance your diet, schedule, exercise and most importantly sleep routine to ensure maximum productivity. Figure out whether you are someone who does best with a fixed routine or a fluid one, accept whichever works for you and don’t allow self-doubt to get in the way.
I leave you with this thought: the only reason you would struggle to maintain perspective is if you do not have a vision for yourself that is grander than your person today. A bigger and better version of yourself that is aspirational even to you; that is what one has to hold and strive towards. Figure out what that is, tune out the noise and commit unswervingly to it. I wish you all the luck.