There have never been as many elements competing for our time and attention. Ringing phones and pinging apps bombard us with interruptions and information all day long, 7 days per week. Instant access to news and events also means we’re subjected to a variety of cliff hangers, doomsday scenarios and tales of human endeavour everywhere we look. And that’s before we get to Brexit. Whatever happens though, the show must go on.
It’s tempting to let the distractions and the noise derail our efforts and goals. Regardless of whether Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un become best buddies and irrespective of Russian meddling in fake news and electoral engineering, we must continue to plough our own furrow.
There will always be something. Whether it’s Brexit, the latest global computer virus, a general election or other scenario laden with personal ramifications, there will be more to follow. News, celebrity gossip and other sideshow distractions are a fact of life, now more than ever. And yet, global armageddon and obliteration aside, how much does it really matter today?
We must simply decide to focus on the things which we can control, and give other matters the attention they deserve, which for the most part, is very little. The key to success lies in consistency and focus. Interruption is the enemy of productivity, and this includes learning. Giving in to the noise factor simply hands over control of your destiny to something which is at best fleeting.
None of this is to suggest an insular way of life. In fact, far from it. I’m all for having interests, getting involved in local activities and spending time outdoors. It’s more a case of there’s a time for everything. Which means when we’re supposed to be working on our own development and self-betterment, that should be our sole focus at that time. When we’re done, we can go and do something else.
I often say to my students that success is about setting and sticking to priorities, which helps drive consistent focus and effort. For life itself is about options. If you have many options available to you, you’re in a much better spot than someone with few or none.
An analogy I once heard a parent give to their child was that if they got all the qualifications they could and chose to do a menial job, they had the choice to do so. However, if they underachieved and left school with nothing, their options would instantly become limited.
As we edge closer to the summer holidays, it’s worth taking stock. What are the goals and aspirations you have for yourself? Are they, and you, being best served by your true focus and attention? Or are they being diluted by the torrent of momentary distractions disguised as important news?
Almost all current events will be forgotten, in their current guise, in a very short time. Your hopes and dreams are with you forever. Which is why the show, your show, must go on.