What Are You Missing? Focus
A Mandatory Trait
Welcome to the YouTopian Journey. Each week I will be sharing unique wisdom that can help you in the daily battles that we must all fight in the game of life. This week we discuss why focus is the rarest resource and one that is mandatory for success.
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Now onto the good stuff.
GRABBING AT EVERYTHING BUT HOLDING NOTHING
“The lonely one offers his hand too quickly to whomever he encounters.”-Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None
Throughout the history of our species, historians have given definitions to various eras. The bronze age, the dark age, the atomic age.
What will future generations refer our age as?
The information age?
The connected age?
In my opinion, I believe this to be the age of abundance.
It makes perfect sense. Abundance is everywhere. Stream it, swipe it, upload it, download it, consume it or summon it. Everything from bottomless mimosas to endless content is here for the taking.
And if we don’t want it, we can be sure that countless others will.
Never before in human history have we been surrounded by such abundance. We have a plethora of pleasures that are instantaneously available. This has led to countless specialists, super fans, gurus, and self-appointed experts to appear, pitching their wares, promoting their services, and prompting our actions. You see them on your newsfeeds, championing some cause or shilling some product or service. We are pulled in every imaginable direction. The ability to concentrate, to focus on something meaningful, goes out the window in the face of such abundance.
As the individual cannot suffer the idea of being alone nor face the fear of missing out, we begin to grab at everything and anything that may lead us to wealth, happiness, and prestige. If everyone else is doing it, then we must jump in. We cannot miss out on this opportunity. We cannot be left behind. It doesn’t matter if we understand it, or are drawn to it, or even have an opinion, we are going after what is right in front of our face. We are going to vibe with our newfound tribe. We are going to take whatever is there.
And what is there?
And this abundance doesn’t require much. It certainly doesn’t require hard work or the focus that is needed to stay on track and to keep walking one’s own path.
Because everything is at our fingertips, just waiting for us to make our mark, have a role, win our victory in the comments, and show that we played a part. To show to others that we are engaged, that we are doing something, anything to show that we matter. Even though what we are working on is far more meaningful and matters more than any single thing that may be trending online.
Because what is trending is ephemeral and far too many fall for the ephemeral instead of what is meaningful.
The ephemeral is here to rob us of our focus and cast us away in a sea of the trivial. Clubhouse, DAOs, Tik-Tok, Tulum, brunch, virtue signaling, mindfulness, avocado toast, NFTs, memes, cancel culture, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, WEB 3.0, artificial intelligence, Twitter, Karens, CrossFit, conspiracy theories, Squid Game, PlayStation, influencers, gluten-free, Zoom meetings, MMOs, the metaverse, hustle culture, ICOs, Instagram reels, startups, Facebook, and on and on.
What are we left with?
What is the end result of our grabbing?
What has any of this done to help us on our journey?
What do we have to show for blindly following the masses into the abundance of choices that make us content-rich but time-impoverished?
Nothing, especially nothing that is worthy.
“Abundance makes me poor.”-Ovid, The Metamorphoses.
This is the paradox of our age. We are adrift in a sea of abundance but are desperate to find an island of focus. Some location far off on the horizon where we can stake our claim, do our work, and be free of the distractions that plague us. This island of focus is becoming more and more rare.
In spite of this, we must not stop the search. We must mine for this rare resource, drilling down into ourselves, shielding us from the distractions that plague our lives.
It is only when we are focused, only when we stop grabbing at every fad and trend that comes across our desk, that we can continue doing our meaningful work on our own self chosen task. This is something that no one can deliver on but ourselves. No one will do it for us.
This is why the power of focus is so important. Focus allows us to avoid the distractions, the endless distractions and never-ending drama. Focus gives us the drive to accomplish our goals. Focus allows us to push past the lethargy and doubt that we will inevitably feel. While others gorge themselves on abundance, those who possess the power of focus can starve themselves of distraction and still be fully content.
We must find our focus and then protect it at all costs!
“The coordination of a man’s brain, body, heart, and soul, and their concentration on his work, normally precedes the choice and use of any tool, method, or equipment required for the work.”-Edward E. Purinton, Efficient Living.
FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS
“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”-Samuel Johnson
What must we do when the world is grabbing for our attention?
How do we fight the insidious and endless distractions that seek to invade and occupy our minds?
Where can we look to for solace in the face of such obstacles?
The answer is simple.
You must focus on what matters most to you.
We all have something inside of us, some unrealized goal, some unfinished business that is buried deep within. This cannot stay buried further. Time and energy are both limited. We must focus on this now while we still can!
But focus on what?
What do you have that matters the most to you?
This could be some distant goal or something immediate that you wish to achieve. It could be an impossible and even impractical dream. It could be a skill to learn and through practice, even master. It could be financial. It could be proving a point to not only your peers, but yourself. It could be as indomitable as the largest mountain or as far away as the moon. But you must focus all of your efforts upon it.
This is difficult to achieve.
However, you must achieve it!
This is why focus is so paramount.
It is a superpower!
Understand that focus is a mooring for the rocket ship that will carry you to your destination. Without it, you will be adrift on the open space of distraction and at the mercy of the universe. The mind begins to wander. It begins to doubt. It begins to dwell in unhappiness, hopelessness, the discontent and the darkness.
Before you know it, you will find yourself lost.
This is no destination for those who have goals to realize and a role to play in the world. This is the destination for the mediocre. This is the terminus for the terminal. Countless people ignoring the call and who spend their days lost in the sea of abundance. There they wait, oblivious to the clock. They shelter in place from the sandstorms, whose dust is composed of the sands of lost time. Some realize this and make an attempt at escape.
But the majority?
The majority are too comfortable to focus on the future which can only bring on difficulties. It is far more convenient and safer to remain in the present.
This is no destination for you.
You have something to achieve. You wouldn’t be reading this otherwise. You must look to the future. Look to what you are and imagine what you can become. Harness your focus on a goal that is worthy of you and soon you will find yourself not merely walking, but flying.
“It is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking to the future. And this is his salvation in the most difficult moments of his existence.”-Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
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THE POWER OF SAYING NO
“When we give someone our time, we actually give a portion of our life that we never take back.”-Alexander The Great
People are strange. They will protect the trivial as if their lives depended upon it, but will gladly give up their time, the one resource that is personally finite, without a second thought. They always think that they have an endless supply to offer.
And why not?
We exist in a world where we not only have multiple accounts to allow people to gain access to us, but everyone seems to command our attention. We don’t want to be rude nor do we want to miss out, so we give our time willingly to anyone and everything.
Strangers approach us on Linkedin and request virtual meetings. Acquaintances contact you out of the blue and want to pick your brain. Long lost friends reach out to you to vote in some online poll or fill out a survey. Business associates want to speak to you on “opportunities.”
After all, what do we have to lose?
Our time and our energy.
All of this adds up. There must be a filter.
You must be the filter.
We are quick to accept everything and anything that comes our way. We want to believe we are using every spare second productively, when in actuality, we are wasting much of our time on fool’s errands.
“The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.”-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The ability to decline things, to say no, is a waning power. Yet this does not mean it cannot and should not be cultivated. It is like any muscle in the body. If you fail to use and maintain this ability to say no, it will atrophy.
Begin to say no to things and you will realize how much time and drama you save.
Say no to emails from strangers that promise you “new opportunities.”
Say no to friends who want to invite you out to activities that serve no purpose and will only waste time.
Say no to easy money, because there is no such thing.
Say no to toxic people and toxic situations.
Say no to anything that robs you of your focus.
Say no to anything that isn’t meaningful to you.
Because when you are focused on something meaningful, something that could be game changing and lifechanging, you begin to value your time. You protect your time and harvest your energy, putting it toward something that matters. This changes you for the better.
Begin to decline invitations and offers that you know are nothing more than empty promises.
Begin to value your time as the priceless asset that it truly is.
Begin to pursue what is meaningful over what is expedient.
And in the catchphrase of my childhood…
“Just say no!”
“When I look back on my past and think how much time I wasted on nothing, how much time has been lost in futilities, errors, laziness, incapacity to live; how little I appreciated it, how many times I sinned against my heart and soul-then my heart bleeds. Life is a gift, life is happiness, every minute can be an eternity of happiness.”-Fyodor Dostoevsky
ASK ME ANYTHING
I will be doing an AMA (ask me anything) at Ladder. Ladder is the professional community platform for the next generation where you can grow your career alongside me and thousands of other students! Ask me a question on Ladder by 12/1 on anything such as YouTopian Journey, entrepreneurship, self-improvement, and more! You can sign up for free and ask your questions here.
CRAMP YOUR CRANIUM
I truly believe that the best advantage one can have in this world is to be armed with knowledge. The modern world is a mess and That’s Philosophical helps its readers become more mindful of their noisy lives. Get inspirational insights every week and allow your mind to relax! You can subscribe for free here.
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I’m Shaun Gold and if you are reading this, you are already on your journey. Catch you next week.