I’m looking out over a misty sea, the waves rolling in on a new year. It’s time, they say, to obsess about New Year’s Resolutions and what I’ll pay attention to in the new year! Now, this is my question today: How do I make sure that when I “pay” my attention, I make a good “investment”?
While I sit here with a lingering mind, breathing fresh air and with nothing that I have to do today, I have the freedom to think: “Why do I choose to focus my attention on the soothing sound of the waves and the security it gives in the predictability of the future? Why do I opt not to first consider the mist and what it may be hiding, the potential dangers that may be ahead?”
Well, I’m on holiday, so it’s easy to focus on what is relaxing and joyful! What if my situation was different, like when the year is in full swing and I’m in the midst of having to get things done? What will I choose to focus on then? What will get my attention?
So, I’ll make it easy for myself and set just one important goal as a New Year’s Resolution:
“I’ll be conscious about my choice of what gets my attention! Every day, every hour, my attention will be well invested!”
In science “attention” is called “psychic energy”, which makes it clear that it is a limited resource. Think for instance of driving your car, but you only have one tank-full for the whole trip. You can only cover a limited distance and you’ll have to choose where to go. If you are not conscious of this limitation, you won’t set your priorities and plan to get to the important places first.
The same applies to attention. You have “one tank” of attention and if you are not conscious of how you spend it, you’ll run out of energy before you reach your destination – before you achieved your goals.
Is this not perhaps why we so often do not get things done, or why we constantly complain that we do not have enough time: It is not limited time that is the problem; it’s our choices of where we focus our attention!
Research into the brain has shown that we in fact have a rather big amount of attention to spend – your brain can process 173 billion bits of information in your life-time, should you live to 75 and sleep for 8 hours a day. That many billions are too big a figure for my brain to get around, but it is still limited. Let’s say you lived in Iran, and you had a bank balance of 173 billion Iranian Real when you were born, you would have about the equivalent of US$ 18 000 per month to spend. Would you not be spending your dollars with care if this was the case?
The same with your attention… You have a limited amount of attention, so make conscious choices on how you spend it:
When you pay your attention, be sure to make a good investment.
Carefully invest your attention and it will pay off in a richer life!