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The Attention Struggle

Sep 13 2020 is a day I will not forget.  After Church, I had the opportunity to meet up with a friend and I lamented how I had a line up of deliverables which I was finding difficult to meet up with. I had a couple of online courses that I was taking in addition to work schedules and personal deadlines. I complained how I was seemingly lagging. I did not have it easy. My friend insisted I was not disciplined and committed to my course. He complained I was unserious and laid back. This got me thinking retrospectively. It was a huge blow I needed time to heal from.

To me, I had a perfect excuse. Work was having a toll on me. But then, I was also heavily distracted. My phone was my inseparable spouse. It was my way of unwinding and relieving stress. My way of adjusting to the serious mood but it was an indefatigable distraction. My attention span also dropped significantly. I was gradually feasting on entertainment over some bowls of purposeful living. I am not against having some moment of rest and fun but when all you do is fun, you might be heading towards danger.

Coincidentally, the same day, I read a post by the wisdom guru, John Obidi on the Opportunity Cost of Attention. I realized, I had been the prophet of my own predicament. I was the cause but I was seeking help elsewhere. Let me break it down, as he puts it. The Opportunity Cost of Attention means that setting your attention and energy on one thing takes away from your ability to nurture and focus on another. To better simplify it, once you focus on something, it becomes difficult to concentrate on other things. In economics, we say, opportunity cost of a thing is the forgone alternative.  So for instance, if as a man, you have two ladies, Lady A and B that you would love to marry and you choose to marry Lady A because she is curvy and beautiful. Your opportunity cost is Lady B that you didn’t marry. To an Economist, the sacrifice that you bore is the opportunity cost, . So if you choose to play games all day instead of completing your project. Your opportunity cost is the project you let go of. Somehow you lose something, whether you agree or disagree. 

In making decisions, it is important that you forget sentiments and think straight. Ask yourself. Is what I am presently enjoying strong enough to deliver my desired result? Am I willing to let go of the benefits of this project? Is my focus the expected focus or have I lost focus? If you are pleased with the decision you have made, say today, tomorrow, one week time or even five years time, then you are good to go. The truth is, there is distraction everywhere. With the pandemic, our phones have become a perfect venue to interact, to be lost, to live in and to feast. It is also a good learning platform with so many other benefits.It is both for good and evil. The onus is on you to be disciplined; to determine what you want to stick to.

In simple language, the times we are in calls for emotional agility. How best can you maximize your Opportunity Cost of Attention?
- Know your values
-  Set priorities
-  Have a holistic daily to-do list 
-  And be committed to achieving your goals.

Maybe you want to ask if I am done with my courses? Not yet but I have understood a better way to go about it. I still struggle one or two times but with the steps I mentioned above I have gone a long way.

Let your attention be driven by what is sustainable and not fleeting.

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Everyday Life

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