Living Without Regret in the Age of Distraction
It took us over a century to realize the changes and impact that the Industrial Revolution was making on our lifestyle, culture, economy, and educational system.
Technology has changed all of that again, but this time it took less than a decade.
Today, if we need advice on a topic, it’s as close as posting a question to Facebook or Twitter. If we don’t know an answer, we can Google it. If we want something, we can buy it from our phones and have it delivered to our house. If we have a moment of down time, our social network timelines guarantee we never have to be bored. And we have the world’s catalog of movies, music, and books available to us from our living room.
Nobody in the history of anything has ever lived like this before. It’s fantastic. Also, it’s a little bit terrifying.
There aren’t any experts in these fields any more. We’re all guessing about what’s next for education, the economy, communication, media, our jobs, our art, and our families.
Diligence, focus, art, parenting, marriage, priorities, work culture, and time management have always been moving targets. How much more now that we’re always connected thanks to the internet that lives in our pocket?
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With time and focus being such precious commodities, it is all the more important to have a vision for our life and to run with it. Use it as a path for our creative work and as a guardrail for how we spend our time and energy.
So often I get this feeling that I can live however I want, in the moment, and over the long run everything will pan out for me. Something whispers to me that I needn’t worry about hard work, focus, planning, or diligence because one day my ship will come in and all the important things will just happen.
Alas, that is not how real life works. Those things don’t just happen all by themselves simply because I want them to. They happen through vision, planning, and a lot of hard work.
Benjamin Franklin wrote that “human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day.”
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The dreams of our heart will not come to be through magic or luck. They are forged little by little, day by day. The most meaningful things in our lives are produced from the ground up with much focus and diligence.
Too much attention on the big, long-term goals and we despise the little daily steps needed to make progress. But too much focus on the granular, and it can be easy to feel like the “urgent” things are most important.
How do you reconcile these two vantage points? How do you have an eye for the long-term while also focusing on what’s most important right now? Why is big-picture planning so important to helping us navigate the small successes and failures we have every day?
If you know what it is you’re moving toward, then you can slice that down into something small and actionable every day. You can define “important work” as something that moves the needle forward rather than something that is merely urgent in the moment.
Having a defined goal can help us to focus on actually accomplishing our idea and making it happen. As I wrote in my article about fighting to stay creative, a clear goal is a significant stimulator for creativity.
Looming, unanswered questions often lead to inaction and procrastination. We get frustrated at ambiguity and indecisiveness in the work place, why do we tolerate it in our own life as well? Overcoming this is often as simple as taking time to define an end goal and then taking the first step toward that goal.
Another significant stimulator for creativity is diligence. And diligence, well, it isn’t a personality type — diligence is a skill we learn.
Some of us had a good work ethic instilled in us by our parents, some of us have had to cultivate it on our own later in life. It is silly to think a creative person should live without routine, discipline, or accountability. Sitting around being idle while we wait for inspiration is a good way to get nothing done.
This, my friends, is why the Focus Course is so helpful. Half of the course — 20 days worth — is spent on the foundations of clarity and action. Where you define your goals and distill them to daily lifestyle practices. It will change your life to have a daily habit or two that contributes to your quality of life and that also move you forward in the things that matter.
The Focus Course doesn’t force or assume any methodology or system. Nor does it impose a particular schedule or routine. Rather, the course guides you through finding answers and clarity on your own. You also learn about and strengthen your own foundational character traits, such as personal integrity, creative imagination, self-efficacy, gratitude, and more.
You can live without regret in the age of distraction. You can change your attitudes and behaviors. You can raise your children in the midst of a Smartphone Generation. You can spend your time doing work that matters.
While The Focus Course will have the most impact the first time you go through it, it’s actually designed to be done once per year. It’s not something you consume once; something you graduate from and move on. Rather it’s meant to be a tool that you use over and over. That’s why you get lifetime access when you join.
As I said earlier in this article, diligence, focus, art, and entrepreneurship are all moving targets. You need a tool — a secret weapon as it were — to help you hit those targets and have fun in the process.
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