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I want my attention back

I want my attention back
fail safe

    A long time ago, I had most of my attention. I could spend it on work, on friends and family, on a sunset after a perfect day at a beautiful beach, on what I want to do, on myself. When it came time to produce an application, work with a client or take a class I could rest assured I had enough attention in the bank to cover it.

    Back in those pre-Internet days, I had control over my attention spending without even thinking about it. Yes, I’d watch a few shows (Miami Vice was great), but I could count who and what had dibs on my attention account easily.

    Then the Internet happened.

    It started oh so slowly – oh look, someone has sent me an email, cool! Then the World Wide Web and one page of What’s New on Netscape’s Home Page. I remember thinking in a very nice hotel in Sydney wouldn’t it be great if they had a “Web Site” and wouldn’t it be even better if people could post their opinions about hotels they had stayed in on the World Wide Web. Then things started to move faster.

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    And faster.

    And still faster.

    And now I whirl around, connecting via email, skype, twitter, blogging, social networks, IM, forums to more people than I can possibly remember. [one minute while I check email-done,where was I?] Getting more news about things I can possibly read – and more news about things I really care about than I can possibly read. [another email – sorry.]

    And when I actually have time to work, what is most of what I do now? I go find information on the net – ten, a hundred, ten thousand fire hoses of information all at my beck and call, all taking their little debit of my attention. So much so, I have to use a search engine to search my bookmarks for sites I have already found because I can’t remember them all, or find the one site I remember bookmarking amongst all the other bookmarked sites. More of my attention lost.

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    I could go on writing a paragraph on each of the ways my attention is being debited now, but just the nouns will do: email, voicemail, podcasts. Spam. 500 channel TV, 50,000 channel Internet TV, 50 million channel youtube and youtube wannabe TV. Spam. Utterly unimportant important updates, upgrades, notifications, security fixes, patches. Spam.

    My attention is being split, nibbled, multitasked, frittered away, seduced and outright stolen from me every day, all day long. Most of my time and most of my energy goes into making ten thousand decisions a day about what and who is going to get or not get my attention. The results?

    “Making choices led to reduced self-control (i.e., less physical stamina, task persistence in the face of failure, more procrastination, and less quality and quantity of arithmetic calculations)” Thats from a study by Dr. Kathleen Vohs at the University of Minnesota.

    Sound like anyone you know?

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    Want to know why “Web 2.0” apps are cool? Fewer decisions hurt your head less.

    At this point in my posts I like to write a few bullet point suggestions as to how to solve the problem I just talked about. No can do today. I don’t know what the solution is – only I had better put it at the top of my to do, agenda and Getting Things Done process.

    I do know this – constantly deciding over and over and over what now is going to get my attention is draining my productivity as surely as thousand little cuts would drain my blood. And it’s just as serious.

    And it’s not just me. Every single person I know offline and on, every blogger, every podcaster, every programmer, every manager, every executive is bleeding out there productivity through a thousand cuts of their attention. We laugh about it, joke about it, try a million productivity hacks and techniques and we are still bleeding out.

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    Back in the last century, there was this great black and white movie called Fail Safe. A six buck part in a roomsize computer burns out and a Strategic Air Command wing of bombers nuke Moscow. (Me bad, we’d say now). The U.S. President sees only one way to avert all out nuclear war – nuke New York to balance the scales. All because a little computer part burned out and sent a command out for those planes to fly past their fail safe point – their point of no return.

    We are so far past our fail safe point of attention it’s not even close to funny.

    Bob Walsh sells MasterList Professional, a Windows task management application and writes, codes, podcasts and blogs about different aspects of the digital lifestyle at ToDoOrElse, MyMicroISV and Clear Blogging. His second book, Clear Blogging, is now available at Amazon and elsewhere.

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    I want, I learn, I do, I get Getting Attention by doing a Good thing I want my attention back 5 ways to reclaim some of your attention. Surprise!

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    Last Updated on November 28, 2018

    Why Do I Have Bad Luck? 2 Simple Things to Change Your Destiny

    Why Do I Have Bad Luck? 2 Simple Things to Change Your Destiny

    Are you one of those people who are always suffering setbacks? Does little ever seem to go right for you? Do you sometimes feel that the universe is out to get you? Do you wonder:

    Why do I have bad luck? Is bad luck real?

    A couple of months ago, I met up with an old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen since last year. Over lunch, we talked about all kinds of things, including our careers, relationships and hobbies.

    My friend told me his job had become dull and uninteresting to him, and despite applying for promotion – he’d been turned down. His personal life wasn’t great either, as he told me that he’d recently separated from his long-term girlfriend.

    When I asked him why things had seemingly gone wrong at home and work, he paused for a moment, and then replied:

    “I’m having a run of bad luck.”

    I was surprised by his response as I’d never thought of him as someone who thought that luck controlled his life. He always appeared to be someone who knew what he wanted – and went after it with gusto.

    He told me he did believe in bad luck because of everything happened to me.

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    It was at this point, that I shared my opinion on luck and destiny:

    While chance events certainly occur, they are purely random in nature. In other words, good luck and bad luck don’t exist in the way that people believe. And more importantly, even if random negative events do come along, our perspective and reaction can turn them into positive things.

    Your luck is no worse—and no better—than anyone else’s. It just feels that way. Better still, there are two simple things you can do which will reverse your feelings of being unlucky and change your luck.

    1. Stop believing that what happens in life is out of your control.

    Stop believing that what happens in your life is down to the vagaries of luck, destiny, supernatural forces, malevolent other people, or anything else outside yourself.

    Psychologists call this “external locus of control.” It’s a kind of fatalism, where people believe that they can do little or nothing personally to change their lives.

    Because of this, they either merely hope for the best, focus on trying to change their luck by various kinds of superstition, or submit passively to whatever comes—while complaining that it doesn’t match their hopes.

    Most successful people take the opposite view. They have “internal locus of control.” They believe that what happens in their life is nearly all down to them; and that even when chance events occur, what is important is not the event itself, but how you respond to it.

    This makes them pro-active, engaged, ready to try new things, and keen to find the means to change whatever in their lives they don’t like.

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    They aren’t fatalistic and they don’t blame bad luck for what isn’t right in their world. They look for a way to make things better.

    Are they luckier than the others? Of course not.

    Luck is random—that’s what chance means—so they are just as likely to suffer setbacks as anyone else.

    What’s different is their response. When things go wrong, they quickly look for ways to put them right. They don’t whine, pity themselves, or complain about “bad luck.” They try to learn from what happened to avoid or correct it next time and get on with living their life as best they can. They have this Motivation Engine, which most people lack, to keep them going.

    No one is habitually luckier or unluckier than anyone else. It may seem so, over the short term (Random events often come in groups, just as random numbers often lie close together for several instances—which is why gamblers tend to see patterns where none exist).

    When you take a longer perspective, random chance is just . . . random. Yet those who feel that they are less lucky, typically pay far more attention to short-term instances of bad luck, convincing themselves of the correctness of their belief.

    Your locus of control isn’t genetic. You learned it somehow. If it isn’t working for you, change it.

    2. Remember that whatever you pay attention to grows in your mind.

    If you focus on what’s going wrong in your life—especially if you see it as “bad luck” you can do nothing about—it will seem blacker and more malevolent.

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    In a short time, you’ll become so convinced that everything is against you that you’ll notice more and more instances where this appears to be true. As a result, you will drown yourself in negative energy and almost certainly stop trying, convinced that nothing you can do will improve your prospects.

    Not long ago, a reader (I’ll call her Kelly) has shared with me about how frustrated she felt and how unlucky she was. Kelly’s an aspiring entrepreneur. She had been trying to find investors to invest in her project. It hadn’t been going well as she was always rejected by the potential investors. And at her most stressful time, her boyfriend broke up with her. And the day after her breakup, she missed an important opportunity to meet an interested investor. She was about to give up because she felt that she’d not be lucky enough to build her business successfully.

    It definitely wasn’t an easy time for her. She was stressful and tired. But it wasn’t bad luck that was playing the role.

    Fatalism feeds on itself until people become passive “victims” of life’s blows. The “losers” in life are those who are convinced they will fail before they start anything; sure that their “bad luck” will ruin any prospects of success.

    They rarely notice that the true reasons for their failure are ignorance, laziness, lack of skill, lack of forethought, or just plain foolishness—all of which they could do something to correct, if only they would stop blaming other people or “bad luck” for their personal deficiencies.

    Your attention is under your control. Send it where you want it to go. Starve the negative thoughts until they die.

    I explained to Kelly that to improve her fortune and have “good luck”, first decide that what happens is nearly always down to her; then try to focus on what works and what turns out well, not the bad stuff.

    Then Kelly tried to review her current situation objectively. She realized that she only needed a short break for herself — from work and her just broken-up relationship. She really needed some time to clear up her mind before moving on with her work and life. When she got her emotions settled down from her heartbreak, she started to work on improving her business’ selling points and looked for new investors that are more suitable.

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    A few months later, she told me that she finally found two investors who were really interested in her project and would like to work with her to grow the business. I was really glad that she could take back control of her destiny and achieved what she wanted.

    Your “fate” really does depend on the choices that you make. When random events happen, as they always will, do you choose to try to turn them to your advantage or just complain about them?

    What’s Next?

    Now that you’ve learned the 2 simple things you can do to take control of your fate and create your own luck. But this isn’t it! These simple techniques you’ve learned here are just part of the essential 7 Cornerstone Skills — a skillset that will give you the power to create permanent solutions to big problems in life — any problem in any area of your life!

    If you think you’re “suffering from bad luck”, you can really change things up and start life over with these 7 Cornerstone Skills. It may even be a lot easier than you thought:

    How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

    Thomas Jefferson is said to have used these words:

    “I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

    Your luck, in the end, is pretty much what you choose it to be.

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    Featured photo credit: LoboStudio Hamburg via unsplash.com

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