You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.
Winston S. Churchill
In the early days of SatNav, or GPS as it is sometimes called, it was quite common for the evening news to feature photographs or video of the latest driver to get stuck somewhere really stupid.
The problem here was not that the drivers concerned were any more stupid than anyone else, but that they gave too much attention and trust to the electronic voice that was offering them guidance. The outcome of this failure to focus, forgetting to give due attention to their surroundings, was that awareness that they were sending themselves on a journey to nowhere failed to materialise until it was too late.
Their attention and focus was so mislead by the feeling of security provided by a mechanical voice, that they forgot to keep an eye on the bigger picture – where they were going – and this failing to focus on what was important meant that they gave away control over their own destiny. So they ended up stuck in a place they had not intended to be.
This is something that we all tend to do on a daily basis.
Like drivers who get fooled by their technology, we live much of our lives on autopilot. The minutes and hours pass us by without our active involvement in the choices we need to make about how we live our day to day lives.
When we do this we give away our sense of agency. We live reactively, losing the chance to creatively lead the lives we want.
When we choose to vary our attention between the big picture and the finer details we can make clear choices about where we wish to direct our focus. When we do so we can begin to live with intent, to make deliberate choices about what we will do, and equally important make choices about the things we won’t do.
Creating the life we want is about prioritising what we will not do in order to make room for the things that we want to do.
This requires that we ask ourselves questions about our lives.
- Why am I doing this?
- What do I gain from this?
- What do I lose by doing this?
- Does it fit within my self image?
- Does this make it more or less likely that I will be happier?
We can then add value to our lives by making deliberate decisions to act in the ways that will help to bring us the lives we want.