When my daughter was younger, like most parents of toddlers do, I often got frustrated with her ridiculously short attention span.
Having found a genuine fascination with the world around her, I was usually competing for attention with that kid with things like rocks, dried nail polish particles and chunks of hardened playdough stuck in the hallway carpet.
Try as I might to vary the prosody with which I delivered riveting statements such as “put on your shirt,” “hang up your towel,” and “it’s time to go now,” I lost the attention of my child every time to shiny objects. Every. Time.
I thought it was a phase—it wasn’t.
I thought she’d grow out of it—she hasn’t. I thought she “got it” from someone other than me—she didn’t.
Oh. Oops. How about that?
Fast forward a few years of reflection and introspection and, as it turns out, I get distracted by shiny objects too. They just look a little different.
My pretty little things, well, they look less like glitter and more like opportunities.
And, sometimes while I’m in the middle of experiencing one of them, I don’t exactly maintain focus on the present.
You see, I have about 999,999 things I would like to go, see, do and be in this lifetime, and since I don’t know exactly just how long that might actually be, I can all too easily find myself in a perpetual state of unfinished business as I bounce from one new and exciting thing to another.
However, and fortunately, we, as adults, have the capability to recognize, articulate and embrace our own shortcomings. Lucky us.
No really. It’s good. Hard work and difficult to stomach sometimes, but good.
So, while we proceed at warp speed to check every item off the list, moving in 10 directions at the same time, we may also choose to give ourselves frequent time-outs. Some quiet time, as it were, to help step back and see the picture portraying our current reality.
This space helps keep your feet on the ground and both headed in the same direction at the same time, for the the big puzzle pieces. The corner pieces are the keystones: the bill paying, purpose seeking, domesticated daily life tasks—those things that make the other 999,900 items possible—which demand a level of dedication different than those suggested by spontaneous acts of living.
Those things, however, are equally subjected to distraction as are the amusements. Making a new contact may lead to a new job. Taking a course or training may offer certifications that will enhance your career. Attending an event may open your eyes to a new possibility, interest, or connection to yourself, your community or your world.
There are just so many options, and so few days.
As such, and in an effort to rein yourself in and to keep those puzzle pieces intact (at least for the majority of the time), when faced with a new opportunity before you say yes, there are a few questions that can first be considered.
This process assists to avoid an impulsive reaction or engaging in emotional voting on things that have already been decided. It helps to not allow excitement, fear or discomfort to affect an intentional choice made while you were completely rational and operating from a grounded and centered place.
Before you collect the newest shiny object and call it your very own, consider the following:
1. Is it the forest or the trees?
Essentially, is it going to meet a short or long term (or both) goal? What are the immediate and future benefits and effects?
2. Who cares?
For whom does it create a direct and indirect effect? How will their, and your, life change as a result?
3. Service please.
Will it serve you? Will it assist you in being the best version of you possible? Is it really who you are?
4. Does it measure up?
Is it aligned with your core values and beliefs? Does it match your life’s purpose?
5. Are you bunting?
Is it an easy play? Are you half assing it? Are you operating from a scarcity, or abundance, mentality? Are you listening to your gut?
6. Is there a statute of limitations?
Is this going to be available later or is it it really a “once in a lifetime opportunity?”
7. Does it fit in a box?
How might it limit your life? What’s the impact on your lifestyle—your free time, your interests, your other work pursuits, your social time, your health and fitness?
8. Should You Say Yes to the Dress?
What will it look like if you say “yes?” Today, tomorrow, next week, next month, a year from now. What might your life’s puzzle resemble then?
9. How Many Strikes Make An Out?
What happens if you want to bail? How simple or complicated will it be to walk away from later?
10. Does It Have Your Name All Over It?
Is it just so “you?” Or, on the opposite it, does it terrify you? How do you really feel about that? Is it something with which you truly desire to be associated, or something you’d rather no be a part of your future or your legacy?
Ask yourself these questions and notice what you discover. Most likely the answer will be right there in front of you, just beyond the shiny objects resting to either side. Move gently, thoughtfully, and with great respect as you continue to move along, eyes focused clearly on your next step.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Michelle Sweezey
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Alex Grech/Flickr