Why paying attention is so important
• Paying attention identifies where we are
• Paying attention shows us where the goal is
• Paying attention is the enemy of distractions
Identifying where we are is the first step in setting a course towards the finish line. By focusing our attention on the goal we can easily ignore unnecessary distractions like water cooler conversations and Facebook updates. Paying attention is essential to winning.
The major benefits of paying attention
• Exposes problems and deficiencies
• Reveals opportunities
• Measures progress
As an older guy with a wife that loves to cook, I have been the benefactor of many wonderful meals. My bathroom scale hasn’t gone below 230 for a few years and diets don’t motivate me.
A listener of my podcast shared his success story of using an iPhone app to lose over 130 lbs. I doubted an app could really help me but decided to try it anyway. MyFitnessPal is a calorie counter that tells me I should eat less than 1,900 calories a day. I fail to reach that goal 9 out of 10 times. However, I still lost 10 lbs. in 2 months with very little sacrifice simply by tracking everything I consumed. How? I couldn’t tell you how much extra food I was shoving into my mouth before installing the app but once I started paying attention I was able to make better menu choices with lower calorie counts.
Guess what? Budgets work the same way. Pay attention to the numbers in your budget and you will likely spend less than if you didn’t pay attention at all.
Paying attention is more important than talent
Talent is overrated. We look at actresses, athletes, and Oprah and think God gave them more from the “skills” pile than we did. That just isn’t true. Racecar drivers, bodybuilders and even John Lee Dumas didn’t become great until they spent hours practicing, building muscle, and focusing on their goal.
Talent is nothing without attention. Even those with no talent are able to become successful. Can you say “Kardashians?” The only reason we know that name is because of all the attention the media is paying them and we waste our attention on the show.
We can all agree that water is refreshing, non-toxic, and life sustaining. It’s harmless in a motionless state. However, run water over your hands and you can wash away dirt. Place your thumb over the end of a garden hose and it turns into a small power-washer. Concentrate enough water into a very small stream under pressure and you can cut through steel.
The tortoise didn’t have racing talent; he just paid attention to the goal more than the hare. By focusing our attention we can achieve unbelievable things, even with little talent.
Paying attention is 2nd only to desire
• Desire is what feeds our spirit
• Desire gives us purpose
• Desire will keep someone from quitting
Desire draws us closer to who we truly want to be. It gives us purpose and a reason to become productive members of society.
Desire can also drive you to beat the odds. It caused Thomas Edison to continue working on the light bulb after thousands of failed attempts. It is what turned former prison inmate Nelson Mandela into the President of his country. It is what fueled Erik Bendl’s walk across the country with only a backpack, his dog Nice, and a 5-foot globe. Desire keeps us from quitting before we reach the finish line.
The cost of paying attention
For some people, it’s easy to set their mind to a task and not become distracted. I wish it were that easy for me. Paying attention takes a lot of mental energy and wears me out. That’s both a good and a bad thing. I’m usually exhausted after paying attention for some period of time but also energized by accomplishing some goal or making progress on a task.
Other costs of paying attention may include
• Shifting our priorities to make positive change
• Quitting certain things we are used to doing habitually
• Getting flack from friends and relatives who see us doing things differently
I believe paying attention is the most expensive daily activity that will also return the greatest dividends over time. Marathon runners and IronMan contestants train for months, sometimes years, in order to compete for a couple hours in one day. That’s dedication. That’s paying a price. That’s paying attention to what is important to you.
Paying attention can set you free
As a Financial Coach, I help people with their money problems. Too many people find themselves in soul-sucking debt and wonder how they got there. The answer is simple: They weren’t paying attention to their finances.
By focusing our attention on our spending habits and marrying purchases to values we can develop a plan to eliminate debt and save for our future. Debt steals our time and is expensive. Make the choice today: Talk to your spouse, get on a budget, and start to pay attention, not interest.