Can Your Attention Span Compete With A Goldfish?

How to get back on track with the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year.

Goldfish on head

- by strategist and NLP certified coach, Susan Sly | 5 mins 6 secs read

I understand that your time is valuable so let’s get right to the point – we are halfway through 2017 and my question is this – are you where you want to be based on the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?  Some of you may be crushing your goals, others may have some progress, and finally, according to statistics provided by Go Banking, with data collected from 5000 individuals, 92% of you are completely off track, so much so that you have likely given up.

This statistic is much referenced in this blog because it illustrates very clearly that Paretto’s principle is no longer at work; we are not 80/20, we are now less than 90/10.  This graph illustrates that the top 10% of the world’s population hold 85% of the world’s wealth .  Quite obviously if you are to be in the top 10% then you will have to develop the fortitude and determination of those in this rarefied space; in other words, regardless of where you are with your goals, it is likely time to re-focus and become more disciplined however you are going to have to conquer one key thing if you are to get back on track, and that thing is you.

The average person’s attention span is now 8 seconds and dropping, according to a study done by Microsoft ; astoundingly less than a goldfish and a 25% drop since mobile devices became common place in 2000.  If goldfish can focus on something longer than we can, is it any wonder that it is so commonplace to give up on goals? Whether your January goal was to get healthy, make more money, or become more organized, you are not likely to achieve it if you cannot maintain focus.

We live in a society of instant gratification where we no longer need to sit through commercials because we can skip past, we can rapidly scroll Instagram and share our ‘true feelings’ with a simple one-click emoji, and if we are really feeling attentive and type a three letter acronym to illustrate just how much this person’s post means to us.  As I travel, I see parents placating their toddler’s by handing them their phones, people becoming agitated at the smallest inconvenience, and criticism and judgment in place of compassion if someone else is having a bad day.

Achieving any goal requires dedicated focus.  As someone who was once overweight, broke, and living on my brother-in-law’s sofa, I can attest that the focus to self-destruct is equal to the focus required to achieve.  No one gains 100 pounds overnight.  No one loses their fortune in a second, even as a stock market investor I can attest that it is a series of bad moves that leads to a massive drop.  Savvy investors have their portfolios hedged and thus may drop but not lose everything.

As someone who trains on productivity, I meet many capable people who simply lack focus.  Focus can be achieved by anyone and it requires old-fashion discipline to resist the distractions that lead to sabotaging one’s goals.  Regardless of where you are at this point in the year, the good news is that it is possible to make up for lost time, get back on track, and finish the year strong.

1. Re-Visit Your Goal

We often give up on our goals because we tell ourselves that it is too hard or not important.  Trust me – if you are 50 pounds overweight, it is still important and a lot less hard than keeping that weight on.  Take some quiet time and journal on why your goal is still important and then find a friend, or family member, and share, in transparency, why you are re-committing.

2. Hire a Coach

coachingA good coach can provide perspective and help you create a strategy to achieve your goal.  Coaches can additionally provide accountability.  When seeking to hire a coach, look at their experience in the area of your objectives, ask questions so you know what to expect, and make sure you feel good about the relationship.  As an aside, I do coach select individuals by application.

3. Create a Schedule That Aligns With Your Goal

I believe that all goals are attainable however people are often unrealistic with their time.  You must dedicate time to the achievement of your goals.  For example, if you goal is to lose weight, schedule time for exercise and meal preparation.  If you want to make more money then schedule time for pursuing that goal.  If you want to be more organized then take a look at where you are wasting time and use that time instead to become more organized.  Time, like money, yields an investment that is either aligned with our goals or moving us away from them.

4. Read Books on Focus

Woman Reading_300Several of my favorite books on this topic include, The Power of Focus by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Les Hewitt, The One Thing by Jay Kellar, Essentialism by Greg McKeown, and of course, my book – Organize Your Life.  I want to add a note here – interestingly, many books on focus are written by men, ladies, I will be absolutely direct here – include some books by female authors as there is a different perspective.  Many of the focus books I have read talk about spending dedicated periods of time with kids and yet, parenting is 24/7 and not something you put to the side because you are writing a best-seller or leaving on a speaking engagement.  There, I said ‘it’!

5. Create an Anchor

In NLP, we talk about anchors.  Anchors simply are triggers which create an emotion, a memory, or a call to action which is either positive or negative.  You can easily create your own anchor by using the following method:

  1. Carve out 15 minutes or more.
  2. Go somewhere quiet where you will not be interrupted.
  3. Close your eyes and visualize your goal. Be as multi-sensory as possible – include sights, sounds, feelings, smells, and any other tangibles.
  4. Now visualize the actions required to achieve that goal. If you know you need to exercise then see yourself doing it.  If you know you need to make sales calls then see that.  Include all activities that will get you to your goal.
  5. Now hold both images in your mind – looking from left to right at each of them – the goal and the activities. Keeping your eyes closed, swish from each image as quickly as you can until they become one image.
  6. Breathe that new image in knowing that you have shifted your subconscious to embracing the activities required to achieve the goal.

You deserve to finish this year strong and take comfort in knowing that life is about progress and not perfection.  Finishing the year ahead of where you were last year is still a win. Make a decision to become more focused, at least more focused than a goldfish.

susan sly work-life balance expert and speaker Susan Sly is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, certified NLP practitioner, coach, and trauma recovery specialist.  Susan specializes in helping people become more productive so they can lead ridiculously fulfilling lives.  She is the mother of five and has been working in human potential for over two decades.


OYL Sales AcademyWould You Like to Work with Susan?

Susan’s class – OYL Sales Academy begins on September 12th.  In this course, Susan will teach you how to become more adept at selling using NLP (neuro linguistic programming) techniques and create more certainty in the selling process.  This class is already over 50% sold out.  This is the last time, Susan will teach this course live and you will want to participate to benefit from the energizing atmosphere that comes from live coaching, interaction, and accountability.

Register today.

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