The story of my life. “You are where HE intended you to be. But often, where HE wants you is a place many others don’t think you should go. And when you are in HIS place, the blessings will flow in abundance.”
Isaac Addae, circa 2014
I always find it amusing when I randomly come across pieces of paper on which I’ve jotted notes about future goals. These random moments may not actually be all that random though. They tend to occur at times when I’m confused about the direction my life is heading. It’s during those times when I question every aspect of my existence.
However, when I read the note where I’ve written my goals, the picture becomes clear again. As if a future version of my self (that has already achieved everything I intend to do) appears out of no where with my future already scripted out. That person on paper seems so amazing to me, and I can’t wait to meet him. I know this might sound crazy, but hey, I’m just being honest.
If there’s any lesson to take from my ramblings, it’s this. During a rare moment of clarity, jot notes about what you want your future to be. Then stick those notes in the most obscure places. You’ll thank yourself later when you become frustrated with the path you’re on, and one of those notes pops up and reminds you of your purpose. Stay focused, don’t quit, set goals.
I’ve always known that my interests are vast and varied. Sometimes I even amaze myself in terms of the diverse knowledge that I possess, and my ability to focus on many different things. But what I’m now beginning to understand is the importance of being focused on fewer things. Whenever I see something that catches my eye, I tend to jump in with both feed to learn more about it, or get engaged in some way. However, if I continue this trend, it will prove to be problematic in the future.
Lately, I’ve been forcing myself to eliminate things from the forefront of my mind, and concentrate on the most important things in front of me. Given my belief in divine intervention, I always look at situations and circumstances as purpose-driven occurrences. Whether through a new network connection, or through the discovery of an interesting topic, I always feel that these occurrences happen for a reason. In the past I viewed these occurrences as things I needed to pursue, for one reason or another. As I’ve gotten older and taken on more responsibilities, I now consider these random occurrences as distractions. I view their purpose as motivation to hone my ability to focus, essentially teaching me how to resist Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS).
Not to be confused with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), SOS is less of a cognitive disorder, and more of an innate inclination to get distracted by ideas. I believe a link exists between SOS and the presence of an entrepreneurial mindset. Entrepreneurs, from the Kirznerian perspective, are considered to be alert individuals that are always scanning their environment for potential opportunities. Entrepreneurially-alert individuals are constantly evaluating environmental cues, in search of the next business opportunity, and can easily suffer from SOS. However, you don’t have to be a business owner to have an entrepreneurial mindset, as this perspective can be applied to all aspects of life. However, the fact that you do think entrepreneurially means that you may be likely to suffer from SOS.
I recently read an article on Addicted to Success that offered some useful tips for overcoming the effects of SOS. While the article is focused specifically on business ownership, I believe these four tips can be applied by anyone fighting the “shiny object” urge. Check out the tips below, and let me know what methods you implement to overcome SOS.
- Step 1: Create a running list of all your ideas
- Step 2: Pause before you start anything
- Step 3: View your new ideas through the lens of your long-term goal(s)
- Step 4: Don’t make crucial business decisions every day
I came across these powerful words on Facebook the other day, and thought it would be worthwhile to share. I’ve always been focused on living life in a way that fulfills my purpose, while also engaging in things that I’m passionate about. It may not always be possible to connect your vocation to your passion, but I believe that this is a goal we should all strive for. Achieving this goal may require you to make difficult changes, and you may not always have the support of the people in your inner circle. But sometimes you have to trust in yourself, and make a leap of faith. Once you get to a place where your passion is directly connected to how you make a living, you’ll never want to go back.
When I was a kid I would always ask my father numerous questions about why things were the way they were. “Why did you do that?” “Where are you going?” Why did you name me Isaac?” The list of questions was endless as I had, and still have, an insanely inquisitive mind. Despite the seriousness in my voice when asking questions, my father would always jokingly reply, “Because ‘y’ has a long tail!” We would both laugh hysterically and my question would go unanswered. I guess this was his way of temporarily quelling my thirst for knowledge. As an adult I still wonder about various things as if I were a child all over again and pose questions to myself. Instead of getting my father’s canned response, I often answer my own question by stating “That’s just the way it is.” Just as in my childhood, I’ve never been satisfied with this response.
It’s funny how we as people can live our lives following traditional paths. As children, most of us were taught to pursue education and eventually a career. Being the well-behaved children we were, we pushed hard through high school and college to land the treasured JOB. Well, I can’t speak for everyone but that’s what I did, largely without questioning. There are many people that took non-traditional routes to achieve their dreams. Some of them succeeded, but many more are as lost as they were the day they began their life pursuit. Those who ventured down the road less trodden were deemed risk-takers by the masses.
Now that it’s my turn to be a parent, I intend to teach my son to be very inquisitive, and question everything. As annoying as it may be for me, I want him to realize that the path others have defined for him doesn’t have the be the path he chooses to follow. Instead of blindly focusing on goals others set for you, the better approach would be to ask why and then focus on determining the path you should follow. Adhering to my parent’s advice led me down that path where I could achieve success. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have been successful by going against the grain and blazing my own trail.