When I was growing up, I had a very difficult time staying focused. I have always said I have the attention span of a gnat! Sadly, it is still true to this day. The good news is that I am aware of it and am constantly working on it. Sometimes I have five or six ideas going on in my head at the same time. Rather than taking medication for my problem, I have simply tried to develop self-discipline and focus on one thought at a time.
However, having a very active mind has helped me in my speaking career. I am able to keep the interest of an audience by talking about several important ideas at the same time. I have always tried to do it in a way that makes sense and hopefully I am making some progress in that area.
One day when I was growing up, my mother had a fairly strong talk with me. She looked at me and said, “Your biggest problem is that you have your priorities mixed up.” I asked what she meant by that. She said, “You spend all of your time on things that do not matter and you do not spend any time on the things that do matter!” Even though it was painful at the time, her observation was insightful and, I have to admit, she was right. I was interested in whatever was going on that related to fun, sports, girls and cars. At the time I had very little interest in things like academics, financial investments, education, politics or spiritual issues.
I have come to see that one of the most important things a person can do is to straighten out his or her priorities. I have a 3 x 5 card on my desk that says, “Is what I am doing right now going to make any difference in my life or in the life of another person today or in eternity?” That has helped me to develop a more sobering, focused, eternal perspective on what I do with my time and life each day. I realize that there are some urgent, temporal issues that we all face that must be dealt with. After all, personal hygiene, paying bills, cutting the grass, washing the dishes and preparing meals, all take time. But, being able to focus on things that are eternal, like relationships, caring about other people, and showing concern and compassion in love towards those who are hurting are all just as important. I find that many times the things that scream loudest for my attention are the things that matter least. Those issues that are quiet and wait patiently for my attention are often the more important ones in my life.
I remember running the one hundred yard dash in high school. I enjoyed it because I was fast and because it was finished rather quickly. When I began to run longer distances, I had to learn to pace myself better. As I did that, I discovered what it meant to have a more long-term perspective rather than a quick, temporal one. The older I get, the more I see that life is not a sprint. It is a marathon and we all need to pace ourselves on a daily basis.
Take a look at your life and see what is occupying the majority of your time. You may need to make some adjustments in your priorities. I am grateful for a mother who helped me do that at a young age. It is still paying rich dividends to this very day. It will for you, too!
Tip: Keep your priorities straight!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm