Attention Span of a Goldfish: The Trials and Tribulations of Losing Focus Easily

We all have our moments of thinking we’ve got something seriously wrong with us whenever we experience one of our small shortcomings. Or maybe that’s just me and I seriously do have something seriously wrong with me. Regardless, I’m already straying off my point, which is exactly the point of this post.

Recently, when I’ve been lacking interest in an activity that I really need to complete, I will simply leave it or do it to the minimum standard possible. During exam period for example, revision became the most difficult thing for me to do. I seemed unable to even force myself to do it, despite the fact it was a necessity. The repercussions of this will soon follow as results are released, but it’s crazy to think that I had absolutely no ability to push myself, even when a strict deadline presented itself.

When this sort of thing happens, it’s easy to beat yourself up about it. To be totally honest, I have beaten myself up about it already, and now I’m ready to analyse it. Three key points come to mind as reasons for this mindset:

  1. Stress
  2. Focus Elsewhere
  3. Lack of Passion

Firstly, stress hits us all in different ways. I hate the way it affects me. I either get angry and overbearing, or completely give up in the times of the worst stress. Fortunately, it takes a lot of stress to push me to these points initially, however once I’m there, it’s hard to get me away from it.

At this point, I can also only focus on an individual task for about 10 minutes before realising I either want to do something else or simply give up with the task at hand. The overwhelming nature of stress can have this effect on many people, and the only way I’ve found to overcome it is to take a moment, stop, reset my brain, and start again.

Having your focus elsewhere is the classic issue of every person on a Monday morning when they’re thinking about bed or anything other than work. The key problem with this, is that your focus tends to drift when you are doing something you are simply not interested in.

If you were loving what you were doing, you would happily stay focused on it, for example the ability to not take your eyes off the screen as Ricardo Vaz Te slams in the winner against Blackpool in the Playoff final (gets me every single time). This got me thinking.

Maybe, the degree I picked isn’t actually as good as I thought it would be. Maybe I’m not actually that interested in anything to do with university anymore and hence would rather focus on other things. OR maybe I need to stop watching the West Ham YouTube channel in an overly reminiscent way.

My focus has been drawn away again

Finally, a lack of passion for something will always mean your willingness to pay attention to it will waver. Passion is what drives each and every one of us every single day. We have different levels of passion for specific things, and our attention goes proportionally to each one of those things. They say that your career should be in something that you are passionate about. Honestly, I think the main reason for this is sanity.

Doing something you’re not passionate about for years on end is the reason that people hate going into work on a Monday and love leaving on a Friday. It’s definitely part of the reason I struggle to focus on my revision and even the lectures in the first place.

“At its basic form, if you genuinely celebrate Friday, you need to rethink your entire fucking game. You need to rethink life.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

So, as a final send off, if you are struggling with a similar lack of attention span on the things that are supposed to matter, try and find something within the activity to be passionate about, this will grab your focus which will relieve your stress. It is, for all intents and purposes, a self fulfilling prophecy. Just a shame it can be such a bitch to crack!!

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