In a world consumed with constant distractions and multitasking, it seems like we’re becoming more like bumblebees—paying short visits to one flower after another. We’ve never faced “incoming data” like this before, and it’s affecting our attention spans, stress levels, and ultimately, our productivity.
With the world of politics feeling incredibly polarized, the news cycle (with lots of alarmist stories!) going 24/7, and social media at the very tips of our fingers, life feels distracting, overwhelming, and at times, suffocating. How do we stay focused and working toward our goals?
How can we help our children navigate this noisy world where they’re being pulled in so many directions? How can we help them understand what they should pay attention to and what things should probably just be ignored?
In my years of evaluating leaders, I’ve come to appreciate what virtually all of them have in common:
- Vision: They have an overarching idea of where they want to go, the person they want to become, the impact they would like to have in this world, and the life they want to live. This focus on the future allows them to “drown out the noise” so to speak, and focus on moving forward.
- Intentionality: a commitment to setting goals and plans to turn their vision into a reality. Goals that are challenging but realistic, specific, and measurable. They choose not to waste time on activities that do not bring them closer to their goals.
- Relentless Effort: They are self-motivated and focused like laser beams to achieve their goals and implement their plans. They don’t just work hard—they work smart. They have high standards and manage their time effectively and efficiently. And, they regularly review whether they’re on track and make midcourse corrections along the way.
- Resilience: They have the ability to overcome and learn from their mistakes, shortcomings, and failures. They don’t let disappointments defeat them; rather, they face their challenges head-on and persevere. After making a mistake or experiencing hardship, they get back up and try again.
With a new school year upon us, this is a great opportunity to teach your children and students how to ignore the constant “noise” from the outside world and apply these concepts in their lives. Arguably, this could be their most important learning lesson of the year!
So, whether you’re a parent, teacher, mentor, or coach, have the children under your influence set new goals and strategies for the coming year. Encourage them to develop at least one goal in each of the following categories:
- Career: surveying career matches, attending job fairs, creating a resume, sharpening interview skills, meeting people in careers of interest, etc.
- Education: improving a GPA, taking valuable courses, reading specific books, watching/listening to media-based programs/trainings, etc.
- Character: developing strengths, addressing weaknesses, modeling qualities/soft skills of admired people, etc.
- Relationships: improving existing relationships, building new ones (peer, network), etc.
- Skill: learning a new skill for personal growth, fun, creativity, etc.
- Service: volunteering time and talent to support your community
- Experience: checking off a “bucket list” item or two
The more we can instill the value of setting goals, plans, and strategies for life in our children at an early age, the better positioned they will be to achieve success, fulfillment, joy, and impact. Otherwise, especially in this day and age, they’ll be destined for distraction and random outcomes. It may be a mind-shift for them, but they and their dreams are worth it!
And, trust me, one day they’ll thank you for it!
Dennis Trittin is the author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead and Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. Through his books, blog, and nationwide speaking engagements, Dennis prepares students for life success and equips parents and educators in their vital training role. You can find him here on Facebook.