Advisors and Distractions

“He who bestows all of his time on his own needs, who plans out every day as if it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the morrow”
- Seneca, On the shortness of life

Part of the work I have been doing lately revolves around the above quote. I have spent some time documenting my priorities.  What is it I want in my life at the moment? I tried to keep it simple, so in no paticular order:

  • Time with my family
  • My Doctorate
  • Proper Health
  • There are a few work goals I have

As I extend this thought further, I asked myself what I actually have complete control over achieving from my list. The answer, was a very small amount.
Each of these items are NOT 100% in my control. In order:

Family

There are a variety of things that could impact time with family. Each of them has their own responsibilities as they grow and travel through life. I cannot
control all of those things, and I am not interested in micromanaging their lives (and I'm sure each of them is equally disinterested in that too!)

Doctorate

I can certainly control how much time I spend working towards on the doctorate, but the final decision isn't up to me. I have a lot of work I can be doing, but the decision
will fall to the doctorate committee, and even the work along the way is heavily influenced by my advisor.

Health

This topic has been in the front of my mind lately. I have had a lot of minor health issues over the last few months. When I consider what I could have done to provent
them, the answer is a very clear "nothing". I can do a lot of preventative things in my life to help, but genetics play a strong part in the health process. The best I can
do is eat right, exercise, try to avoid stress, etc. Those do not guarentee success, but they do improve my chances

Work Goals

This one in many ways falls into a similar vein as my Doctorate. I know what I want to achieve, but the results themselves are not up to me. The complexities of organizations and the third parties I work with have a lot of say in my ability to achieve these goals. As is becoming the common theme, I do not control the results,
only the journey.

So, what does this all have to do with distractions? As I gain a clarity in what I want to do, I can track the time I spend focused on these activitiies. During my morning journaling, I can reflect on how I spent the previous day and ask if it was something that allowed me to progress in achieving the above goals. Many times I can answer yes, but other times I find that I have wandered away from those goals. Perhaps it was to spend a few hours playing video games, but at first glance that does not fit into any of the above "buckets", and thus is a distraction. This causes those internal advisors to go into a frenzy, they want to solve his problem or perhaps justify my actions.


At some point I then have to step in, and remind myself that it is ok. I cannot change the past and it is important to take some time to just relax. There is a line of "too much" that each of us has, but taking time to find joy in an act for myself is not such a bad thing. The three hours of video games does not put any of the above goals at risk. Throughout the rest of that day, I still went for a walk, did a couple hours of work for school, and while I was sitting there playing games I was talking to my kids.

As I continue down this train of thought, those advisors voices tend to quiet down. So often through this process of reflection I am reminded about the general "noise" in my head often amplified by my ADHD brain of mine that can amplify those noises to a dull "buzz" that can drive me crazy. But that noise is just that, its noise. It is about so many things I don't have control over. More importantly it is about things that I can't gain control over either. No one is going to fault me for 3 hours of games, 40 hours of work, and another 30 hours of exercise and school work. This is just me allowing the noise to get out of hand in the Throne of my mind. It is my own perception getting out of hand, confusing the wants of others with the wants of my own. My goals at this point in time are those 4 items above. The things I can do to achieve those are an even smaller subset of items. Distractions for me arise due to a misunderstanding of that scope of control. As I grow throughout the process those goals may change, but they are still MINE, not someone elses and will drive me forward to take the next steps. That is where my focus needs to remain and my time needs to be spent. Its all of that other "stuff" that is the real distraction.