Economies of Attention

May 24, 2017

Time and money; both are finite resources.  

But what about your attention?  You only have so much of that to spend per day as well.


You can only soak up so much information at any given time, on any given day.  With everything just a click away and the constant bombardment of advertising and opinion – whats next?  Watching a paid ad before viewing a snap on SnapChat? – how do you make sense of it all?  Most importantly, how do you prioritize where to spend your precious time and attention?


Microeconomics suggests:

1.   Each person has a finite amount of resources.

2.  Logically, you should aim to use these resources in such a way to maximize your gain.

3.  Unfortunately, humans are not always the most rational of creatures.  

It’s almost like you need to enact a plan so you can consciously maximize gains.  


What a revolutionary thought!


Microeconomics talks in regards to money.  In this case I am talking about your ability to selectively process information.


Microeconomics of thought..

It works in a similar way to the cliche ‘you are the sum of the 5 people you associate with the most’.  I am aware this horse has been beaten to death time and again, proverbially speaking.  But its because its true.

The company you keep influences your beliefs, characteristics and actions.


For example, if you’re skinny and you hangout with a bunch of jacked guys you will most likely get into shape.




Because if you want to hang out with these guys you’re going to have to spend some time doing what they do.  Working out, playing sports, eating well and so on.  Humans are social creatures, in order to be accepted we conform.  It’s just our nature.  


Just as you must be conscious with whom you associate, you must be conscious with what you give your attention to.  You create a reality for yourself based on what type of information you consume.  This is externally and internally speaking.  Choosing to listen to negative thoughts over positive thoughts in your head does have a proven physical and mental effect on you.

You’ve got to be careful.   It’s almost artful in selecting where you give your attention.  You want to keep an open mind to learn new things and modify false beliefs, but you need to know where to remain skeptical and which mediums to ignore altogether.


Where should you put your attention?…


To start, look to give your attention to people whom you admire because they are successful in the way you want to be.  If you want to be a shredded beast with 5% body fat, listen to people who live that way all year round.  Workshops, blogs, books, podcasts, vlogs, whatever.  Look for people who have walked the walk.  Want to be financially free and have time to live life as you please?  Meticulously study someone who’s done it.


Anyone who can read has the means to succeed” – Victor Pride


The unfortunate thing about life, is that there is so much to try and do but we only have a finite amount of time.


Let’s back up a second.  In this instance and in many other cases, it all comes back to your life path.  What do you want for yourself in this life.  When you have a definitive idea for what you do and don’t want for yourself, you can start to tailor which channels of life you subscribe to and which you pass by.


Conflicting pulls of attention..

This ain’t always easy, by the way.  I enjoy staying out all night on wild debaucherous adventures.  But I also really enjoy starting the day early feeling better than the day before with the intention to go to bed at night better than I woke up.  Two very different activities, one finite reserve of time, attention, and energy.


I could go all in on the party and have a night to remember, and get nothing done the next day.  I could stay in, work on my writing and study, and then wake up refreshed the next day to do even more and maybe go for a hike or hit the gym.  Or I could try and do both and get less of an experience in each case.


Similar to this example above, I could spend my time traveling and reading/writing about travel or I could spend my time studying, working and earning money in finance. I also have the option of trying to do both.  But no doubt spinning my tires a little more on each subject.


Do you want to be remembered as the person who knows a bit about a lot, or a lot about a select subject?


Personally, this is a theory I struggle with.  It’s generally accepted someone who niches down and narrows in on one skill can find the most success.  But I like some variety in my life experience.  I am working on narrowing down my focus of attention.  


Bottom line…


The farther along this path you go, the more you realize you will have to give up.


It’s less about what in particular you choose to pursue and give your attention to, and more about the fact you’re dedicating yourself to something.  You have purpose.  I would be willing to give a certain amount of my time and attention to anyone who has enough ambition and taken action to set out on a purposeful path of their own.  But at the end of the day, I want to spend more of my time and attention on someone who can directly help me grow in the direction I’ve chosen.


So we want to spend the most time with people directly involved in our area of focus, next we want to remain open to other people and sources of information that are beneficial to growth, and then there are the mediums that are destructive.


It’s one, or the other..

I believe when you get down to the very basic, there are really only 2 sets of people: people who are actively designing their lives and making a conscious decision to grow and evolve, and people who are just going through the motions.  And engaging in self-destructing activities.


Then there is the subject of information sources; some are informational and educational, others are entertaining and some just pure brain rot.


Give less of your time and energy to people or mediums who are adding no positive impact to you, or especially, are destructive to your progress.  They can only transfer fear and doubt.

Engage those with like minds, mediums that provide constructive information to your path, and tune out the noise.


 Time and energy are some of your most valued assets, don’t waste them.


All the best in your continued success,


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  • Currently located in China, teaching English and working towards Financial Freedom. I write about money, travel, personal development and more!

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