I normally frame up my new year's resolutions with some fancy framework, throwing all sorts of complex ideas into the cauldron and hoping the potion at the end is at least a little bit drinkable. Meanwhile, roaming through my mental archives of 2021 has proven to be a treasure trove of lessons and learnings. At a glimpse: Having a stronger sense of self enabled me to more courageously explore new experiences, ideas, and people. Having the luxury of planning my life more spontaneously provided me countless opportunities to roam the world and experiment with my life liberally.
By all marks and metrics, 2021 was a smashing success. But if you know me, what I'm left with at the end of it all is my neverending appetite to test, to tinker, to travel, to texturize. I enter 2022 with a distinct taste on my tongue, one that has largely been neglected throughout this past crazy year of change.
If you haven't guessed it, the one thing that hasn't really been in place in my life is a practice of focus. I love the two different dictionary definitions because of the idea they both illustrate — attention.
Most literature on attention focuses on productivity and optimization. But I think the healthier way to embrace attention is to bring together observation with passion in all aspects of everyday living. This means both respecting time for sensory morning walks, where you tune into the sounds of the seagulls speeding overhead, gaze at the glistening skins of the multicoloured trees nearby, and breathe in the custom scents that waft subtly in your neighbourhood. This means ascribing just as much value to these activities as you would a 5-hour flow state session of writing, coding, building. This means rewatering and reflowering the seeds of relationships that may have been neglected for a little bit. Bringing attention to everything that matters to you.
From Jasmine Wang's lovely piece on attention, which I see as a plurality between a “yes and” mindset mixed with an intentional “no thanks” attitude:
“The art of attention requires, among other things, an openness to being moved and transformed, the development of language, and the resistance of algorithmic life."
Today's entry is my starting point into manifesting these increasing returns to attention, an unbounded continuous workshop if you will. Something more substantial is coming up soon — my Substack post provides the magnifying glass into the world of focus and develops precise language to illustrate why this practice is becoming so important to me. In some ways, focus means doubling down on what's worked in the past. In other ways, focus means ruthlessly cutting out the oxygen source for the myriad of distractions that bombard my mental and emotional space every single second. And yes, that means not feeling bad for saying 'no' as much as I say 'yes'.
In any case, a journey of focus is a new beginning that I can't wait to explore.
Until next time — FOCUS UP!