Stars on the beach: A moment of focus

Two candles.

Two candles.

My wife and I took a trip to Hilton Head a few weeks ago. We got to the resort late, but decided to take a stroll around and check it out anyway. We walked out to the beach. 

It was pitch black. 

A clear and moonless night. We could barely find our way down the path. (Hilton Head significantly restricts night lighting to protect sea turtles.) We stumbled down the path with our pitifully inadequate iPhone "flashlights."

We reached the beach and turned our flashlights off. Looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, the stars were brighter than I've ever seen in my life. Stunningly beautiful. It was remarkable how much more vibrant the stars were without the distraction of the light from the ground or moonlight.

But as beautiful as the stars were, you couldn’t do anything else but enjoy the night sky. You could hear the waves, but couldn’t see the water. It would have been very challenging to find our way back to the resort without our iPhone flashlights. We almost fell a couple of times looking for the path back.


As I reflect on my Advent Resolution, “focus” keeps coming up. How do I focus on the important things and cut back on the distractions? But it’s not as easy as that.

Just like on the beach. When you hit that moment of maximum focus… When you are completely locked in on the stars in front of you… You can’t easily do the other things in life that you need to do. 

So while I have goals and objectives for 2016, I’ve got to figure out how to focus without losing sight of the other important things in my life.

I need to figure out how to focus, while still maintaining balance. I think one of the easiest ways to find focus is to minimize the main cause of distraction in my life: My iPhone.

I’m going to experiment with a couple of different things this week:

  1. Changing how and when I use my phone. I’m going to try to minimize my phone use during the day in attempt to focus on the task at hand. That means that I’ll be on social media a lot less, which I also think is a good thing.
  2. Set time to handle emails and administrative tasks. I’m going to try and block some time in the morning, after lunch and at the end of the day for email. And ignore it for the rest of the day. My hope is that I’ll be more focused and effective at the task at hand. We’ll see how it goes. All notifications are off.
  3. No phone use when the kids are around. I want to have time to focus on spending time with them. No Twitter, no Facebook, no random games, no surfing. The only exceptions I’ll make is for things like entering food items into Lose It, taking a picture or adding something to the shopping list. I tried this the other night and it worked well, but I can’t tell you how many times I reached for the phone.

My hope is that these things will allow me to focus on the task in front of me and enjoy the moment of focus. I’ll try it this week and see if it's something I want to adopt for 2016.

I'm writing about my Advent Resolution. Read the background here.