Distinguishing an Opportunity from a Distraction in Disguise

Yesterday, I received an excellent comment to one of my posts. The question is relevant to all of us but mostly to the first time entrepreneurs.

“Could you elaborate more on how following the opportunities that appear and following each of them is in line with not getting distracted?”

“As an example in the last 2 months there were many different opportunities I could have taken, but doing so would have lead to loss of focus and in the end most likely would have lead to not getting anywhere.”

by Kevin Raetz

This is a topic that I have addressed in the past, but it’s so important that I have to elaborate again, using the ideas that I published recently.

Before I dive into the topic, let me recap my last two posts so that you have a context for this post.

From an Idea to Reality

My previous post is based on two observations that I made over years.

  • We are more capable than we believe we are.
  • The universe is more abundant than we believe it is.

If we let go of our distractions and limiting beliefs, and focus on our goals by visualizing them, then we will become more sensitive to ideas and opportunities that will help us realize our vision.

Effortless Success

The post Effortless Success is a summary of the book The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer. Singer was a college student who practiced mindfulness and yoga to quiet the chatter in his mind.

He merely followed the opportunities that appeared on his way and ended up as the founder and CEO of a billion-dollar software company.

Effortless Success is even more impressive than From an Idea to Reality because it shows that even our goals reflect our limiting beliefs.

Even our goals are a part of our limiting belief system.

If Singer had to come up with a set of goals when he was a college student, I’m sure he wouldn’t come up with the goal of becoming the CEO of a billion-dollar company.

We all have our worries and desires, and they limit us. We’re better off letting them go as explained in this post.

Mental Clarity

In both posts, I mention higher sensitivity to opportunities. When you have a clear mind, you recognize opportunities easier. They almost appear in front of you.

But how do you know an opportunity serves your goals, and it isn’t a distraction in disguise?

There are several answers to that question on different levels. Let me start with the intellectual level.

Resource Allocation

We, humans, are capable beings and the universe is abundant, but that doesn’t mean we have infinite resources.

Resource allocation is a critical part of your execution as an entrepreneur, even as a person. The scarcest resource is our time. Therefore, time management is crucial to all of us.

When you come across an opportunity, you have to ask yourself a question.

How does this opportunity fit into my big picture? How does it serve my vision, my long-term goals?

If it doesn’t, it’s obviously not an opportunity but a distraction in disguise.

If your vision is to become an entrepreneur, and you receive a better job offer, is that offer an opportunity or a distraction?

Sure, some jobs might lead to a business opportunity, but most don’t. This is something you have to evaluate and decide.

Low-Hanging Fruits vs. Lifetime Value

You might come across an opportunity that would provide you with quick cash. Does this opportunity serve your long-term vision? If not, it’s most probably a distraction. The only exception to that rule is that you actually need that cash to pay your basic needs.

Two months ago, I documented my usage of Steemit. I started to use it to evaluate it as an investment, but I quickly became addicted to it. After a month, I decided that it wasn’t worth investing my time or money, even though I started to make some quick cash using it.

Quitting Steemit was an easy decision. It didn’t serve my long-term writing goals. My lifetime vision was more valuable to me than the quick cash I’d make from Steemit.

The Challenge of Infinite Opportunities

As I have mentioned in a previous post, endless opportunities are indeed a challenge nowadays, especially for entrepreneurs.

The solution is similar to the low-hanging fruits. You need to have a crystal clear vision and evaluate whether an opportunity serves your vision or not.

If you look carefully, you’ll realize that most opportunities don’t serve your vision at all.

Experience

In some cases, it isn’t clear whether an opportunity serves your life goals or not. In those cases, you have to experiment.

At the beginning of my blogging journey, people would ask me whether I’d write a post for their publication or not. Back in the day, I’d accept those offers because the extra exposure seemed to be an opportunity to me.

After a few trials, I realized that those posts don’t bring any additional exposure at all. I’m better off investing that time in my regular posts in the Startup Publication.

In the last six months, I’ve written on a wide range of topics, writing, blogging, marketing, entrepreneurship, investing, cryptocurrencies, personal development, and life lessons.

My experience taught me to focus on personal development and life lessons. I wouldn’t be able to come to that conclusion if I didn’t experiment with all of those topics.

The 6 Months Rule

When you commit to an endeavor, stick to it for at least six months.

This is a rule I learned from the audio program The Ultimate Anti-Career Guide by Rick Jarrow.

I’d add another rule to the mix.

Don’t commit to more than two projects at a time.

Most of us have our day jobs. That’s already one big project. That means don’t commit to more than one side-project at a time. If you do, you’ll decrease your chances of success significantly on all of your commitments.

Pivoting

Quick and frequent pivoting is popular among startups. That’s obviously a violation of the 6 months rule. Do so only if you have a strong signal that your pivot will be a massive success.

I’d make another exception to the 6 months rule. If you’re just starting out, start 12 projects in 12 months. Try to complete each project within a month.

That would give you an enormous experience. And who knows one of those projects might end up becoming a home run.

After those 12 months, stick to the 6 months rule. Otherwise, you’ll risk ending up with an array of unfinished, failed projects.

Intuition

As you gain experience and let go of your internal and external distractions, you develop your intuition. When your intuition is at a high level, you don’t need to analyze on an intellectual level.

You instantly see what’s an opportunity and what’s a distraction. In other words, you reach the fourth level of learning, where you’re competent on an unconscious level.

That’s why cleaning up your mind as explained in the posts about effortless success and letting go is critical.

Conclusion

Even though some of us complain about lack of opportunities, an abundance of opportunities is a challenge for others.

Following every opportunity and trying to be everything to everyone produce mediocre results at best. To avoid that pitfall, we need to determine our vision first, and then evaluate each opportunity according to its contribution to our vision.

That requires some intellectual analysis and experience. Over time, we develop our intuition which helps us quickly evaluate opportunities.

Letting go of distractions, unnecessary thoughts, emotions, and habits also improve our intuition.

At a certain moment, we reach a point where we recognize opportunities instantly and reject distractions without thinking. That’s the state of the Zen mind where we operate in flow and succeed effortlessly.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.

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