Every year, I swear off talk radio. I vow not to allow myself to get sucked into the latest political scandal or “expert” opinion on radio, television, or even online. But it’s not easy, as there are more than 1,300 different radio stations in the U.S. dedicated to news and opinion alone (according to newsgeneration.com) and countless TV and online media sources vying for your attention with scandalous headlines and dramatic images.

Resisting that urge to tune in takes intention and a plan. Because if I’m not intentional about what I am listening to, I will listen to something else by default. And the default ends up being the not-so-uplifting news. I suspect that is your default, too.

In fact, according to a Nielson.com report, Americans spent approximately 11.3 billion more minutes per week consuming news in 2016 than they did in 2015.

More than 11 billion more minutes of terrorist and nuclear threats, right wing versus left wing spats, protest marches, and dreary economic predictions. These are all events we have no control over, yet we allow them to control us and the way we think. And when we let these outside influences dictate our decision-making, we tend to make bad decisions about our future.

In 2008 and 2009, when the economy tanked and businesses small and large were going under, many doctors said that they were going to “wait until things got better” before they decided to invest in their practices. They anxiously waited and watched the market, predictions, and expert opinions. During that same time, I told my clients to keep their heads down and “stay in their bubble.” That meant to focus only on things they can control.

Don’t be influenced by what’s going on around them. Don’t bury their profits in a hole in the ground, and stop whining. And guess what? Those who did, killed it. They experienced growth and productivity, while those around them who decided to “wait it out” lost valuable, profitable years they will never get back. 2017 is no different.

Two-economy system

Let me explain the “bubble” concept. We call it the two-economy system. There is your economy; the one inside your bubble — things you have complete control over and can change. These include your thinking, your calendar, your family, financial spending, your vision, your attitude, investing in yourself and your team, and so on.

Then there is the economy outside your bubble. In this economy you have no control over things such as elections, government regulations, political debates, terrorism, stock markets, and war. But it is in this economy where we tend to place our focus. And it’s easy to do. Heck, every time you turn on your TV you see images of chaos and discord. And to the degree that we allow chaos to filter into our lives is the same degree that we allow chaos in our practice — if you turn the TV on.

But if you focus on only the things you have control over — your team, your marketing, your patient list, your money, resources, time, and the way you think about and implement systems — you can actually make some significant changes (read: progress) and impact the lives in your inner circle. It is then that you will realize how little the outside economy really affects you.

Despite today’s political turmoil, protests, and uncertainty, your business can still thrive. Regardless of your political position, now is the time, just like in 2008-2009 when the economic sky was falling. But you have to be able to tune out the nonsense and get on with the business of growing your practice. You need to create a plan to stay in your bubble. And turning off the news is a great way to start.

So get in your bubble, and get your head in the game of building your practice despite what’s going on outside of it. Create a system to block out what you don’t have control over, and replace that distraction with wisdom. When I’m tuning in or logging on, I’m listening to people who will help me grow as a husband, father, business owner, and coach. I’m soaking in the wisdom of real experts about things I can control. You should, too.