They say life is what happens day to day on the way between other things.
And depending on the pace of those things, some of us might never really land.
On my way to the city the other morning, I looked around the train and noticed how many people around me seemed to “do busy”. Most of them frantically typing emails on their phone or tablet. One woman loudly speaking on the phone trying to coordinate family logistics on a day that seemed to already be falling apart. One man sitting next to his girlfriend rattling off a looong list of what needed to happen that week. In rush hour on a train to the city you might expect just this, but it really got me thinking.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that frantic email person is me. Most of the time though I listen to calm music and remind myself of how good life is most days. Not because I have more time than anyone else, but because I choose to.
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The tricky thing is that in life we need to balance being and doing when we want to create change. One without the other is pointless, but too much of both is not good either. There is a lot of talk around mindfulness these days, and as someone who always struggled with meditation and relaxation, I found my own take on it. You might find it useful too, so here are 4 key tips on that might help you land right now and find the space to look forward:
1. When my mind gets busy and the to-do list is growing, I take a moment and tune into the BIG vision. Sometimes all the small things clutter our mind and stress us out, but if we take a mental time out and tune into the long-term vision of what we are creating and working towards we allow space and presence. Even if the big goal far down the track can seem impossible and scary, it’s important to emotionally connect to it on a regular basis.
2. Do the brain dump. Get all the busy out of your head and onto a list (paper or computer does not matter). Group things together where possible and allocate time and space to when you’re going to do them. Also make sure to be really honest with yourself around what’s important and what really isn’t. Unless we call the shots, the clever (and at the same time not so clever) ego part of our brain will have us do overwhelm, stress and busy forever. Be aware that you decide where your time and energy is spent!
3. Give the mind space to just be. A somewhat organised mind sometimes finds it easier to relax, especially if specific things have already been scheduled or dealt with. Allow space and time for being relaxed and present. The best way for me is to remind myself that “I am” followed by nothing (I know, it sounds weird, but I swear it works!). If you’re too busy doing and rushing around, chances are that you’ll get physically and/or emotionally unwell AND that you miss out on your most creative ideas and opportunities because you did not allow yourself to stop. So give yourself time and space to land right now, even if it’s just for a moment.
4. Do a regular time and energy audit. On the note of point 2, it can be very helpful to sit down on a weekly/monthly basis and look back at your calendar or old ‘to do’ list. Where do you get to? Where did most of your time and/or energy go? Where those big things the most important/helpful/useful/meaningful for you and where you would like to be heading in life? You can’t delegate responsibility for your life to statements like “It just happened…” or “I had to…” or “He/she made me….”. Be clear on how you spend your life and if you’re not happy with the balance, then you need to change it by both being and doing differently.
The fundamental question is: “Does what you do now leave behind a trail you’re proud of?“. Change in life and career is directly determined by how present you are (being) and what you’re willing to do differently to create change (doing).
How do you stay present? Share with us in the comments.