I went shopping the other day while my car was being serviced.
I decided to go into a home and craft type of store where I can get lost for more than an hour. I couldn’t believe my eyes; there were Christmas decorations lining the aisles.
“Christmas decorations in June!?” my disgusted inner voice shouted. Ridiculous!
As I stood in that store, frozen in place for more than a minute, I wondered when we started getting so ahead of ourselves. What ever happened to enjoying the season we’re in?
This, of course, made me think about my corporate clients and the workplace equivalent of “Christmas decorations in June.”
It occurred to me that many leaders I coach struggle with being present in the moment. The typical corporate environment supports—even rewards—futuristic thinking.
Don’t get me wrong: strategic planning serves a great purpose in guiding work, and I love a good plan. But the unspoken belief is that if you’re not thinking 8 steps ahead, someone else will, and you’ll be left behind. And, if you’re not the winner, you’re the loser.
It is super tempting to adopt a “what’s next?” mentality in this type of competitive environment. This perpetual focus on getting to the next win can have big negative implications on your engagement, stress levels, satisfaction, and work-life balance, not to mention its impact on those you lead.
The corporate equivalent of “Christmas in June” doesn’t always bear a neon sign. For some, it’s getting a raise that will better support their family or earning respect through a promotion. For others, it’s beating the competition to market with the newest product.
For high achievers, enjoying the present moment can be difficult. Feeling satisfied can seem lazy and complacent, and leaders often worry that others will think of them.
While hard work and future focus can help you achieve that next big goal, it can also mean that you’re not enjoying the journey. Too many leaders feel exhausted and get burned out because they feel this type of approach is non-negotiable if they want to succeed.
Your energy and awareness are your most powerful tools. Learning how to become more engaged in the present moment will not only enhance your performance, helping you reach your goals faster, but will also increase your overall satisfaction and happiness.
Three 5-Minute Habits to Build Mindfulness:
1. Set the tone for your day
Practicing meditation or deep breathing techniques is a great way to start your day before the frenetic pace of work begins. You set the tone for your day by intentionally choosing your first activities.I know, you want proof! Here are some of the many scientific benefits of meditation and deep breathing.
I teach my clients the “box breathing” technique to improve focus, reduce stress, re-energize between meetings, and even to help wind down in the evening. One of my favorite meditation apps is Buddhify, which offers meditations of varying topics and lengths right on your smartphone.
2. Harness your attention
Schedule “awareness check-ins” throughout the day. Set your alarm or have a colleague send you a message to remind you. When the alarm sounds, the idea is to stop what you’re doing and perform a quick mental and physical check-in.Ask yourself these questions:
- What emotions am I experiencing right now, in this moment?
- What am I feeling, physically, in my body?
- How is this helping me/holding me back?
- How well am I using my energy to accomplish this task?
- What would help me better focus my energy and attention?
You can also practice tuning into your other senses:
- Tune into the mechanical sounds in the room (computer running, printers, typing)
- Listen to the sounds of nature (birds, wind blowing, leaves rustling)
- Focus on certain parts of your body, like your feet on the ground, and work your way up to your head/face
3. Focus on what went well
It’s easy to forget about what went well in the midst of hectic days. What you focus on expands. Each day, take 5 minutes to reflect and write down something that you enjoyed about work, are proud of accomplishing, something that made you laugh, or that you’re grateful for today.
“What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.”