29 days already into the New Year. 29 days!! 696 hours have already transpired since 2016 ushered itself in during the midst of College Football Bowl season, and it forces us to consider, “How productively have I used the last 29 days of this month?”
The beauty of time that we all know is that once it is gone, it never returns. And so, we are left with either this sense of anxiety and despair, or renewed sensation that each hour of every day may hold within it the next pivotal moment to the rest of your life.
With this underlying understanding that life is incredibly short that I have attempted to live furiously fast. What opportunities may exist in this day before me? What potential lies within this new interaction? What hope can I cling to that will drive me forward to risk a great reward? Where can I serve? How can I grow? In what ways can greatness be made in the next 24 hours?
In the midst of this childlike passion for experience, rigor, and productivity, there is a tempering voice that whispers conversely, “And yet, life is long. Swim deep…many times.” Intuitively, this all makes sense, and yet sits in an odd place of complexity within one’s heart, mind, and spirit. The days can seem long, the hours at times grueling, and the grind…well, is a grind. And it is through this arduous process that true excellence begins to develop in our thought patterns, our relationships, and our connectivity with the world around us. We cannot be swept away so quickly by the passion in our hearts that we miss the essence of growing roots in places that matter most.
So how as humans do we cultivate this intricate balance of productivity and peace? To slow dance in the fast lane of life, ensuring that we not only optimize our time here, but actually enjoy the ride?
Research shows that we can actually stimulate both ways of thinking and acting through meditation and/or intentional mindset conditioning. Below are a few simple ways in which you as a leader, coach, or athlete can increase your sense of presence while optimizing your productivity:
- 3×3+1. This is a technique adapted from the US Military. Whenever you think about it throughout your day, quickly identify 3 things you see, 3 things you hear, 3 things you feel (externally or internally), and 1 thing of excellence. This brings you right into the present moment, and helps condition your brain to look for excellence in this world versus the negativity that often plagues us.
- Smile! Smiling actually changes the hormonal responses occurring in your body and begins a cognitive shift that not only affects you, but also impacts those around you. This small burst of positivity can help you think you think more creatively and stimulate an upward spiral of your entire mood and functionality.
- Savor Moments, Experiences, and Interactions. Literally, as you engage in your daily life take a moment to look around you and soak up the details of the experience. This will help you remember more vividly the details of that exact moment in your life and bring with it a sense of joy, peace, and fulfillment.
- Daily Objective. On Sundays, write down one “big goal” for every day of the week. If you get nothing else done each day, what task would move you one step closer to a larger goal on your list? This strategy will also help give you a sense of satisfaction on days when you may not be as productive as you hoped; if all else fails, at least your daily objective got accomplished and you know it moved you closer to ultimate mission.
- Start the Day with a Win. As simple as it sounds, make your bed! And tell yourself, that you’re starting the day with a W. Habits of excellence are developed in the details of our lives, and waking up with an intent to “Win the Day” can start as soon as your feet hit the floor.
- Jump Start Tomorrow. Before you leave work for the day, close your computer at night, or wrap up your workout, put one ball in motion for tomorrow that will already be rolling when you dive in for the day.