Almost every situation we’re facing in our lives right now is unprecedented. We’re still in the midst of an ever-evolving pandemic, and the rules about what is and isn’t “safe” to do are ambiguous at best. On top of that, our society is experiencing one of the biggest racial inequality awakenings we’ve seen in a long time. Combine those issues with a crumbling job market, looming recession, and political turmoil, and you get a world in which thinking ahead is near impossible.
While it may seem like 2020 is a complete wash, I disagree. In fact, I think it’s a great opportunity for all of us to do something that our fast-paced society typically resists: being present. Because it’s hard to imagine what we’ll be doing in a few months, we’re forced to spend more time thinking about today, tomorrow, and maybe—maybe—the full week ahead. This shift in thinking is actually an essential habit for any kind of success or growth. No, you can’t predict the future, but focusing on “the here and now” connects you to yourself, which ultimately helps you make better decisions.
Here are five ways you can take advantage of being present to improve your life and your career.
1. Increase Your Self-Awareness
If you don’t know yourself, you might often look at your life and think, “How did I get here?”On the flip side, knowing who you are is a great secret weapon that equips you to take more strategic steps in your life and career.
To do this, you must dig into your past and recognize how you were shaped, what influences created your thoughts, mindset, and behavior, and how those things affect you today. This takes time and focus. (And while it’s not necessary, seeking out a professional to guide you in this journey can be incredibly helpful.) If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ways to become more self-aware:
- Journal regularly: Take some time each day to simply write down your thoughts. Don’t judge them, just see what comes up and what comes out onto the page. You might be surprised by what you learn.
- Spend time alone: I know this can be hard, especially if you’re quarantined with others (especially children!). But whether it’s taking a long shower or going for a walk outside, take time each day to just be with yourself—no music, no podcasts, just your thoughts.
- Ask others for feedback: There are some things friends, family members, and peers can see about you that you can’t. Ask them to share with you what they think is unique about you. Review their thoughts carefully, discard anything that doesn’t resonate (because their perception can be helpful but it’s not the rule), and use the feedback that resonates as a way to deepen your connection to yourself.
2. Commit To Being More Confident
When you don’t believe in yourself, you seek answers to everything from other people. You don’t trust yourself to make the best decision. Instead, you think someone else will know what the best way forward for you is. If this rings true for you, it’s time to start building your confidence muscle. Each time you feel unsure or insecure, listen to the messages you’re telling yourself. You’ll likely find that they’re not entirely accurate—that it’s just your own negative chatter going haywire. Replace it with reverse messaging and repeat it to yourself as often as you can. This practice will help you literally begin to rewire your brain.For example, instead of “I’m feeling stuck in my current job, and I don’t know how I’ll ever get out of it” you would say something like, “I have what it takes to create the success I want.”
3. Get Curious
We’re all being called to be more curious in the face of racial inequality. And that’s a good thing. When you’re more inquisitive—about anything in your life—you’re more open to new possibilities.More often than not, it’s easy to think that what’s worked for you before will work for you again. But during this time of exponential change, this definitely isn’t the case. Instead, look for ways to be curious about the assumptions you make or the choices you think are presented to you. What could you be doing differently, and how? Could you think outside of the box, try a new approach, or re-imagine everything you’ve ever done before? This exercise will help you stretch yourself when it comes to thinking through choices and possibilities. At the very least, you’ll have a newfound perspective on your traditional way of operating.
4. Manage Your Energy
There’s never been a time in which so many people have been working from home. While this transition has been a big adjustment, it has at least one major perk: It allows us (at least somewhat) to manage our energy and organize our time and activities around it. Take advantage of this. Notice when you’re most energized when your mind is the clearest. That is when you should make big decisions.
5. When In Doubt, Ask Yourself
When you’re stuck on a decision and you’ve already exhausted all your external sources of information and advice—the internet, your closest group of friends, your favorite colleague—it’s time to look inward. This is where your confidence muscle and your self-awareness will come into play. Because if you simply clear your mind and meditate or journal, you’ll find that the answer is often just beneath the surface. Listen to your gut. It will rarely lead you astray.
With these five strategies, you won’t have to rely on planning ahead so much. Instead, you’ll be able to make great decisions from a confident, self-aware, curious, energized, and thoughtful place.
By – Laura Garnett
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