In coaching, we sometimes talk about our lives in the process. That is, our lives are constantly flowing forward over and around the highs and lows of our everyday experiences, like a river. As humans we often try to minimize those ups and downs: We plan for the future, we dwell on the past and thus avoid experiencing the emotion at this present moment. As a result, we dampen our aliveness and sort of zone out. No wonder we suddenly “wake up” to realize minutes, even days or weeks, have passed us by!
Have you ever had the experience of driving a car only to find yourself suddenly at your destination? Where were you the entire drive? Not present, that’s for sure! But really, what does it mean to be present in your day-to-day life?
It’s quite challenging to focus all your attention on this moment. Try it: As you are reading these words, slow down. Experience the action of reading one word at a time. What sounds do you hear in the room around you? How comfortable are you? How are you breathing? Recognize that you are alive, right now, in this moment. What was that like for you?
Here’s another experiment. Go ahead and laugh but try this anyway. It may give you a whole new way to be in the moment: As you go through your day, ask yourself: Where’s my butt? On a chair? Against a wall? Walking past the consignment shop on Main Street? Crazy as it sounds; it is very difficult not to be present when you’re trying to figure out where your rump is!
OK! Now you’ve tried rump-awareness and have probably heard all kinds of other advice for becoming present in the moment – breathing, mindfulness, meditation, and so forth. Now broaden the concept: how can you stay present and focused on a project or goal in your life? Select a theme.
Here’s how it works: As an example, my theme for my business this year is “fun and inspired action.” This theme serves as a filter. Each month, I review my business goals through the lens of my theme and prioritize those that will be the most fun and give me and my clients the most inspiration. Brainstorming projects to undertake, I look for those that best match my theme. My theme gives me a sense of exploration when choosing new opportunities: last week alone, I was on a radio show and was a guest lecturer at the University of Maryland. These are experiences I wouldn’t have imagined for myself in the past, but they came my way, fit the criteria, and were so FUN!
A client of mine has a theme for the month in regard to his job search: Action! Driven by action, he’s got some aggressive goals for landing job interviews. In every step he takes he asks himself, “does this forward my action toward my goals?” You should see the guy – he’s on fire!
Therefore, what is YOUR theme? It’s time for you to wake up and be on fire too!