Chicago finally woke up to a beautiful sunny day today! Just when I was ready to say it's going to snow until June, a glimpse of Spring appears. I won't be packing up my winter jacket just yet though; you never know what Mother Nature has in store for us.
I start talking about the weather and you think, what in the world does this have to do with success ? Is Liz just making small talk? I guess a little, because it was on the top of my mind this morning when I could finally see rays of sunlight peering through my windows. More importantly, I want to bring up the concept of living in the moment and letting go of the things we can't control and the impact this release can have on our success.
Now, what does slowing down actually mean? Most Americans, no matter where we are and what we do for a living, sit down and watch TV at some point during the evening. But is watching a mindless television show actually slowing down our brains and allowing us to reflect on our days? Probably not; in the short term, it definitely relaxes our minds and takes the attention off of the stresses we've endured during the day, but over time these thoughts go unprocessed and build up into confusion and anxiety. Now I'm not saying don't watch TV (I love my Bravo TV time) , but I am saying that it may be helpful to have another relaxation outlet that complements your TV time.
Many articles in the "The Third Metric" talk about mindfulness and connecting with the inner voice within ALL of us. Unfortunately, the Kardashians and the Real Housewives can not find this voice for us! We must make the effort to check-in and connect with ourselves. I write about a few mind calming techniques in a past entry called, Let's Calm Our Brains that may be helpful. We must ask ourselves the questions: How am I feeling today? What made me angry? What made me sad? Did I really stop to feel anything today, or did I just coast through? Is my only accomplishment that I was able to make it through today without face-planting on the sidewalk, or did I feel a sense of happiness, gratitude, or accomplishment when I finished a task? Did someone tell me good job? Or did they tell me that I can do better? I had a bad day, what can I focus on tomorrow so that I don't feel like I do at the end of the day today?
Ok. You get it. I could go on forever giving examples of questions to ask ourselves in order to "check in," and there are a variety of things that may be going through your minds right now (and this list definitely is not exhaustive):
- I naturally do this all day and I know that I am truly living in the moment; I feel free to say what is on my mind at home and in the workplace and I know that at times I am happy, anxious, sad, or stressed, and I am aware of the events that triggered these emotions.
- Others may be thinking, hmm, I never really ask myself questions. Maybe I should try and build a few check-ins into my day, because at the end of the day I'm exhausted, anxious, have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, face dietary/digestive issues, headaches, etc...
- And then there are those that are saying, I don't ask myself questions, but I'm fine with I am where I am in life, my career, etc... and I don't see a need to "check-in." It honestly sounds stupid.
A few years ago, I realized I had fallen into the # 2 category and was well aware that this was neither a healthy nor fulfilling way to live. Decisions were almost always difficult to make, my "gut instinct" was always cloudy, and I was lacking the confidence in myself that I knew I wanted. This insecurity was impacting my life in a variety of ways; I knew there were things I needed to better understand about myself and I had a desire to change. I knew I wanted to be in the #1 category.
I started to read an abundance of articles on the Post, talked to a therapist, read several interesting books, set my Linkedin "Influencers" to people that encourage mindfulness as a key to success (i.e. Dan Goleman, Richard Branson, Ariana Huffington, Deepak Chopra to name a few) and started using my own life as my research project. I wanted to figure out what success meant to me and how I could really feel that satisfaction.
I started making a conscious effort to slow down - I made sure to check in with my feelings throughout the day; writing and talking about my past also became a priority for me. I started with my childhood memories, wrote year by year, pieced stories together, wrote down what I felt during certain life events, recalled happy and sad times, and overall summarized my life into a Word document. I also made sure I was eating well and exercising, and over time, I started becoming more aware of my own intuition and began making more mindful decisions. I also started sleeping better. The golden recipe of quality sleep + mindful decision-making allowed me to begin recognizing what truly mattered to me and how grateful I was for my life, my body and my mind.
Once you know what truly, deeply matters to you, and you figure out how to weave these priorities into your day, gratitude for what you do have becomes overwhelming and the focus on the things you can't control starts to vanish. Letting go opens so much space in your heart and mind for things that truly matter to you, and leads to accomplishments that make you feel successful. This process takes time, patience, and focus on your thoughts and feelings, but I promise, the investment will be rewarding. Gaining a greater understanding of yourself, what people and events shaped you, and accepting all of the things about your life that you might not love, allows you to let go and focus on the things that truly bring out the best in you and allow you to define and achieve YOUR OWN version of success.
What is success to you? Please share what it is and how you figured it out? We all live in a busy, distracting world. Do you have any tips or tricks for staying focused on what matters most to you and keeps you happy and feeling successful? Please share!