How to “Play in the Present”
Now more than ever is a time when we should be focusing on the present. Being in the present moment allows so much more clarity in our lives, and will ultimately lead to so much more joy. When was the last time you slowed down, took a deep breath and found gratitude for something in the moment? If it has been awhile, my goal is to give you strategies to get there more often.
It is much harder than we realize to truly focus on the present and actually, well…be present. So today, I wanted to offer some insights on how to work on being more present and how this practice actually lowers stress and helps you feel much better.
First off, when we start to “drag on” about the past, or “get anxious” about the future we will tend to lose focus on the “right now.” One of the first things that increases stress in our lives is stressing about the past or the future.
I love this definition of stress with this amazing quote from Eckhart Tolle:
“Stress is the desire for things to be different than they are in this present moment.”
Read that line above one more time…let it really sink in.
Here are a few simple steps for lowering stress:
- Acceptance – Accept that what is going on around you is outside your control. Stress doesn’t come from events and circumstances; rather stress comes from our response or our resistance to those events and circumstances. Remember, it is not the events in our lives that define us, it is the meaning that we attach to the event that matters.
- Victim mentality – We are no longer a victim to the events going on in the world. We get to choose our response to each situation. Remember, you always have the “keys to the car.” Pull yourself away from having the “victim mentality.”
- Applying Focus – Take a moment, in the moment to focus on the present and to take a deep breath and be grateful for the moment you are in. This can be something as simple as counting 10 deep breaths and only being focused on your breathing, and nothing more.
One of the best quotes I have heard for the definition of living in the present moment is this:
“To be where your feet are.”
Once you have focused on lowering your stress levels, here are 3 steps for being able to “play in the present moment” and to be where your feet are:
- Just focus on the next “play” in your life. Don’t worry about the play that just happened, focus on what you are going to do in this present moment.
- Focus on what you have control over. I love to say “Control the Controllables.” Focusing on your own attitude and effort can be the two biggest levers you can use to play big in your present moments.
- Focus on the process, not the outcome (lots more details on this below!)
I want to dive in a little bit more on why focusing on the process is so much more valuable than purely focusing on the outcome.
First off, I want to say that focusing on outcome based goals can be a good way to focus on more short term goals. For example, if you have a wedding you want to get ready for in 6 weeks and want to look and feel a certain way in that wedding gown, you may have specific nutritional habits you will focus on or you may also be working out more intensely until your “moment” comes.
In sports, having short term, outcome based goals happen all the time. There are those times when your “name gets called” and you have to be ready for that moment.
I competed at the highest level nationally and internationally for 7 years in the sport of Bobsled. The outcome goal every 4 years was to win a gold medal. Even though I never won a gold medal, looking back it was actually the process of showing up day after day and training for 6-8 hours each day that made that part of my life more fulfilling. I would even argue that by me learning to get comfortable being uncomfortable and doing hard things made me more resilient in my life right now.
I know a lot of athletes that medaled at the Olympic Games – this was the ultimate outcome based goal – and when they reached the top of that mountain, they had no idea what to do next. In fact, they felt lost, depressed, even defeated for not knowing what next steps to take next in their life.
This is where having process based goals are so important.
“Focus on the journey, not the destination.”
I know this is one of the most overused quotes out there, but it is true. Joy is not always found in finishing a goal, but actually in the processes it takes to get you there.
If you can get one takeaway from this post, this might be it:
If you can detach from the outcome, and just love the process and the work involved to get you there, you will be well on your way.
On the other hand, when outcomes and results in your life start to define your self-worth, that is when you will invariably start to have problems – mentally, emotionally and physically.
The “One Brick at a time” Analogy
If I was tasked with building a brick wall, I feel I have the confidence that I can build a brick wall. Even though I have zero training in building a brick wall; I have no masonry training, and have never done it before. But I am still highly confident I can do it. The reason is, I have trained myself to not worry about the end result – not to worry about the finished product of the brick wall.
Instead, I am going to put all my focus into laying each and every brick – one by one – with care and precision. If I can take one brick, and set it exactly where it needs to go, then grab the next brick and set it exactly where it needs to go – and if I do that consistently and over time, the wall will just take care of itself. I don’t have to be worried about the wall (the outcome), I just need to be focused on laying one brick at a time (the process).
The brick wall analogy really hit home personally for me. It helped me realize the piece that most people are missing in the equation when they are looking for results – and that is TIME. Time helps compound your results, and when you keep your effort level the same, and compound it with time, you will always do better than looking at short term fixes, diets, fads, cleanses (or anything else in your life, really!).
Here is the equation I love to use when thinking of a process based goal:
Effort x Consistency x Time = Results
Time is usually the one missing variable in goal setting. Along a long enough time horizon, and with the inputs of effort and consistency staying equal you can truly accomplish anything in your life that you want! Time is literally the limiting constraint, that is why most great things that are built take longer.
I know I went through A LOT in this article, so here are the takeaways:
- Practice being “in the moment” – take 10 deep breath’s and end the tenth breath with saying one thing out loud you are grateful for.
- Focus on the “next brick” you are looking to place on the wall, don’t focus on the finished product of the huge brick wall (your entire life).
- With a high enough degree of effort made consistently over a long enough time horizon, literally, anything is possible.
Ready to make some sustainable change in your life, and are looking for that gentle nudge of accountability to get there? We can’t wait to help. Set up a time below to talk to a coach to get started!
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