In our future-oriented world, I find it helpful as a coach to borrow from the Buddhist meditation philosophy and practice mindfulness. Dr. Elisha Goldstein describes mindfulness in one of her blogs as “being aware of what lens we’re wearing when looking at life, so we can be more intentional.” She notes that when people suffer from depression she observes “the unintentional act of looking toward the future with a negative lens can really sap our motivation to make any progress toward a more fruitful and positive future. After all, if we’re anticipating doomsday, what’s the point in even trying? This is major fruit for procrastination.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. had wise words for us on this issue. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” The idea of seeing what’s possible in the future and then taking action towards that future is what we teach in our leadership workshops on visioning. The first step is clearing our lens for a positive outcome and then we can move forward to make a plan for the individual tasks that need to take place in between the initial picture and the final outcome. Mindfulness theory helps us anchor ourselves mentally in the present moment, the “here and now,” and balance that with moving towards our vison one step at a time.
So, how do we do this? How do we stop ourselves from racing forward, in wild anticipation of the perceived unknown, without first setting our intention? Here are some practical steps you can take:
- First, center yourself physically. Take a few deep complete breaths. Relax your body. Feel where you are in time and space. For example, “Right now I am feeling refreshed. It is early morning and I am seated in this comfortable desk chair. The temperature is cool and the tree outside my window shows a slight breeze. I am thinking of how peaceful the scene is. There is even a hummingbird on the branch. It’s very quiet except for the sound of the heater blowing warm air into the room. I am ready for the task at hand.”
- Remind yourself of your own special talents that will help bring your vision into a real life experience. For example, recognize your attention to detail and your ability to organize concepts into practical actions and results. You may notice that you have a gift to organize your physical space. In the present moment, notice how you are able to focus your thinking preparation to prepare for the next task.
- Recall your planned end result as though it has already taken place. Use all of your senses to create within the mind’s eye the completed project, the accomplished task, the job well done. See and feel yourself in this scene as if it is happening right now. Identify any sounds, smells or even tastes that would be present in the final outcome that may make the experience be more powerful for you.
- Choose one thing that you will do as your next step to fulfill your vision. This could be your “first step in faith.” Keep it simple. This is like planting the first seed --- it just takes this one to begin. Right here. Right now.
Have you found yourself overwhelmed or feeling unfocused when you rush ahead with an agenda that is packed with more than you can comfortably focus? Instead, first stop to take a few moments to center yourself and be present in the moment. Jon Kabat Zin wrote an entire book on this concept called Wherever You Go, There You Are. He cautions us to “feel the present moment, to see it in its fullness, to hold it in awareness and thereby come to know and understand it better. Only then can we accept the truth of this moment of our life, learn from it, and move on.”
Continue to be intentional in a positive way. Take one step. Expect success. Please share your vision for the future and the first – or next – step you will take! We are interested!
With Warm Regards,