Any time I hear that word – mindful – I gag a little. It stops me in my tracks. And it’s everywhere. It’s on every magazine cover I read while standing in line at the grocery store. It’s mentioned on most podcasts I listen to. Most articles on leadership mention it.
(I’ve gaged a few times just now writing this.)
Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I understand what it means. I understand its usefulness. I understand its power. And yet, I hate that word.
When I think about why I hate it – and I do – I realize a few things. It’s not the meaning behind the word. But instead, the overuse of it. Stressed at work? Practice mindfulness. Can’t decide between two job offers? Practice mindfulness. Want to lose a few pounds? Practice mindfulness. All true. But can it be the answer to everything?
And then the Coronavirus become something to pay attention to. It is all everyone is talking about. Every company you have ever given your email address to is emailing you about hygiene. A few days ago, I was overwhelmed with the onslaught of information and concerns. The best-intentioned friends and family were sending me updates and asking, What am I doing about my trip this week to Chicago? Are we still going away for the big family trip? Every notification I received concerned the Coronavirus. I couldn’t take it. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t focused on the people in my world as I normally am. Writing, preparation, and development was all taking longer than it normally did. I was distracted and unproductive.
And then it hit me…I need to practice mindfulness. (Yes, I just gaged.)
BUT…I will do it my way. (Just ask my mom about going to summer camp with my older brother when I was too young, according to their rules.) For me, it’s not about being mindful. It’s being deliberate. It is my choice how I respond.
I have a choice. I can choose my response. I can decide how and what I allow into my sphere. My brilliant friend texted me to say she turned off NPR and turned on the stand-up comedy station instead. THIS is being mindful.
These are the choices I made: I immediately turned off notifications from all news sources. I shared with my friends and family my feelings of anxiety and of being overwhelmed. I listened to podcasts that made me smile and laugh, thank you Dax Shepard, Kate and Oliver Hudson, and of course, Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations. These deliberate actions had an amazing effect. I slept! I felt calmer about our current state of uncertainty. And I am more focused on the people in my world.
If this sounds familiar, try these three steps to be deliberate:
1 – PAUSE. How are you feeling about the current state of your world?
2 – PAY ATTENTION. What is causing you stress or anxiety? Not how others are responding, but what is affecting you?
3 – TAKE ACTION. What can you do differently? What choices are you making that serve you best? Again, not what serves your friends and family, but YOU!
Writing this piece has shown me I can write the world Mindful, (didn’t gag there) and be OK with it. Not to worry, you won’t be hearing it come out of my mouth any time soon. For me, it’s not about a different word. It’s a different frame of mind.
Be Deliberate. Make your own Choices. Excel at your career.
Thank you, Corona, there is something good coming out of this.