By Dierdra Howard • May 02, 2017•Writers in Residence, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life
I will practice being fully present in all aspects of my life and will take the time to observe the beauty that surrounds me.
Spring is in full bloom! We are surrounded by all of the beauty that the season brings, but have you actually stopped to appreciate what’s blooming right under your feet? Are you really present in every moment, or are you overwhelmed by work, stress, and matters beyond your control? Professional obligations have a way of removing our focus from enjoying life, but distractions can give us the energy to effectively tackle those obligations. In my early days of practicing law, I was constantly stressed by deadlines, discovery, motions and trial preparation. Often, I would close my door and dreaded anyone knocking because I did not want to be disturbed. I convinced myself that the only way I could be productive in managing a heavy case load was to sit at my desk for hours on end, focusing entirely upon my work. I felt like I was on a constant treadmill and it was isolating and frankly, unhealthy. Thank goodness for a particularly talkative and socially aggressive intern, Maria.
Despite hibernating in my office and praying that no one would knock on my strategically shut door (not completely closed, but open only a sliver to appear “inviting”), she would simply bypass knocking and walk into my office daily for a morning chat. And forget my lunch plans of eating a salad and string cheese while checking my e-mail. We had to leave the office for lunch and she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Despite my goal of staying in my office for eight hour stretches, Maria had other plans. She made me stop and smell the roses. Those conversations and lunches were not only fun, but they cleared my head, improved my focus and resulted in a friendship that has lasted to this day.
We often trick ourselves into thinking that if we just work to the point of exhaustion and at time through it, we can reach our goals, when actually quite the opposite is true. When we develop professional tunnel vision, real life passes us by. However, when we take the time to let professional obligations go, even for a bit, and truly be present we live a far more fulfilling life and actually gain the proper energy, focus and drive that is needed for professional success. While you may not be lucky enough to have a Maria, you do have plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the life that is happening around you. We all need opportunities to turn off and be fully present. It only takes a few minutes to recharge and the time “lost” in productivity will be repaid in increased focus and clarity.
Have a professional interaction where you are fully present and engaged. Plan a device free lunch, a walking meeting or happy hour where you can spend quality time with your colleagues or classmates. When talking with others, no matter what the issue, take the opportunity to listen and be fully present and engaged.
Take a walk, hike or run outside without music or other conversation. Get away from the noise distractions of the gym and find quiet. Seek a silent place to practice yoga or stretch after a strenuous workout. Give yourself the gift of being fully present and undistracted.
Asana of the Month:
Corpse Pose (Shavasana): This resting pose will remind you to be fully present in the moment, without distractions. Lie on your back with your legs hips width apart. Lay your arms by your sides with your palms facing the ceiling, relax your muscles and melt into the floor beneath you. Hold this pose for five to ten minutes in complete silence, while breathing deeply through your nose.