Monday, April 08, 2013

What are you doing to be mentally prepared for your day?

Some people have a routine for getting up in the morning that includes some time to prepare mentally for the day ahead. They pray or meditate or workout because they find that starting that way often leads to a better day.  You might think about that and instantly feel even more stressed because you cannot imagine how to fit yet another half-hour into a day that is already much too full.

Even people who prepare for the day need to refocus during the day. Their concentrated practice does set them up for success, but it is not enough to carry them through a day of encountering other people and difficult ideas. Even people who start the day right need to be able to refocus more or less on the fly.

I'm going to suggest you test just two things today. You don't have to believe they will work, but they will take only a moment and (if you remember to check in after) you will be able to tell within a day whether they are making an impact.  Deal?

The first thing is to take three breaths.  Do you remember counting seconds as a kid? Maybe you said "one one thousand, two one thousand" or "one firetruck, two firetrucks."  Most people speak at about 125 words a minute, so saying at least two words gives you a rough count for one second. When you take these three magical breaths, count five seconds in and five seconds out (if you finish early, wait for a second before going on to the next inhalation or exhalation).

There will be a moment between the third breath and the next breath.  That moment will feel longer than most, and more quiet.  Into that quiet, send a one word description of what you want to be in the next part of your day.  You might choose a word like calm or unshakeable or peace. You might find that your day requires something more externally directed a quality like motivating, energized or pumped. It might feel more intellectual: sharp, focused, analytical. Or it might feel more physical: relaxed, charged up or balanced. You only need one word and you might as well trust the one that arrives first when you ask yourself: "What do I want to be now?"

You probably won't notice a huge impact (although you might!) if you do this just once. Try doing it before every new meeting, encounter or stage in your day.  It will take you a total of less than 5 minutes.

Aren't you curious? How much better could you make your day by knowing what you want from and for yourself in each situation?

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