Enjoy this repost from 2016 as I take a break from writing this week.
During the month of August, I experimented with a work/life scenario that is a common struggle for almost everyone. The experiment was to challenge myself to step out of preoccupation with work in order to be focused on the present situation with the people who are most important to me. My struggle occurs in the moments when my mind drifts away from the people and activity right in front of me to thoughts about my work. It might be activities like a ‘quick check’ of email or voicemail. But before I know it I am distracted, trying to be in two places at once.
This August presented a unique opportunity for this experiment. Our daughter, son-in-law and two grandkids would be staying with us for 17 days. They live out of state so our time with them is less than optimal when it comes to being a regular part of their lives. The goal of my experiment was to be fully present and engaged during this time and not allow preoccupation with my business to rob me of enjoying the people and events that are most important to me.
I am glad to say that, according to my wife, I succeeded! Yes, she is the best evaluator for this.
Here are some of the results.
- I took my grandson on his longest bike ride and we almost ran over a 4-foot black snake.
- I watched my granddaughter giggle and enjoy the wonder of water, rocks, sticks, and butterflies in a river.
- I played pirates in a magical tree house.
- I enjoyed hearing a six-year old read to me.
- I watched the grandkids’ amazement of butterflies being released into their new home.
- I played endless hours in the pretend world of a 2-year old.
- I had fun and laughed, because that’s what kids do most of the time.
- I spent hours of quality time and conversation with my daughter and son-in-law.
- I took multiple trips to the pool, museum, and out in our yard to make the most out of the hot, long, dog days of August.
What were the key actions that facilitated this success?
Prepared mentally to let my routine change. My wife and I discussed at length what our days would be like and prepared for it.
Cleared my work schedule so nothing pressed into my mind. I would see a bare minimum of clients and do no work on business development.
Said yes to the opportunities to spend time with the people I love because once they left those opportunities would be gone.
Said no to temptations to mentally engage in work.
Entered into the world of those I was with by listening, observing and curiosity rather than thinking of where else I could be.
Used my work model of discover, engage, and maximize for play. Let’s discover something new, engage in it and then get the most we can from it.
I am now fully engaged in my regular routine and it feels good. But something has changed. First, I have stored up a treasure of memories because I was fully present. And it has made me want to practice the art of being present with everyone I’m with and everywhere I am, because I want treasures of memories in other areas of my life as well.
What about you? What can you do to experience the power of being present this week? I encourage you to experiment to discover, engage and maximize being present.