Mindfulness: a popular, often bandied-about word. But what does it mean?
There are a few interpretations or ways to describe mindfulness, but one is: ‘being in the moment’. If that still seems too vague, it’s an appreciation and awareness of everything you’re doing…right now.
It means not longing for what you don’t have, or constantly chasing your tail to achieve one deadline after another without stopping to reflect on what you’ve achieved through each. It’s deliberately carrying out your actions consciously, rather than going through the motions or letting life pass you by – having focus and being more aware of your physicality as you go about your day.
But what difference does this make?
To some, this may be just a state of mind – one that doesn’t have any more effect on our quality of life than not being mindful.
Mindfulness has many benefits, but one that stands out for me, given the problems clients come to me with, is that it reduces stress. By spending more time in the moment, we don’t allow our mind to wander or brood over upcoming stressful situations, or things that are out of our control – which, when you consider this logically, is a waste of energy.
This diffuses associated anxiety and can lift depression, particularly as we become more appreciative of the little things that often get overlooked as our lives become busier. Mindfulness is intended as a preventative treatment, stopping stress from taking root in our minds, bringing perspective instead.
How can we use mindfulness in our careers?
One tool used to encourage mindfulness is anchoring (read my blog on this subject here), which has a positive effect on our memory. And with less clutter, we’re sharper, more focused and able to deal with just one thing at a time – and doing it well.
By not tossing and turning over the next day’s events – because mindfulness teaches us it’s pointless to do so – we have the tools for a more rested sleep, which has another positive, knock-on effect on our focus the next day. Mindfulness doesn’t suppress such thoughts, it just gives you the ability to detach yourself, helping you to file them away from your consciousness.
Today’s technology can be a drain on our time, unintentionally. We often pick up our phones or tablets idly, and before we know it, we’ve spent an hour or two surfing the net, shopping, or reading unimportant emails. Choosing instead to play with the kids or take a walk in the park boosts our whole wellbeing, and is more likely to be a good way to spend our spare time. On our deathbeds, who of us would say, “I wish I’d looked at my phone more”; more likely, our regret will be not spending more time with our loved ones, or not doing more of the things we love to do.
Our friendships have the opportunity to be strengthened through mindfulness, another common casualty of a busy working life. Research has proved that the quality of our friendships can have an effect on our lives; living in the moment, and finding time to spend a few hours with a friend boosts our mental health and overall wellbeing.
Research has also shown that mindfulness can restrain the ego, and influence go-getters to not get carried away with their achievements. “Yesterday’s success does not lower tomorrow’s risk,” says Todd Essig, Forbes contributor. “Good managers and savvy investors already know this. They know they have to attenuate the high that can come from successful investing, because the ‘highs’ hide risk – however much the feeling of invincibility says otherwise.”
Originally linked to yoga and meditative practices, mindfulness now has positive connotations in the world of business. A variant of the ‘work smarter, not harder’ school of thought, if it helps to reduce unnecessary stress and sharpens focus, I think it can only be a good thing, despite the knocks it may get from non-believers of the attitude.
Would mindfulness enrich your life? How mindful would you say you are – care to find out with a practice exercise?
Register here to download your FREE practice exercise: http://www.executive-life-coaching.co.uk/; you’ll also find a host of other, free resources.
For help with focus, anchoring and mindfulness within your career, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01302 220021.
Main image courtesy of http://www.enthusiasticbuddhist.com
- Posted in: Career Coaching ♦ Emotional Intelligence ♦ Executive Coaching
- Tagged: anchoring, angela sabin, conscious thought, decluttering our mind, detached thinking, emotional intelligence, executive coaching, focus, friendships, mindfulness, mindfulness at work, state of mind, strategic mindfulness, work life balance