Covid-19 has been and still is, a challenging time for so many of us. I am a single parent of sons. We rely totally on my income. During the first lockdown, my training and coaching work disappeared completely almost overnight, for the first four months. My eldest son graduated from University with no ending rituals to mark his rite of passage. Both my sons are looking for full time, long term work and taking part-time or short-term contracts where they can. You will have your own stories of this time in your lives and sadly, many will be tragic.
One of the things Covid-19 has highlighted is the fragility of our lives. In the blink of an eye, everything can change. The positive side is that it helps us to get back in touch with our values, to appreciate the things that are truly important to us, and let go of worrying about the trivial.
It has highlighted the need to live in the moment and be grateful for what we have in our lives right here, right now. This article is about recognising that the present is precious and suggests one way to make the most of it.
If you need help in dealing with stress you can have a read here for the 3 Effective ways to deal with Stress.
Your Precious Present
Some people spend their lives focusing on the past, wishing things were not changing, and using their energy in a futile effort to maintain the status quo. Others are so future-oriented, dreaming, hoping, planning, and wishing, to the point that their present fades to grey. When they achieve great things they don’t stop to celebrate and enjoy the moment because they are already striving for the next goal.
For me, it’s all about balance. Albert Einstein put it well when he said:
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
As someone who tends to naturally look to the future, I have learned to consciously move my attention to the present, more often. I want to relish it, be fully present for my sons and live in the moment. One of the ways I do this is to take a leaf out of Einstein’s book and use questions – questions for the start of the day, the evening, and at bedtime.
Start of the day questions
· What am I excited about today? What about that makes me excited?
· How can I make the most of my unique skills and strengths today?
· What can I do to make today the best day it can be?
· What have I failed at today? In what way did I fail?
· What didn’t go well today? What was the reason for that?
· What did I learn today? How can I apply that learning?
· What were my successes today? How did I contribute to that success?
· What am I proud of? What about that makes me feel proud?
· What am I grateful for in my life right now? Why am I grateful for that?
For those of you who feel uncomfortable about the failure question. I learned about this from John Brubaker who tells the story of Sara Blakely, the CEO and founder of Spanx. Each week her father asked Sara and her siblings what they had failed miserably at that week. Not to punish them or bring them down. In fact, he would slap them on the back and congratulate them when they put forward their failures. The reason was to teach them that failure is a normal and expected part of the process through which we find success. Actively looking for failures and facing up to them reduces our fears, builds our resilience, and helps us learn what we need to do to succeed.
My intention, set at the start of last year and I am carrying with me into 2021, is to double my failure rate. The current circumstances have provided ample opportunities for that. It ensures I get out of my comfort zone, try new things, and take the risks necessary in responding well to the current situation.
You can use these questions yourself, with your loved ones and adapt them for your team to value the present and to positively shape your days and lives.
· Do you tend to focus on the past, present, or future?
· Which of the questions resonates the most with you?
Julie Kay is the founder of JK Leadership Development Ltd. She is a Professional Certified Coach (ICF) and an Ashridge Accredited Executive Coach (Ashridge/Hult International Business School). She works with fast-growing medium-sized businesses often in STEM-related industries. She particularly enjoys supporting technical and operational experts to increase their self-awareness, achieve results, and build strong trusting relationships with those around them.