Hello? Is Anyone Home? How to Stay Present When You’re Drifting

Have you ever been in a meeting or at a family gathering and you can just feel your eyes glaze over and you start thinking about your last marathon or the latest episode of Blacklist? You’re smiling and nodding at all the right spots. You’re body is there, but you are definitely not. Why is that? The meeting you’re in is probably one you requested. You love your family. You’re a great listener and a brilliant conversationalist. So why can’t you seem to stay there, in the moment?

A couple of things can be happening here and they all come down to mindset, focus, and saying no. Let’s work on this through the process of elimination.

Are you in a meeting, hanging out with friends, or conducting an interview, but you’re mind isn’t there? Well, why did you say yes in the first place? Out of obligation? FOMO? Because you’re letting someone else or something else dictate your time and priorities? Because no one else can do it as good as you can? JUST STOP. The first step is saying no and making sure you’re only doing the things and spending time with the people who are going to get you one step closer to your goals. I was listening to Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill a few weeks ago and the Devil made a solid point – business leaders take care with who they surround themselves with because negative mindset, low level conversations, and mediocrity may cause drifting. Now, the Devil was referring to the aimless drifting of an individual, one who never finds or accomplishes their definite purpose in life, but either way – surround yourself with just anybody and you will drift! It may sound brutal, but your time is precious. You’ve got industries to disrupt and lives to change. Ain’t nobody got time for mediocrity. SIDE NOTE: If you haven’t read Outwitting the Devil go read it now! Napoleon Hill was SO far ahead of his time. The book is fascinating. 

Okay, so let’s say you’ve got this part down – you’re surrounding yourself with the best people on the planet and you’re only saying yes to the critical meetings, activities, etc. that will move you forward. So why are you still not present? It’s time to do a mental and physical energy check. Have you exercised that day? Did you eat breakfast? Is it time for a snack? You could simply need to get up, move, grab some water and then you would be able to refocus immediately. Keep these things in mind. It’s why I prime my body every day with exercise and the proper nutrition. If I know I have X number of meetings that day (that I consciously said yes to), then I still need to make sure I’m 100% present in all of them, no matter if it’s 8am or 4pm.

Taking that a step further, how’s your mindset? Are you meditating, journaling regularly, taking time to think and just breathe? These should be regular parts of your routine so that the possibility of drifting away during a board meeting and missing a crucial piece of information is mitigated. But, shit happens and it’s all about how you deal with it. If you are truly not in the right frame of mind or are mentally exhausted from a massive challenge the day before, then reschedule that interview. It would be a waste of both of your time because no matter how great they were, you may not like the candidate simply because you’re not all there. It’s okay to cancel that board meeting if you know you just don’t have it in you to make one more decision. It’s just a different way of saying no. Say no to the meeting so you can say yes to taking care of you, so you are back at it full force the next day. Now, this shouldn’t happen often if you’re working on your mental, emotional and physical fitness everyday, but it does happen and you just need to be prepared. Decision fatigue is real. Anticipate it, plan for it, and do everything in your power to maintain your energy levels in order to be completely there, wherever you are, whoever you are with.

And the best way to do that is by practicing the art of being fully engaged or strategically disengaged, which is definitely not easy with all the daily distractions, Facebook alerts, and people wanting to just “pick your brain for a minute.” Protect that brain! When you’re on, be on and fully present (using some of the tactics above). If work is kicking your ass and you need to just get things done, then double down and be totally engaged at work. Then, when you get home an hour late, strategically disengage and spend time with your family. So many people may get home from work earlier than you do, but they turn on the TV (wait, there is no TV anymore, I mean Netflix), start chatting with people on Twitter, or bust out Call of Duty for 3 hours and totally miss being present with their family. And these same people have the audacity to talk shit about people who work a lot! It’s not the quantity of time, at home or at work, it’s the quality. An hour of uninterrupted, soul time (giving yourself over completely to your kids, your dog, your best friend) is much more rewarding than 4 hours of being a blob on the couch. You can accomplish far more by being full engaged at the office and strategically disengaged with your family. It’s a choice. In fact a lot of people at my company practice this strategy – work hard until family time, spend purposeful hours with them, then shift focus back to working, thinking, writing, etc. after the family is asleep!

You can employ these strategies too. Your family, friends, co-workers, and employees will thank you for it, because no matter how good you think you are at hiding the fact that you’re thinking about where to take your wife for your 10 year wedding anniversary in two years, people know when you’re not really there.

How do you stay in the moment? What keeps you grounded and present during all life’s moments?

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