By Roger Crawford. This was originally published on Roger's blog.
If you have played tennis, you’ve likely been given this advice: “One point at a time.”
This expression communicates a simple yet vital idea – you have to play tennis in the moment.
This concept is called mindfulness and it has applications in both our personal lives and our work.Mindfulness means focusing on the present rather than dwelling on the past or predicting the future. This practice allows you to remove distractions, increase your attention span and improve your results.
You may be familiar with those grand prize draws where you don’t get the prize unless you’re on location. What is true about the drawing for a grand prize is also true in life: You have to be present to win!
Here is a process I have used in my coaching sessions that I hope you find useful. It helps you to spend less time regretting the past or fearing the future.
RELEASE: Letting go of the past and focusing on the present is necessary to perform at your best. If you give your attention to what you cannot change about yesterday, it’s difficult to focus on what you can change today. Releasing the past allows you to restore your strength and reinvigorate your motivation.
When we let go of the past, we also let go of excuses. We all know someone who has a victim mentality today because they choose to relive disappointment and failure from their past. By placing blame and finding excuses based on our past, we relinquish the power over our present circumstances. We have all faced adversity that was outside our control. However, we can control our reactions to past experiences and that determines whether we see ourselves as a victim or victor.
REFOCUS: Now that you’ve closed the chapter on the past, you can give your attention to the present moment. A present state of mind is incredibly valuable to anyone who wants to perform at their best when it matters most. When you are totally focused on what you want to achieve, your desire will be stronger than your disappointments.
When you play “one point at a time” it doesn’t mean that negative thoughts and emotions won’t creep in. However, this practice gives you a way to redirect your thinking towards ideas that are more positive and productive.
RESPOND: The ability to live in the moment and respond based upon your current circumstances is one of the most important factors in your success. We choose to be either reactionary or responsive. When we react to something, it happens quickly with little awareness and we relinquish control of our words and actions. On the other hand, responding is calm and thoughtful. It gives us a feeling of being in control. Reacting to circumstances tends to be automatic whereas responding is intentional.
Life happens in the present. Don’t let it slip by! I am writing this on my birthday and looking forward to a slice of cake. Typically, my thoughts would be on how long I would have to work out tomorrow to burn up those calories! Not tonight. I am going to enjoy every bite!
Remember, you have to be present to win!
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