Learning to Be Present: 5 Steps to a Successful Day

October 16, 2019  |  No Comments  |  by Jeff McQuilkin  |  Blog
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Mindfulness isn’t difficult—we just need to remember to do it!” — Sharon Salzberg

These days, we hear a lot of talk about the importance of “mindfulness” and being “present.” I think the reason we hear this is that most people aren’t. (Present, that is.) In our hectic lifestyle which seems to get more hectic by the day, it’s too easy to be lost in our thoughts. Our inner problem-solving mechanisms are always hard at work on whatever crisis—real or perceived—we seem to be facing. “Living in the moment” is becoming a lost art—and yet it’s critically important to our quality of life as well as our success. Mindfulness practices have been around for ages, but I think they’re coming to the forefront now because we’re realizing how much we need them. We need to re-learn how to be present.

This principle of being present holds true with a job search as with anything else, from interviews to career networking. In fact, virtually all networking experts stress that the key to success is being present in the conversation, whether you’re networking in person, over the phone or online.

What Does it Mean to be Present?

We all know it’s possible to be physically present but be basically somewhere else in our heads. So when we talk about being present, we’re talking about being focused mentally and emotionally on what is happening around you. It’s about being in the moment. When you’re conversing with someone, being present means not thinking about the past or worrying about the future, or thinking about how bad you are at networking, etc. You are calm, confident, relaxed and aware. Being truly present enables you to listen and actually hear and understand what is being said. Power is in the listening, not the speaking. You create trust, learn more about the person, gain critical information about their business and discover how you might support each other. When people feel heard, they are more willing to listen and participate.

How Do You Learn to Be Present?

Simple: Practice! Take time to learn how to purposefully achieve the “present state,” and pay attention to what being present feels like. Over time, you learn to re-create the experience over and over again, and eventually it becomes second nature.

Here are some useful tools I’ve found to practice “present-ness”:

Mindfulness exercises—simple exercises that teach you to be in the present moment. One of my favorite mindfulness exercises is a simple deep breathing technique. Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, breathe out for four counts, hold for four counts. Repeat the sequence until you feel calm and relaxed. You will notice your heart rate drops, you are centered and you are able to think more clearly.

Meditation practices. One of the most common and popular practices is a guided visualization/imagery session where your guide helps create mental  pictures for the purpose of relaxation, managing stress and improving your concentration and focus. A great resource for guided meditation is the Headspace App.

Meditative Story. This is a relatively new podcast experience created by Thrive Global in which you stop time, go on a journey and allow yourself to be immersed in someone else’s story. It creates an empowering opportunity to unplug, disconnect from the day-to-day stresses and drift to another time and place. By connecting deeply to someone else’s story, you will be able to reconnect with your own story and re- emerge restored and recharged. You can find Meditative Story wherever you get your podcasts.

There is some crossover and blending between all of these techniques, but they’re all designed to create opportunities for you to reduce stress, relax and improve your concentration and ability to focus so that you can make a conscious choice rather than a knee jerk reaction to a stressful or challenging situation.

My 5 Steps to a Successful Day

How can you incorporate the principle of being present into your daily routine? I advise all my clients to go through the following steps each morning to create and maintain a present state. I call them “5 Steps to a Successful Day” because to me, being successful and being present are basically synonymous. If you are present, you are successful. Here are the steps.

  1. Engage in one or more of the exercises I mentioned earlier—whatever feels the most comfortable to your mindset, lifestyle or belief system.
  2. Read a short article or pick a quote that will inspire and motivate you or help or reduce your stress. I recommend creating a reference library of these articles and quotes so you can revisit them.
  3. Write down what you are grateful for. It may be people, opportunities, experiences or past successes. In doing so, you’re bringing the good things from the past into the present moment.
  4. Write down your gifts, talent and the value you bring. This exercise basically forces you to review your positive traits in preparation for your day. It may seem repetitive at first, but you will find your list evolving as you practice.
  5. Write down your goals for the day. This sets the stage for living in the present on purpose all day long.

Finally, I recommend keeping your daily entries in a journal to monitor your activity and progress.

Consistency counts!!

Whatever your goals are for landing a new job or starting a new career, I’m here to help. Send me an email at terrylynn@giraffesconsulting.com, or call me at 646-320-1126 to set up a free 30-minute consultation. We can get you there together.

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