Written by Professional Academy Management and Leadership Tutor, Kathryn Knights
What stops you from doing the things you should be doing? Social media, fear, the lure of another cup of tea and a biscuit? Sometimes it can feel like a constant battle to remain focused on the task in hand. Here are some insights into how to train yourself to become better at living in the present, so that you can take action today to build the future you want tomorrow.
In the Western world there is an assumption that we must ‘overcome’ fear because it is a flaw in our personality or character. But it is not necessary to change our feelings in order to take action. In fact, it is our efforts to change our feelings that often make us feel even worse.
This is where Morita Therapy comes in. It has its routes in Japanese psychology. It was devised by Morita Shoma, a Japanese psychiatrist, in 1919. Morita Therapy enables you to accept your feelings and then take the right action.
For example, if you are in a conference room filled with new people but you do not feel confident enough to go and speak with anyone, you should simply accept your feelings of shyness and then take action. Think of one question you could open up a conversation with and then go over to someone and start a conversation. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.
Whilst having some sort of plan is useful for clarifying your thoughts and giving you a general direction to head in, too much planning can lead to inertia.
Author, James Clear, has written an excellent article that explains how successful people ‘start before they are ready’: https://jamesclear.com/successful-people-start-before-they-feel-ready.
In his article Clear uses Richard Branson as an example of someone who got into business without being ready. Clear wraps up his article by reflecting that we all start with nothing, but successful people get going anyway.
Always keep in mind that conditions in life are never prefect but don’t let that get in the way of taking action.
When you book a holiday do you spend a lot of time fantasising about how amazing the holiday will be? How relaxed you will feel? The tasty food you will eat and the places you will visit?
Fast forward to being on that same holiday. Do you then think start to think about how quickly the holiday is passing and what you need to get done when you get back home?
If this sounds familiar then your mind is living in the future. The bad news is that you’re missing out on what’s happening now (which is the only thing you have control over). The good news is that you can train your mind to live in the present, helping you move forwards and make progress today.
The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, powdered green tea. During these ceremonies people can only talk about what is happening in the room i.e. the ceremony. No other topics of conversation are allowed. This technique helps to train people to be fully focused on the here and now.
So the next time you are having dinner try focusing the conversation only on the things that are in the room e.g. what you are eating, what’s on the walls, the chairs you are sitting on etc.
Practice this exercise and over time you will train your mind to stay present in the moment more often.
We are quite an impatient society and that leads us to the idea that when we want to do something we want it to happen right now. So we tackle things with that mindset and tend to fail.
However, it is small steps that pave the way in making progress in the long term. What is the 1% action you can take every day? For example, if you want to write a book you could write for five minutes each day.
By breaking tasks down into the smallest part and then taking action every day you will create momentum. This can be likened to the basic laws of physics, which is that a body in motion will stay in motion until it reaches a point at which it is forced to stop. So keep the momentum going!
Small and consistent action also has a compound effect. For example, if you want to learn to speak Spanish, the words you learn today will be added to the previous ones you have learnt, creating an even bigger pool of language.
Never underestimate the power of the small and consistent action you can take today when it comes to achieving big results in the future.