"Life is not a dress rehearsal". I heard this line when I was in my mid 20’s. Maybe later, definitely a younger me. When I heard it, it was one of those moments where time stops and the magnitude of the moment, whether felt through words/feeling/sight, just engulfs you and the air around you. Holy sh&t. I suddenly got it. This was it, life was happening whether I was going to be part of it or not. For a while, I was on my game of appreciating the present and hustling with ambition. Inevitably, everyday life took over. And while there were moments of magnitude hitting home from time to time, the power of life’s everyday (the very thing I was hell bent on being mindful of), was steadily lulling me back into mindless cruise control. Where hours turn to days-to weeks-to Christmas and so forth. I lost a good chunk of my 30’s to life. I may be being a tad dramatic, but still...I was caught up in the details. There’s a difference between appreciating your details vs. being consumed by life's details (Matrix fans are with me completely).
We all know what getting caught up life's details feels like. Those days when you compare yourself to running in mud, or you feel super busy but accomplished nothing of importance. I hate those days. We think to ourselves: "What happened? Where did today go?" We lost our focus. We got sucked in. When unforeseeables come up, just because they present themselves does not mean you take your focus away from your vision and plan. Let’s reflect on this a second. You have a game plan of what you would like to accomplish for the day/week/year, how often does that go as you envisioned? More often than not, other people’s stuff, life itself, God’s humor…does not play along. During one of my own personal coaching sessions, I arrived at a phrase that would help me when those times came. For me, it resonates: Let the Canoe Handle the Whitewater (I like the thought of my day being a lazy river canoe ride). How it helps? I allow myself to acknowledge the frustration of the interruption…this is important because it gives me that human moment of being irritated with it...and after I have consciously allowed myself that moment, I dismiss that feeling, deal with the issue, and move on (just like the canoe handles the whitewater). This has helped me not have such an emotional roller coaster throughout the day, not to get consumed by these unforeseeables, and to keep my focus honed in on my goals. Big picture. Broadway.
Because your brain can only handle so much at once (which is why I don’t believe in multi-tasking), you must put energy into where you want your focus. Neuroscience shows that we are overwhelmed once we are taxed with more than 4-7 “things”; and 7 is pushing it. It also takes a lot of your brain’s resources and energy to handle those "things" because they are not resolved simply by routine thought, they steal your full attention. And the modern world loves to disrupt your brain and compete for your attention with news feeds, notifications, ads, and streaming tag lines…your brain is constantly bombarded. In your career, “multi-tasking” is on almost every job description; compound with technology, and business’ expect you to be handle more and more “tasks” in stride. The spot in your brain for 4-7 things fills up quickly, you attack, but then it’s refilled with more to do’s. That relentless cycle of distraction is what makes days turn to weeks gone by.
My encouragement: stay focused to your vision. To help you feel your day meant something. To give you strength because you handled the whitewater. Small accomplishments lead to the feeling of self worth (I did it!), which leads to keeping you focused and having the energy to continue to take on your bigger goals.
Now, go out there and break a leg.