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How to focus on the present and be flexible through change

“The only thing constant is change.” “Be prepared.” “You never know what tomorrow will bring.”

We certainly live in uncertain times – especially so since the events of September 11, 2001.

With continuing shifts in our economy, downsizing and outsourcing in business and readjusting the goal posts, I am increasingly asked by my clients to equip their staff to deal with change.

Managing ourselves (and our businesses) requires high levels of flexibility and tenacity. In developing these skills and attitudes, there is, of course, no ‘quick fix’. However, there are things we can do that will move us in the desired direction.

Consider making these activities a part of your Personal Development Plan:

1. Develop skills to deal with change by immersing yourself in it regularly!

  • Commit to doing something new each month – a new hobby, sport, visiting a new place. With time, you will become comfortable with being uncomfortable!
  • Initiate conversations with strangers in lifts, shops and while waiting for public transport.
  • Take a different route to work once a week.
  • Volunteer to work on a project you know nothing about.
  • Change at least one of your routines once a week. Buy your morning coffee from a different shop, brush your teeth before breakfast, have a bath instead of a shower – anything that requires a shift in your mindset and behaviour is worthwhile!

2. Learn to focus on the present

  • Meditate. Focus on the quality (not the quantity) of your meditation practices. If closing your eyes sends your brain wild with “To Do List Items”, look at a candle’s flame or beautiful photo or painting. Concentrate on slow, deep and rhythmic breathing.
  • Do Tai Chi or Yoga. If sitting still drives you crazy, you may find concentrating on easy, fluid movements and patterns soothing.
  • Creative Dance is whatever you make it! Recordings of relaxation music and nature sounds can be the backdrop to graceful stretches and gentle motion.
  • Do something that you know from experience requires your full attention. For me, counted cross-stitch (a form of needlework) works well. It totally absorbs me and is a complete change from my normal brain/body work. The key is to notice the elements of this activity that make it so absorbing for you. What’s the environment and the nature of the activity itself? Are there aspects of this that can be duplicated in other activities? What are your thought processes and Internal Dialogue at this time?
  • Hang out with kids – especially young ones. Children have the delightful ability to fully and truly be in the moment. There’s no ruminating over the past or worry about the future. Get in there and join them – it’s a wonderful space to experience.

“Yesterday is history – we cannot change it. Tomorrow is a mystery we cannot know for certain. Today is the only time we have – it is a gift. I guess that’s why it’s called the present.”

© Sandi Givens, 2010

Permission to reprint this article is welcomed provided the following:

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