I was on vacation last week, watching the beautiful ocean and feeling amazingly grateful to get to swim with the fish, but I missed quite a bit of the Olympics. I effectively unplugged, though, so I was able to shield myself from much of the results. I’ve enjoyed catching up on all my recordings and watching an overload of Olympic events since I’ve been back. I so admire these exquisite athletes and love watching them charge towards their goals and dreams. The triumphant smiles and tears of joy give me goose bumps.
One of the things I’ve noticed across events is the value of staying in the present moment. Several of the athletes have mentioned it, how they have to get out of their heads, not over-think things. I believe it’s been the deciding factor for many of the athletes. Watching the gymnastics, you can almost see it on their faces, whether they are thinking or whether they are fully focused on the element as they are doing it. When one of the gymnasts had a fall or an error, the ability to stay focused became even more important, not to let the internal dialogue take over but to continue to finish the routine in the way they had practiced thousands of times.
I think the ability to stay present is not only critical to success, it is also a key element in happiness. On my recent vacation, my nephew lamented on Day 2 that we only had 3 days left. In his mind, he was already leaving! While what he said was true, I reminded him that it was also true that right at that moment, we were in paradise, that “today” we would get to snorkel with the fish.
I had to chuckle at my nephew. I’ve been guilty of looking ahead so much that I miss what’s right under my nose, too. Other times, I’ve focused too much on looking back. And while it’s valuable to review what happened to make changes to your technique and approach for the future, and it’s definitely valuable to look ahead for planning and setting goals, the only thing we ever have is Now. This moment is the only one you are living right now.
Right now, find something you are grateful for. (If nothing else, you’re breathing – your body is effortlessly pulling in oxygen and sustaining life. You’re reading – your eyes and brain are working in magnificent symphony to comprehend.)
Right now – or, right after you finish reading this! – focus on the task in front of you. Write down other ideas or other tasks on your To-Do list to help clear your mind to stay present.
So channel your favorite Olympian and remember to stay focused. You’ll be less stressed, more focused and more likely to gain success and happiness.