As a busy professional and high-achiever, you likely pride yourself on your ability to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. Even though you might feel exhausted afterwards, it can feel exhilarating running meetings, completing projects, and crossing tasks off your to-do list. However, when we do this too often, it can begin to feel like we are stuck in a rut and as if we are living our life on autopilot.
But when we live our life on autopilot, over time we begin to lose a sense of who we are. This can lead to burnout-- and all that goes with it, such as a decrease in cognitive abilities, fatigue, apathy and more. Are you on autopilot?
SIGNS YOU MIGHT BE LIVING YOUR LIFE ON AUTOPILOT
You’re ignoring physical cues: High-performers may push themselves to their limits – both physically and mentally, often ignoring physical cues such as fatigue or pain. You might notice that you’re getting more headaches or that you’re having a hard time sleeping.
Constantly checking devices: With such a high-pressure job, you might feel the need to stay connected and on top of things at all times. This leads to you constantly checking emails, texts, and even social media. This can lead to distraction, decreased productivity, and increased stress levels.
Difficulty relaxing: High-achievers have a hard time slowing down and relaxing (work can be enjoyable and addictive!), because they might feel guilty when they try to take breaks or enjoy hobbies, if you even have a hobby.
Sound familiar? Fortunately, you don’t have to stay stuck on autopilot. An easy antidote to being on auto-pilot is to practice mindfulness.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is such a buzzword these days; it’s easy to brush it off and say we don’t have time to learn it, let alone practice it.
Believe it or not, you can practice mindfulness in as little as 30 seconds a day. You don’t have to meditate for hours.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully engaged in the present moment without ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. It involves paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings, and accepting them without trying to change them.
It doesn’t mean being undistracted for 30 minutes or “clearing your mind” and thinking of nothing. It truly means just the act of intentionally engaging in the present moment.
Becoming a more mindful person can help increase your focus, reduce your stress, and boost your overall well-being. Research shows that it even helps with conflict resolution in relationships.
WHY IS MINDFULNESS IMPORTANT FOR PRODUCTIVITY?
As a high-achiever, you may feel the constant urge to be on the go, pushing yourself to reach your maximum potential on all fronts. The intensity of this lifestyle can result in a maintained heightened stress level, with little time allotted for recharge and recovery from the mental and physical impacts of chronic pressure.
Practicing mindfulness can support stress management and recovery, improving your overall well-being. Studies have shown that mindfulness can improve mental health, reduce anxiety and depression, and even boost your immune system. You might even notice an improvement in your relationships. Practicing mindfulness improves self awareness which is a key ingredient in effective communication. Practicing mindfulness also helps you become more present and attentive, allowing you to foster deeper and more meaningful connections.
But probably the most ironic of them all, practicing mindfulness can actually improve productivity and focus. It also can be a great tool for fostering creativity and critical thinking skills!
HOW TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS AS A BUSY PROFESSIONAL
You might be thinking, “Sure Morgan, mindfulness sounds great, but I just don’t have the time!”
And I get it.
Fortunately, you don’t have to take more than 30 seconds out of your day to intentionally practice mindfulness. You can practice it anytime and anywhere– even while you’re working.
Here are some simple tips to help you get started with practicing mindfulness:
Start small. You don’t have to set aside hours upon hours each day to practice mindfulness. Start with just a few moments each day and gradually increase the amount of time – if that feels right for you.
Focus on your breath. One of the simplest ways to practice mindfulness is to focus on your breath. Just notice what it’s like to breathe in and out. Don’t try to change your breath– just notice.
Embrace distractions. Surprisingly, mindfulness is not about staying 100% focused. I’ve been practicing mindfulness for years and I still am distracted all of the time. The important piece is to just recognize that you’re distracted, do not judge yourself for getting distracted, and then go on to continue practicing. You’ll likely get distracted again– and that’s okay!
Notice your senses. One of my favorite ways to practice mindfulness is to just take a few moments to notice what I see, what I physically feel, what I hear, what I smell, and what I taste. Those few moments of paying attention to my senses is an act of mindfulness! No meditation or yoga required.
Don’t force it. Some days will feel easier than others to practice. There’s no right or wrong way of practicing mindfulness.
Pro Tip: If you’re on the computer a lot, it might be fun to practice mindfulness by noticing what it feels like to type on your keyboard, or click your mouse, or to sit back in your chair. Remember, mindfulness is really just about being present– no matter what we’re doing!
Mindfulness is an impactful method for high-achievers looking to boost their performance and improve their overall well-being. Even though it might seem to go against our nature to stop and just be present– even for just thirty seconds– the more we take that space, the more we will notice that we can thrive in our lives moving forward.
Mindfulness is not just the latest fad or trend; it’s been around for thousands of years because it works. It can help you reduce stress, improve your focus and productivity, and help you live a more meaningful and intentional life.