Be Present Pit Stops
Lots of people live in the past. They reflect on what might have been if only they made a different choice at a specific moment in time. “What if I took that job, moved cities, stayed with that guy … he wasn’t so bad, was he?”
Then, there are people who live in the future. They constantly imagine themselves further down the road and love to make “five-year plans”.
Occasionally, I’ll catch myself dwelling on a past experience. Who doesn’t? But more often, I’m mentally living weeks, months and sometimes years ahead. I love wondering what my life will be like and have fun with different scenarios. You could say I’m a dreamer.
When I’m not daydreaming, I’m preparing, planning and working to make these dreams a reality. I’ve got goals. Big goals. If I don’t keep my eyes on the prize, I might lose focus.
As part of the planning process, I create steps and timelines. These are critical ingredients for progress. Nothing feels better than setting a goal, and then accomplishing it. It’s even more special when you reach one that seemed a tiny bit impossible at first. The feeling can be addictive.
Once a goal is reached, the logical thing to do is set another one. Often, we’re too busy planning and looking forward to appreciate how far we’ve already come. Who remembers to stop and smell the roses along the way? Not me.
I’m usually focused on the end result and tend to overlook the impressive steps I made throughout the journey. Knowing this, I’ve decided to take frequent “be present pit stops,” allowing myself time to take it all in. It’s been said that the journey is even more beautiful than the destination itself. I no longer want to miss the experience.
During a pit stop, I take a brief break for a 360-degree analysis of where I started, where I am, and where I still need to go. I make a conscious effort to be proud of each step that got me here. It wasn’t easy — it took lots of creativity and perseverance. I acknowledge my hard work, thanking my body and brain for carrying me through to this point.
A friend recently suggested that I write down all the things I’ve accomplished in a one-year period. I immediately loved this idea – it’s like a retro resolution list. It also seemed like the perfect pit stop activity.
After completing this exercise, I was staring at a huge list of impressive feats. As I took stock, I realized that most of these actions had gone unacknowledged and definitely unrewarded. I sensed a change needed to be made.
Now, I indulge in a little gratitude treat when I make marked but small progress. Maybe it’s a 10-minute foot massage, or taking half an hour to read for pleasure during time I typically reserve for work. These special moments allow me to truly live in the present. I give my goal-oriented brain a rest for a bit and just soak up all that’s around me.
I’m discovering these activities bring me a true sense of contentment and peace. I no longer feel like I’m endlessly reaching and striving to get somewhere or something. I’m tuned into the process and how enjoyable that can be. Arriving at the goal is so much sweeter when I’m mindful throughout the journey.
Jen Kluczkowski is a former NYC advertising executive turned health counselor and yogini. Combining nutritional advice and yoga philosophy, she specializes in helping busy individuals learn healthy eating habits and create balance, despite demanding schedules.
Photo credit: Alex Brown