My favorite days are when I have a little down time early in the morning to sip a warm cup of coffee, reflect on my life, and prepare for the day ahead.
My wife’s family has passed down a unique tradition when taking a big trip: once they are all dressed and ready to go, everyone stops and sits quietly for a moment (sometimes just a few quick seconds) and then they head out. This pause is thought to ensure they have a safe and successful trip. It gives everyone a moment to make sure nothing important is forgotten, and reminds you to slow down enough to be in control of, rather than just reacting to, life.
There are only about 20,000 days in an average life (if you take out a third for sleeping); every day is 0.005% of my life that I want to make count. I don’t want to forget anything important, and I need to slow down enough to be in control… I need to treat every day as if it’s another “big trip.”
There’s no hiding that I’m a workaholic. As soon as I finish my daily exercise my tendency is get right to work, checking e-mail, catching up on news, reviewing my investments. But lately I have been making an effort to take a moment every day top stop and sit quietly:
- Stare out the window. I love the amount of information available only a click away. But before I hop into the Matrix, I must remember that it all exists for the purpose of enhancing the life out there. Technology is a tool, not a substitute for life.
- Be grateful. I am extremely grateful for everything I have, but I’m also prone to focusing on problems that need solving. It is easy to get caught up in the wondrous world of achievement and lose sight of the things that drive me to achieve. Taking time to remember what is important grounds me to my purpose.
- Dream of the goal. Steven Covey says, in the classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to begin with the end in mind. He says, “If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default.” So I take time to dream about the ends I am trying to achieve.
- Breathe. I spend a great deal of my day focused on whatever I happen to be working on. In that focus I often tighten my breathing. Remembering to breathe deeply and purposefully is important to my health and productivity. It is a habit I have to be conscious of to keep. Practice makes perfect.
How do you stop and take time to reflect?