About three years ago, I put together personal goals for the first time in my life. I could tell you all about my business goals and rien (nothing) about my personal goals. And now, my number one personal aim for the last two year’s running is mind-training. There’s been no other training I’ve undergone more useful than this.
Your mind is the only tool you can truly control. And, it makes your work and life heaven or hell.
With certainty, I can say life is uncertain. You can’t control things outside yourself – your relationships, your work, your teams, your position, your commute, your flights, your health, your life span. It’s impossible. And yet, I thought controlling all of this was the answer. I’d be happier. And, it totally and completely failed.
So, why not switch strategies to something that really works and adds value to both your work and life. Train your mind every day. It’s able to transform any experience you encounter into a meaningful one. Know how to face uncertainty head on instead of resisting it.
It’s a matter of knowing how to do it and making the time for it. Otherwise, if you don’t change your mind, the same work and life patterns will run over and over. You may think you solved something and it’ll pop up in another area of your life. Guaranteed. Look at the past 5 years and see what’s true for you.
If you’re curious, ask yourself right now. What level of control do you have over your mind?
Is it thinking peaceful thoughts or is it full of ad-hoc crazy business.
I spent a long time doing diligence for business deals.
A key analysis was a Quality of Earnings assessment (QoE). It makes me laugh thinking of putting together a Quality of Thinking assessment for myself (QoT). Luckily, my QoT is trending north now.
I wish for yours too as well. It’ll make work and life so much better.
Check these tips out to find little ways to start training your mind.
Mind-Training Tips to Make Work and Life Better
Be Mindful of Your Experiences
Yes, it’s the obvious one. Who wants to walk around being mindless?! And yet, I know I did it for a long time (like most of my life!). It’s critical to be able to step back from what’s going on and observe. Almost like you were watching yourself in a movie. Catch what’s causing you the most pleasure and pain. See the patterns. Name them. Keep a journal like a detective.
Reframe Challenging Situations
In a tough period of my career, I felt like I was failing almost daily. I discovered a special way to accept and appreciate these experiences. I’d write out what exactly was bothering me. Then, I’d ask myself what was the lesson I learned. And, even more importantly, what gift did I receive from this experience.
I remember once that someone spoke rather harshly with me and it upset me. I sat myself down that night and laid it all out on a small piece of paper. The relief was instant. I quit dwelling on what happened. And, I let go of feeling like it was me that was the failure. My untrained mind would’ve made me feel bad.
This is one small way to reframe. The possibilities are endless. It helps to start small like in this example.
Step into Meaningful States of Mind
States of mind are like recipes. Start taking a look at the ones you care to mix up more often. You can choose anything – happy, peaceful, calm, confident, creative, grateful. You can step out of any that you want to – stressed, busy, anxious, sad, discouraged. Be conscious of which state you’re in during the day.
The key is to practice the mindsets you want consistently. It doesn’t work to try this in the heat of the moment if you’ve not built any skill in doing so. You’ve got to gain familiarity like you do when you’re riding a bike. Your mental actions are so powerful. This is where concentration and meditation come to your rescue.
Retrain Yourself to Focus Single-Pointedly
Multi-tasking is a thief. It robs you of time and attention. It distracts you. This is where I’d recommend a stopping practice. Kindly stop it. Instead, retrain your mind to stay focused on one thing at a time.
The ability to effectively concentrate is an invaluable life skill. It helps your work, your relationships, your peace of mind. Make this actionable. Experiment with one 15 minute block a day. Concentration is a skill that requires practice. Click here for more info on what can be called “uni-tasking”.
Meditate on Meaningful Objects
I was super good at meditating in the past – on the wrong things. I worried about work when I was out with friends, going home to visit my parents, traveling in the car, on the plane, in bed, everywhere. If it wasn’t work, it was some other thing I wanted more of or some uncertainty I wanted to control. These worries and controlling thoughts were my object of meditation.
So, it was encouraging to know you can map this skill over and change the focus to beneficial things like patience, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, kindness. That’s going to go a lot further in the workplace and in your life than any deadline you meet, presentation you give, project you complete, activity you engage in. This is your vibe, your energy.
I’ve heard that the function of meditation is to give rise to mental peace. And, if you’re more peaceful, you’ll be happier. Who wouldn’t want more of that? It seems to work a lot better than the work harder to get ahead mantra that rang in my ears for so long. I never found happiness that way.
Controlling your mind is a process. It will make your day better, week better, work better, life better. The great part is the more you do, the more benefits you receive (as well as the people around you).
To practice some mindfulness, notice what experience is lingering in your head now. Write it down. Find the lesson and the gift. And, please share in the comments how it felt to put that outside yourself instead of holding it in. Expressing these things will set you free.
p.s. Love this photo. It’s the front of a cafe/store in Paris called Merci. How sweet is that.