2019 is here and I’m going to have a new word to focus on this year. I’m not abandoning my word for 2018, which was patience, because even with a whole year of practice patience is still a weak spot for me but I am going to adopt a new one. This year the word is present. With the world literally at my fingertips I am finding it more and more common for my mind to be somewhere other than where my body is. It might be at work, on some website, in the future as I look at my calendar, in the past as I look at pictures, or in someone else’s life entirely as I scroll through social media. I’m not going to tell you to throw away your phone, get rid of Netflix, and delete all your social media accounts but I am going to propose the idea that what’s in front of you right now might be just as interesting or important as what that person from high school that you kind of remember had for dinner.
I think there is a time and a place for the mindless scroll or binge watching a TV show, for the record I love watching TV, but it is also important to engage in the present. I am notorious for bouncing from idea to idea not focusing on what is right in front of me. I am often focused on the future and I am easily distracted. When that phone buzzes or my e-mail dings I jump on the opportunity to abandon the present and enter another world.
What got me thinking about the word present for this year was when I was playing with my daughter the other day and I kept disengaging to respond to a text thread. Now in that moment it is safe to say that nothing in the whole world was more important than being present and giving my daughter my undivided attention. Realizing this, I have been working on removing the distractions when I’m playing with her, so I can be fully focused.
As I started to think about this, I began to realize just how often I was not in the present moment and how it was probably having a negative impact that I didn’t realize. During my morning workouts I will often stop and check my phone. At work not only do I allow the distractions to take me away from my present task I embrace them as a way to procrastinate. Riding in the car I will have my head in my phone instead of talking to my wife or looking out the window.
Just like with patience being present will be a struggle since I have the attention span of a puppy, but I suspect that if I work at it, I will be more productive, appreciate my surroundings more, and most importantly give my daughter my undivided attention. If you would like, try being more present in your life and let me know how it goes. If you have word for 2019 reach out and let me know. I would love to hear what you are focusing on. I will report back on how being present works for me.
For the record I only got distracted once while writing this post, resisted about seven buzzes on phone, and have not checked my email once even though the dings tempted me so.