Getting a Different, Better, Clearer ‘Lens’
When I think of my career, I often wonder if I should make the word plural. Is it still called a career when you have ‘shifted gears’ and worked in vastly different industries (more than once, by the way), or is that when you switch to describing your professional history as careers? Regardless of the most correct terminology, I am continually amazed at the clarity I gain as I work my way further and further into my years as a professional.
Seeing through Others’ Eyes
Currently, in order to do the wonderfully incredible work I have the privilege of doing, I must travel by plane several times each month. I notice something happens to me when I sit in airports waiting to board flights. My senses go into overdrive. I see and hear so much more than I do during a typical, work-in-my-home-area kind of day. I observe more thoroughly. I watch human interactions in real time, and sometimes they’re not even happening in a language I understand (body language and tone can say so much)!
I see families hugging and crying at sending a loved one off to who-knows-where. (Luckily, I also get to see the reunions take place when I walk to baggage claim at the end of my trips!) I see strangers make kind, “I understand” eye contact with mothers dealing with less-than-happy little ones. I hear people speaking respectfully when original plans don’t always work out (Can you say ‘maintenance issue’?). On a recent trip when a flight cancelled late one night, I rode on a shuttle bus with other stranded travelers to the hotels the airline set up for us. As a young, 20-ish-year-old man was relaying his frustration and fear to a parent over the phone, a fellow passenger took the time to tell him she understood his frustration and that everything would end up working out in the morning. The relief on his face spoke loudly of his appreciation for her words.
So what happens to me as I witness the goodness of others? It fills me up with motivation and compassion and positivity and belief that the majority of people have good intentions.
The question is, why don’t I have this same clarity in the course of my no-travel days? Maybe I don’t allow myself to slow down and ‘take it all in’.
Maybe you are in the same boat. I know, I know—there is important work to be done… and not enough hours in the day to get it all accomplished. And people can sometimes be jerks… and did I mention life is busy?! I get it; I really do. I also know that, no matter what important work we do each day, there is always time to stop, slow down, and look at life through a different, better, clearer ‘lens’. Here’s how to can make it happen:
1. Unleash yourself from technology.
Wait! Before you say no, I don’t mean we should turn off and tune out for the whole day. Can you commit, though, to NOT using your smart phone as a wake-up security blanket? Can you start your day by meditating or connecting with loved ones or getting your brain warmed up with a good workout or a good crossword puzzle rather than by getting your thumbs moving on the screen? Can you check email just a few times a day rather than all day long? Just think of how much more you could accomplish by not being ‘chained’ to technology non-stop. Trust me- the world is a pretty cool place to be when we look around and don’t worry about the constant pings coming our way.
2. Commit to 2 to 4 mission-critical tasks each day.
We all have our to-do lists, our schedules, tasks, projects, and appointments. And we usually have more listed than what we can possibly accomplish in one day. This tip is all about prioritizing. What are the top two to four that you MUST achieve today? How can you ‘turn off’ the rest of the world in order to get them accomplished? And on the good days- the really amazing, fabulous, productive days- it’s okay to push yourself to accomplish even more as long as you also take time for tip #3.
3. Prioritize YOU into each day.
It’s a sad state of affairs that many people I have the privilege of meeting through my coaching and training at Bright Side Training Solutions don’t take any time for themselves on a daily basis. Many of them don’t allow themselves any ‘Me Time’ for weeks—or months—on end.
We all try really hard to do what life expects of us. We show up at work each day; we pay our bills; we transport the kids from here to there and everywhere, and we support them in their many endeavors; we get the household chores done on the weekend so we can then… start all over again.
It’s time to hop off the hamster wheel, and take control of your life! Do something- even if it’s just ONE thing- each day that you love, something that allows you to view your world through that different, better, clearer ‘lens’. Take a sculpting class; lie down in the grass and find animals (or furniture or cars or whatever you love) in the clouds; play hopscotch or Chalk the Rabbit (If you don’t know about this game, you’re missing out!) with your kids or grandkids or the neighbor kids; read a book by your favorite author or about a favorite topic; list three things you’re grateful for each day; try a new recipe; and the list goes on and on and on! Just be sure to have Me Time every. single. day.
My final tip and the purpose of this entire piece is this: Your life is yours to live, and you only get one shot at it. Airports, and the people within them, give me clarity and allow me to get back on track when my lens gets blurry. Your clarity may be found elsewhere, but if you’re reading this and are realizing you don’t ever have the clarity you need to live a better life, it’s time to add Mission Critical Item #1 to your list: Clean my lens and find my clarity!
This article by Tracy Bianco was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.