I have been trying to write to you about looking back on the year you have had, but it just isn’t flowing.
I think because I was trying to write to you about something that I personally am not doing.
I am not doing a lot of looking back on 2014, nor am I doing a lot of looking forward to 2015, I am focused on a different point in time.
In Vail I have been doing a massive amount of personal development, and in particular I have been focused on training myself to be more present in the now.
I’ve taken my goals and planning that was focused way out in the future and collapsed it into simply being absorbed in taking the one action I am taking now, knowing it will lead to the next action.
And I’ve been training my mind to think less and be more.
Not all zen-like, sitting around cross-legged, but by practicing being absorbed in what I am doing right now.
So if I am skiing, I am just skiing.
I’m not thinking about the last bump or next bump or last run or next run, or anything else my mind might automatically wander to, I am just fully absorbed in my skiing.
If I am typing, I am feeling my fingers on the keys, seeing the words on the screen, fully absorbing myself in the experience in this moment.
It is not easy to do and it takes practice, yet in all my years of work, this is one topic that I have come to believe matters most to living well.
Training yourself to be in this moment is training yourself to be fully absorbed in what you are doing, which opens the doorway for peak experiences in your life.
It is a state for peak performance.
When you are in this moment, you are in the same state in which an athlete is in the zone, you are just right here, 100% focused, performing at your best in this moment.
This so-called Flow state is also a peak state for happiness, because, it is here, absorbed in what you are doing, you are completely full in your experience.
You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
There is some activity that you have where your mind just stops turning and you become fully absorbed in the experience of what you are doing.
For some it is running. Or skiing. Or yoga. Or martial arts. Or presenting. Or reading. Or tennis. Or climbing. It is in this moment where your mind fades away and you are just absorbed in doing what you are doing.
It feels good, doesn’t it?
This has been my main focus over the last month, taking everything I have learned on these topics, and building the practices to keep deepening my skill of being present.
It is one thing to look back on this year and celebrate it, or look forward to next and see all we might do, but in the end, this moment in time is all we can ever experience.
And the best times of every year you can experience right here, right now.
Do it now.
Pick just one experience you loved this year and go back into it. Where are you? Who is there? What are you doing? Really re-experience it fully as though it is happening now. You might even take five minutes to fully indulge in this experience.
You can do this again and again and again, enjoying it more each time, yet you can only ever do it now.
You can never go back in time but you can always right now re-experience your best times.
And the more you do this, it becomes automatic in you, so you don’t need to wait until the end of the year to think back on your year, but at a deeper level you automatically keep reminding yourself of your best times that are happening in the past and now.
The same is true with your future.
Whatever it is you see yourself doing next year, you will only ever be experiencing in that moment. In this moment you can plan and think about that experience, but if you are always planning and thinking about the future, when are you fully experiencing the moment?
It is like looking from the stage of a crowded rock concert and seeing all those people out there filming you on a small screen.
They are at the concert right now, in full living sound and color and they can fully experience it right now, or they can be there filming it so they can post it so other people will know they were there filming it so they can post it so other people will know they were there.
All we have is this moment in time. This is all we ever have.
With your kids right now. One day they will be grown and gone and living their busy lives, and maybe stopping by when they have time.
Your spouse. One day they will dead.
How much are you loving them now? Really, when you look in their eyes, how present are you? How much are you absorbed in them, like you might wish you were the day after they are gone.
Every moment is all we have. Good or bad or indifferent, it matters a whole bunch less when you are fully absorbed in this moment.
Now, with all this said, this doesn’t mean you give up on planning, sell your Ferrari, and sit around cross-legged.
It means you keep looking to the future, creating your grandest vision for your career and life, and be absorbed in taking your current step that is leading you there.
So you keep planning and you stay disciplined building and working your process, but at every moment in time your focus is on being fully absorbed in what you are doing right now.
This way you are staying in the present, living in Flow, yet you keep making progress towards the goals that truly matter to you.
Doing this, you might look back on this year and ask yourself questions like:
- What were my happiest moments?
- What did I do that enabled me to make progress on the goals that matter to me?
- How did I win? Where did I fail? What would I have done differently?
- How did I grow? How did I become happier or better or more skilled at living?
- What was the hardest thing I did? Where did I wimp out versus really going for it?
And looking forward to next year you might ask questions like:
- What is my grandest vision and my clear goals for 2015?
- Looking back at this point next year, how do I want to feel about my year?
- If I am to feel this way, what must I be able to see myself doing?
- How will the key processes I built in 2014 keep working for me next year?
- What one skill if I could learn would make the most difference?
Then, set your goals, set your process, and become absorbed in taking the current step you are taking right now.
Years ago when I turned pro, on my first client “coin,” on one side I had etched an image of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and one of his powerful ideas:
“A life well spent is long.”
It is not as important on how we are looking backwards and forwards on our years, but on how much we are now fully absorbed in living.