Written by: Brian Smith
We have all heard the advice about planning for the future. Without a plan, how do you know where you will be going or how you will get there? I subscribe to planning, but I’m going to outline why planning should be done with the present in mind.
Yesterday and every other day that preceded it are a brick in your personal foundation. You can call on that experience and weigh it against all other experiences to guide you.
I also subscribe to structure. I believe that structure enables us to be more efficient by instilling in each of us habits that will help us succeed.
If we use the present to create structure, that creates efficiencies for us in the future, and in turn our future present will be better enabled to make decisions.
I begin each business day with reading. I read publications that are important to my company and our clients. I also reflect on the immediate past and make note of any remarkable situations whereby I may reinforce or add to my foundation of experience and knowledge. Some might think this takes up too much time or is cumbersome, and at times it can be.
Most often I find things become cumbersome or test my patience when I have not given myself fully to the present. I find myself thinking about something else, which distracts me from that which should be most important; the scheduled issue at hand.
I know. How do you tell someone you cannot take a call or you cannot answer that text message or email; you don’t! Create an environment where you can remove the distraction. Turn off messaging, hit the DND on your phone, shut your door, add a Do Not Disturb Sign.
Simplistic, yes! You control your situation, that situation is the present.
When we use the present to plan for the future, we create opportunity for us to bring our full-self to bear on the task. Your ability to focus on each issue will become infinitely easier, and your ability to call on the history of your past experience will be at its best.
Leaders will create these opportunities for their team. As the team engages in the present, a transformation will occur. Collaboration becomes more focused and collective experience can be brought to each issue. How many times have you been in a group setting and one or more people allowed an outside distraction? How is it handled? Does the entire team stop? Do you continue without that person? Do they nod at the group and encourage you to move on, while attempting to maintain two different communications?
Not allowing interruptions in group settings will be met with negativity. You will hear all manner of excuse for why the task at hand is not as important as what could possibly interrupt it. I say that to be successful you must give your all to the present. When you return that call or text, do it when you can give it your undivided attention.
The next question is always, when do I do that? As I have noted, structure allows us to prepare for the present. Set aside regular personal time to read email, look at text messages, and listen and return calls. Use that time for what it was intended and you will find that over time, your present will be more focused and your past will be filled with more success.
The present offers you the best chance to make good decisions. Deciding that you will begin to introduce structure is a present decision. Deciding to use this moment to set aside time to reduce distractions is a present decision. Following through on your commitment to yourself is living in the present.
Your future is your choice. Use the present wisely and you will begin to see changes. Be consistent and inconsistency will become the exception; success will then be part of your past, present, and future.