By Elisabeth Goodman, 29th May 2017
I’m enjoying a delightful few days in the Haut-Languedoc, trying my best to live “in the moment” in accordance with the principles of mindfulness, and meditation, and, inevitably, it has got me reflecting…
Living in the present is more rewarding than waiting for gratification from success
I passed the time at the airport on my way here watching a very funny, heart-warming and thought provoking video of Shawn Achor giving a TEDx talk.
His 5 simple exercises for creating a positive mind-set are indeed very simple and I can confirm, from my own experience, that they are very effective.
(These simple daily exercises include reflecting on 3 good (different) things that have happened; considering one of these in more detail; saying or emailing something nice to a different person; taking at least 15 minutes exercise; concentrating on your breath in and out for 2 mins.)
What struck a chord though, was Achor’s reminder of something that I had also read recently in a Harvard Business Review article (more on this below), that, too often, we wait to succeed at something as a milestone for being happy. “I’ll get this project completed and then I will be happy” or “I’ll just get these tasks done and then I’ll be satisfied”.
The tasks or projects could take a few moments, a day, a week or several months. It seems a shame to defer our happiness until then. They might not even happen, or be transformed into the next thing before we get a chance to finish them. Better surely to find a way to enjoy and gain satisfaction from the moment, from work in progress?
Perhaps we could pause periodically and ask ourselves: “What am I enjoying most about what I am doing now?”; “How could I make it even more enjoyable?”. We may be able to find satisfaction in even the most mundane, repetitive or stressful task. In fact this awareness, and self-awareness, will also help us to identify ways in which we could continuously improve our work and ourselves.
We may even be doing the thing we most enjoy, in which case we should definitely be celebrating, even if only with an inner smile!
Reaching for ever-deferred ideals of perfectionism is a recipe for unhappiness
In their excellent article in the May-June issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR), Jennifer Petriglieri and Gianpiero Petriglieri, discuss the stresses experienced by people at work who have been identified as talented “future leaders”.
The first moments of recognition past, they find themselves driving themselves, and being driven by others, to conform to some ideal image of the future leader that they will become. (By the way, everything they say in the article could relate to any talented person, not just a future leader.)
Opportunities to explore and experiment, to perform in any more individual, divergent, way to this ideal, become few and far between. It becomes increasingly difficult to reveal the more rounded aspects of their personality, or anything that might be perceived as “weakness”.
Not surprisingly, the author’s suggested remedies include valuing the present. In fact, they suggest that this is the most important remedy for “breaking the curse”, and that individuals must make what they are doing now matter.
Their other two suggested remedies are to be authentic i.e. bring your whole self to work, rather than just the aspects that are supposed to reflect your talent; and to “own your talent” in such a way that you recognise it as something to be developed in ways that can include help from others.
There is definitely happiness to be found from living in the moment, rather than waiting for deferred gratification from something that may or may not happen.
Which of the above approaches have you tried, or will you try? What other approaches you have found to be successful?
About the author
Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.) Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.
RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).
Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.
She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she is a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.