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Mind and Purpose

A BEAUTIFUL MIND

One of the most effective ways for professionals to make a difference in their mindfulness is to develop mental routines that reduce mind clutter and increase focus. As there are endless sources of stress that can clutter their minds, it is important that professionals learn to utilize the Killer App of mental routines, breathing. Studies show that people who practice yogic breathing three times a week see significant improvement in their stress levels and improved cognitive functions. The same benefits can be achieved by mindfulness meditation, which requires people to close their eyes and focus on their breathing.

With the average person having up to 70,000 thoughts per day, it is not surprising that professionals’ minds get cluttered with regrets of the past, overwhelming responsibilities of the present, and anxiety about the future. Consequently, it is important that they adopt routines to navigate the different time frames of the mind. Examples of these routines include:

*Past tense: Reduce regret and remorse. One effective routine to help professionals stop dwelling on past mistakes includes three steps:

  1. Breathe. Professionals who employ focused breathing meditation are shown to reduce their regrets about decisions that did not work out and instead focus on the options that are currently available to them.

  2. Conduct a lessons learned analysis by determining what was supposed to happen, what actually happened, and what they will do differently the next time.

  3. Take the correct action.

*Present tense: Playing with presence. To build attention muscles and learn to focus on the present moment, an individual must choose a routine task in which to be fully present. For example, when washing the dishes, people can train themselves to pay attention to the temperature of the water and other aspects of the experience.

*Future tense: Visualize the worry away. In order to overcome any worries about the future, professionals must recognize their worrying thought patterns and establish visualization routines.

IN RIGHT RELATIONSHIP

Today, many people’s personal and professional relationships suffer from the nonstop distractions of smartphones. Professionals pay too much attention to their smartphones, which causes the people they are supposed to be engaging with to feel unimportant. Poor relationships with others can affect professionals’ results, health, and humanity. Consequently, it is very important that professionals learn to listen, which is the Killer App of relational routines. There are three different kinds of listening styles:

1. Transient listening. This style focuses on the listener rather than the speaker. Most transient listeners are distracted and impatient, and utilize “yes” or “no” questions.

2. Transactional listening. This type of listening focuses on the person talking and has a goal of solving the problem at hand. It is purposeful and focused and comprises open-ended questions.

3. Transformational listening. This is the most effective type of listening that focuses equally on the listener and speaker. It is a creative and connected kind of listening that has the goal of learning more. Transformational listening is the mindfulness alternative that occurs when professionals are fully present and attentive during a conversation.

Outside of transformational listening, professionals must find ways to improve their connections with other people in their lives, including:

*Life partners. In order for professionals to maintain strong connections with their spouses or life partners, they must prioritize and schedule regular time together.

*Children. Professionals must put a greater emphasis on the quality of time they spend with their children than the quantity of time. This can often mean eliminating distractions like smartphones.

*Family. Professionals can ensure connectedness with their extended family members by establishing traditions with them, such as annual camping trips or weekly phone calls.

*Friends. Professionals can maintain connectedness with their friends by calling them frequently or taking the time to write them handwritten notes.

*Colleagues. Establishing relational routines with colleagues is essential to professionals’ overall well-being. One effective relational routine to adopt is responding promptly every time a colleague reaches out.

WHAT’S YOUR PURPOSE HERE, ANYWAY?

By developing spiritual routines, professionals can better identify and stay connected with the larger purpose of their lives. The Killer App of spiritual routines is reflection. By taking time to reflect, professionals can slow their minds down enough to understand what is going on with their intentions and actions. Stillness and silence are key to reflection and gaining personal insight. Additionally, there are five routines of reflection that professionals can consider integrating into their lives:

1. Taking time for gratitude. Many professionals are so overwhelmed and overworked that they feel nothing is going right. It is important that they counteract these negative thoughts by taking deep breaths and asking themselves what they are grateful for.

2. Centering through visual focal points. This routine prompts professionals to look for visual cues to remind them of what they are grateful for. Professionals can also create or collect items that will serve as visual focal points that trigger moments of reflection.

3. Reflective reading. By taking time to read inspirational or challenging material, professionals can make important connections in their own lives.

4. Repetitive prayer or meditation. Repetitive prayer or breathing-based meditation can help quiet the mind by giving it something to focus on.

5. Journaling. By journaling regularly, professionals can gain important insights into how they are feeling.

MAKING IT WORK

It is one thing for professionals to have routines; it is another for them to follow through on them. The following tips can help professionals follow through on their daily routines more effectively:

*Be aware of performance patterns and operating rhythms. Professionals must adjust their routines to fit with their natural performance patterns and operating rhythms. Professionals who are not morning people, for example, should not plan on doing cardio at 5:00 AM.

*Pick routines that are easy and likely to make a difference. When choosing routines, professionals must start with ones that will easily fit into their lives.

*Schedule the big rocks first. Any routines that ensure professionals can show up at their best and facilitate their desired outcomes in the domains of home, work, and community are big rocks that should be scheduled first.

*Master the inner monologue. Professionals must learn to transform the inner monologues that tell them it is acceptable to skip routines into triggers that push them to get things done.

*Recruit some buddies. To ensure they stay on track with their routines, professionals must recruit some accountability partners to check in with on a regular basis.

*Review Life GPS weekly. Professionals are much more likely to stay true to their intentions if they write down how they are at their best, the routines that reinforce these behaviors, and the outcomes they are looking for.

*Celebrate wins. When people recognize one thing every day that they have accomplished, they are more likely to stay motivated and engaged. By acknowledging all of their own efforts, professionals can avoid feeling as though they are not getting anywhere.

*Scale back. When professionals take on one too many routines, they upset their ideal operating rhythm. The goal is to find just the right number of easy-to-accomplish routines.

*Create leverage. Professionals must look for routines that create leverage in other areas of their lives. For example, while walking is a routine that can potentially benefit professionals’ physical and mental health, it can also have spiritual and relational benefits if it is used as a time for reflection or an opportunity to spend quality time with a loved one.

WHAT ARE YOU IN IT FOR?

The premise of the Life GPS is that mindful, high-quality actions lead to mindful, high-quality outcomes. In order for professionals to take the right actions, they must first consider the outcomes that matter most to them in the following three arenas of life:

1. Home. Home is the foundation for everything else professionals do in their lives. Therefore, it is important that they determine which intangible outcomes at home are most important to them as individuals. More specifically, they must understand exactly what kind of presence they wish to exhibit with their families and significant others.

2. Work. In order for professionals to achieve mindful outcomes at work, they must first define what true success means to them. Beyond their own personal ideas of success, professionals should also consider engaging in transformative work. Although it requires a lot of energy, time, and attention, transformative work is highly rewarding, as it aims to make positive, lasting change for others.

3. Community. As professionals develop mindfulness, they must consider what outcomes they want to create in their communities. Professionals can start this process by identifying the people and issues they are passionate about. Next, they must consider how they can use their talents to make positive impacts.

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