2019: A Year of Presence

In today’s world of social media and constant distraction, it’s easy to just float through a day without ever being present. But the question is, what does it mean to be present? First, let me back up.

I started the beginning stages of this journey in 2018. My goals in 2018, without me realizing it, were the beginning stages of the process of presence.

One goal was to consume less so I could produce more. The motivation behind consuming less was to take more time to meditate and reflect on what I’ve learned instead of just speeding through. In the process of setting goals, such as reading more books, you can lose sight of the reason you’re reading to begin with.

This was also the reason behind the goal of journaling in 2018. By forcing myself to journal, I would force myself to slow down and reflect on what had happened throughout the days and be intentional.

I’d wanted to go to bed earlier and slow down not only to hold to my morning routine, but also provide space in the evenings for quiet and reflection.

2019: A year of presence

So that leads me back to the first question: what does it mean to be present? The idea isn’t to just be there, as you might see in the definition of the word. But it’s for my whole body, mind, and spirit to be with the people I’m with. So here are some of the areas I want to be more present in 2019.

I need to be present in conversations.

With cell phones, distractions, and a busy world, it’s easy to always be looking for the next best thing. I’ve noticed that a lot of times that turns into half-attention during conversations and interactions with those you say you know and love. Whether it be a spouse or just an acquaintance at work, we owe people more of our attention. And with that attention, I plan to ask more questions. Connections are built by remembering what we’ve spoken about with others, and I find myself too often not remembering an event I’m being updated on.

This means less time interacting with the not-present. The “not-present” are our social media accounts, our texts/phone conversations, and generally anything that takes your attention away from the person or people in front of you. While it seems helpful to lookup the answer to the coldest temperature on record, there used to be a robust conversation surrounding this topic. The struggle helped you problem solve, enjoy someone’s humor, or even reflect on all the unknowns. Now with Google, we know the answer in 30 seconds and have moved onto the next thing. Don’t twist it, it’s not all bad, but I find in myself the addiction to know these answers is what drives my lack of presence. So, the only way to drive this desire to know means disconnecting as much as I can. I might even leave my cell phone home at times (SHRIEEEEEK).

I need to be present when learning.

I say learning because this includes reading, journaling, etc. Even with an effort to slow down in 2018, there’s still room for growth. I love to set goals, then push towards those goals. That’s great until those goals cause you to push towards the goal and ignore the moments you know you should stop and reflect.

A constant striving means less than ideal attention is put on the present status and too much on getting to the next thing. By slowing down and putting the focus on the here and now, I’m hoping to extract more value out of the learning I’m doing. If an idea hits while reading, why do I feel a need to push through to a chapter stop? Why not drop it that second and dig in? A $15 book that I speed through is worth only $15, but if I sit down and develop an idea that improves my life in one way or another, this $15 book becomes invaluable.

As this world becomes busier and busier, I really believe those who get a leg up will be those who separate themselves from the business and protect their thoughts and silence. What could you do to be more presen in your life today?