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I have always admired people who are truly “present”. There is something so powerful and inspiring about people who are able to stay in the moment, who are not distracted by the constant pulls for our attention, and who are not simply reacting to the world around them. I believe that being present is critical in leading a meaningful and fulfilled life. As someone who works in a fast moving tech startup, while trying to juggle my own projects and leading a life outside of work, I often notice my mind racing — am I doing enough? How about this other solution? Should I have responded this way? Am I focusing on the right things?
One of my goals this year is to be more aware and present. This can mean different things, but in a work context, it means trying to focus on what actually matters, prioritizing my well-being, and being a cultural maker rather than a culture taker. To achieve more presence, I have been trying to establish new daily habits which have been immensely helpful.
1. Start your Day with Some Reflection (5 Minutes)
Spend 5 minutes in the beginning of your day thinking about the top 2–3 things that will make your day impactful and great. It is very easy to wake up and be in reactive mode all day long, but I have found that I am much more present when I am intentional about what I want to achieve and how I want to show up. For work, think about the top 2–3 things that are actually important and will move the needle.
2. Schedule Breaks
I used to just work until I had some time off where there were no meetings and I was “done” with whatever I was working on and thinking about. For a few months, exercise sort of fell off and became a last priority, and I found myself unintentionally missing meals and spending too many hours in front of my screen. I now schedule short walk times, and exercise time in advance, and truly prioritize this time. After all, well being is the foundation upon which everything, including high performance and creativity, rests.
3. What Went Well + Learnings Journal (5 Minutes)
At the end of my day, usually in the evening, I have been journaling quickly about what went well and key learnings. Even jotting down 1–2 quick bullet points has been very helpful. Have I voiced my opinion? Did I actually listen? Maybe I structured my argument better or helped a colleague? What are key learnings? Maybe I can try to be a little more strategic next time etc. This has been very helpful in boosting my confidence and helping me become more aware of my strengths, while quickly noticing potential areas of improvements and opportunities for growth.
4. Gratitude Journal (5 Minutes)
There is a ton of evidence that being grateful is critical for happiness. Even spending 1 minute to think about what I am grateful for has been so helpful — whether I’m grateful for the weather, my partner’s support, a great meal I had, something at work, etc. There is always more to do and achieve, but there is beauty and power in enjoying the journey and being grateful along the way