It is Sunday 7pm and I stand in the hall of amazing Ritz Carlton hotel in the very center of Moscow.
I have my few minutes of luxury living as I check in spacious, elegant and well-beyond-my-needs room, as I plan morning exercise, spa visit and delicious breakfast. I was looking forward to THIS “luxury living moment” for while. In fact I have chosen this moment to look forward to a few weeks ago. In reality I am on a 5 day exhaustive business trip that started on Sunday before lunchtime (leaving the weekend unfinished), going through two countries, storechecks, plant tours and business reviews with 20 other high level stakeholders. I will not have a minute for myself – all those 8 am start times and team dinners that last till 11 pm where you need to be your best ALL THE TIME. Exhausting. But I have chosen to FOCUS MY MIND on a moment and experiences that will help me live it with a smile and enjoy a little. So here I am with my “moment I looked forward to”. Everyone should have one…
Last week I was having lunch with my friends and I realized I was stressed. I had too much to do, I could not eat and I could not relax. My head was full with all work deliverables, Sasha’s end of year shows and school activities, plus many other typical family things. My friend Zoia asked when will the break come and I realized I am looking forward to a moment on July 7 when we go on vacation. The problem was that the moment was still 6 weeks ahead. I could not last that long motivating myself with something that would be 6 weeks ahead. So I thought a little about this. I realized I need to break it down into weeks, deliverables, pieces. Weeks with short weekends before or after business trips (but still with Friday evenings and Saturdays). I decided will celebrate each week and I will find something to look forward to in every week’s challenge.
It is proven with research that looking at the bright side keep you going longer. Optimists live 30 % longer while pessimists do not live towards average age. Apparently “balancing positivity with realism” is best approach – as demonstrated by many survivors of life threatening situations.
Neuroscience demonstrates that our brain reacts positively to positive expectations. Expectation of a future positive outcome lessens anxiety (research of 2003-2007). Even at infant age (3-7) expectations influences perceptions. So the key is to select the experiences that will be rewarding and focus our mind on those creating positive expectations. In simple words: FIND SOMETHING YOU CAN LOOK FORWARD TO IN A CHAIN OF EXPERIENCES AND FOCUS YOUR BRAIN AND OUR ENERGY ON EXPECTING THEM.
Few tips on finding this something to look forward to:
- Choose moments that YOU personally truly enjoy. We are playing this “mind game” with ourselves and it is important that you mind is aligned to “look forward to moment”.
- Size does not matter. It can be a small moment like 5 minute coffee and croissant before work or a big one like 3 months vacation.
- Visualize the details and imagine yourself there. Think of smells, sounds. Imagine how you will feel. Bring this image to yourself from time to time
- Talk about it with others to make it more real.
Here are some of my recent examples.
- Talking with your friends/socializing. Beyond this topic – socializing and spending time with people you like is good for you. There will be a separate post on this.
- 1 hour in sports club or spa. I typically exercise outdoors and do not have gym membership. But from time to time I buy few entries to the spa/sports club. I go and spend full hour with gym and hammam and I think of myself only. I really look forward to these occasional moments.
- Friday or Saturday night dinner with full family, at leisure and with good quality food.
- Going to a toy or book store with children, exploring choosing and buying some of the things that make them happy.
- I try to find some in every business trip. Either a fine dinner, or 1 hour in a gym in the morning, or a good night sleep or even airport shopping…. Any business trip can give you some of this.
Choose yours! Having something to look forward to in a short term (week or less) helps our mind to live through the days in the more hectic and demanding times.