As a kid, with life in an unstable home, being mindful wasn’t on my radar. The drama often prompted me to go hiking in the nearby California hills. The quiet sounds of my steps in the sandy dirt, my breath or a slight wind across the sagebrush brought peace.
Even in peaceful places, the varying terrain brought unexpected challenges. In my book, “Covered From Above – A Shield From Injury or Death”, I wrote about a time as a young boy on one of those hikes. All was fine until I realized I sat near a large diamondback rattlesnake.
If you’ve spent any time in business, industry, or watched the news, you know there are plenty of snakes out there… of a different kind. Challenges, setbacks, and unexpected turns can leave even the most driven professionals feeling weary.
Have no fear. Regardless of whatever path you’re on, by cultivating mindful practices, you can navigate the hurdles, emerge stronger, resilient, and be ready to conquer your next goal.
Instead of viewing unknowns as challenges, reframe them as opportunities for growth. Every hiker finds unknown terrain along their path. They don’t say, “Oh no! Rocks ahead, I’m going home!” They maneuver each part of the hike, one step at a time, and each challenge strengthens their skill and confidence.
Try this: Imagine facing a tight deadline for a demanding project. Instead of panicking, view it as a chance to test your time management skills and resourcefulness. Approach it with a “bring it on!” attitude, knowing you’ll emerge stronger and efficient. After deciding to see yourself as capable, you’ll notice how many things seem easy.
Stress can cloud our judgment and hijack our emotions. When facing a challenge, take a mindful pause. Focus on your breath with a slow, deep inhalation, hold it for four seconds, then slowly exhale and hold for four seconds. This simple process can calm your mind. By taking a de-stress moment, you can approach life with more clarity and focus. Visit my abdominal breath page that describes how and why it works for you. Get the free abdominal breath bookmark as a reminder. Or, get a free confidence and relaxation audio.
Reframe the Narrative
The human mind can do incredible things. Sometimes, it doesn’t behave and it can be problematic when we overthink issues, amplify negative thoughts, and fuel self-doubt. This is a time to challenge the negative thoughts. In a recent article, I wrote about the false narrative of the imposter syndrome.
If you’re unsure about how to reframe thoughts, the article has a good example to help.
When challenges show up, we can get worried, stressed, and our thoughts spin. You can counter negative thinking by focusing on positive experiences. I know that’s not rocket science, but it’s just that easy. I remember hearing about gratitude many years ago, and it seemed silly… until I tried it. It was a simple matter of recalling a list of things I was grateful for.
When amid worry and stress, thinking about being gratefulness seems like an unhelpful exercise. I grew up in a violent and abusive place, and that thinking didn’t even seem possible. In situations like that, you need to get down to basics:
Can you walk, can you talk, can you see, can you hear? Is there someone in your life you appreciate? Did something good happen that brought enjoyment to your life? (Even if it was a month ago, it was still a pleasant experience you had.)
I can almost hear some folks out there saying, “Yeah… but those are all small things”
Okay. For the sake of perspective, imagine that you wake up tomorrow morning and suddenly you CANNOT do any of those things. Allow yourself to imagine how your like could suddenly become limited. Imagine the people you appreciate in your life are gone. Your life, your career, your ability to interact has all changed.
Now… how grateful are you to have the gifts to walk, talk, see, hear, or enjoy special people?
It can happen just like that. I remember waking one morning and finding I lost my left side. My thoughts were confused and speech was fading away from a stroke. Those moments are not on your calendar to prepare for them, and they are scary.
I’m grateful that I’ve recouped most of my health, just like how I got away from a rattlesnake two feet from me as a kid. I’m grateful.
Gratefulness is Not a Weakness
It’s a superpower we have within us to shift our mindset. I’m not sure why so many see gratefulness as a shortcoming or a sign of being soft. I don’t believe our purpose is to live by ego in a stressed mode.
That condition explains why so many are unkind toward one another in our world today.
I’ve had clients attempt to humor me and say they’ll add gratitude practice to their lives. Once I give them homework, they see value and the mental and emotional shift.
Try this: Before bed, write three things you’re grateful for. The process of thinking about it and writing is kinesthetic, and it helps you feel it. It could be something big or small.
Why at night?
When you go to sleep at night, your subconscious mind is active. Be sure to feed your thoughts with good things. Your subconscious works to prepare your attention to see more of those things.
When you see and feel more things you’re thankful for, your stress and worry fades.
A Support Network
Unless you were born on an island, you would do well to have a support network. Even animals know that. On an island, they’ll partner with that pesky human trying to climb a coconut tree. Regardless of the experiences in your life, whether challenging or filled with happiness, supportive people are helpful. When things are tough, they can offer support and guidance. When life is great, you can share positive excitement that helps everyone around you.
Schedules and changing project deadlines can force us to focus on an upcoming timeline, and not the present moment, and the constant race against time leaves us disconnected. Practice mindfulness exercises like mindful walking, eating, or simply observing your surroundings. By focusing on the present, you become more attentive to your thoughts, feelings, and needs. The focused awareness allows you to respond with greater clarity and intention when challenges arise.
Try this: If you’re feeling stressed and need a mental reset, get up and take a walk. I used to work at a toxic place where I was frequently dodging snakes. When stress levels and blood pressure increased and focus decreased, I’d take two 15-minute walks a day.
With the two allotted times for breaks, I used them. After each walk, I returned refreshed and energized. On days with rain or snow, I’d take the stairs to another floor, walk to the other side of the building, take the stairs and return.
Even a little refreshment is better than none.
On days when you have more time, consider a walk in nature. Wherever you walk, focus on the sound of your steps, the feel of the wind on your skin, plants, trees, birds, the look of the sky, or the colors you notice. The time you allow yourself is for a mental reset and physical refreshment. Don’t think about work or projects. By grounding yourself in the present moment, you’ll break the cycle of a busy mind, or worry. You’ll tap into a calmer, more resourceful state.
Celebrate Small Wins
Whether it is projects or goals, it’s better to celebrate small milestones along the way, rather than wear yourself out waiting until the end.
Many years ago, I trained for a half-marathon. I had a knee problem right before but felt I could make it through. Before that race, I visualized running through the finish line. That was my goal. The day of the race, I stepped out to find the temperature dropped from the 50s down to 9-degrees. (Yeah… that was crazy)
As a large group of other crazy runners stood out there waiting for the gun, we looked forward to generating heat. The gun sounded and off we went. 3-miles into it, I was still cold, and the knee wasn’t liking the freezing temperatures. The idea of 10-miles to go was looking dismal, so I mentally split the race into smaller goals of 2-mile segments.
With each succeeding portion, I focused on breathing, my stride, the landing and roll-out of each step, posture and the swing of each arm. Each 2-mile portion became a win, 5-miles… 7-miles… 9-miles, and I found I warmed up and with only 4-miles left, the end was near with a post-race pancake breakfast awaiting me.
Whether a project or personal goal, create smaller, realistic milestones. Then, you can celebrate the small wins. You’ll find your motivation and confidence increases, and you’re reinforcing positive behaviors for the future.
Self-Care Brings Balance
When you prioritize self-care, you create a sense of balance.
- Do you get at least 7-hours of rest each night?
- Do you stay hydrated?
- Do you engage in physical activity for at least 150 minutes a week?
- Do you eat a well-balanced diet?
- Do you take time each week for YOU with your personal interests?
- Do you interact with others each week in healthy and enjoyable relationships?
If these are part of your life, then you’re on track to create a healthy body, mind and a foundation for resilience. If this is not part of your life, this is a good list to consider how to add balance.
We all make mistakes and, when error occurs, don’t dwell on it. It’s easy to put our failures in the spin-cycle of our minds. In my earlier article, “Imposter Syndrome – the False Narrative”, I discuss how dwelling on fault is dangerous for your confidence and overall sense of resilient living.
I recommend you read this to be sure this is not an issue for you. Consider past missteps and forgive yourself. Focus on ways to handle situations better in the future.
Every day offers new opportunities for growth. See them as stepping stones on your journey to becoming a better version of yourself. Stay curious, embrace new challenges, and adopt a habit of discovering new opportunities for continuous improvement. You’ll become a lifelong learner that stays engaged, motivated, and adaptable in the face of change.
Try this: When faced with a new technology challenge, consider enrolling in an online course, find guidance from a mentor, or attend industry workshops. Invest in your learning and you’ll increase your ability to see and take advantage of new opportunities.
One of the best things I’ve done to enhance my continuous learning is my collection of Kindle books through Kindle Unlimited. When I need to learn more about a topic, I look to see what’s already written. When planning a book project, I do the same and look for areas where I can add something different.
Reading increases your cognitive and creative thinking. The program offers free unlimited reading and opportunities to learn (There is a small monthly subscription). Here’s a screenshot of my digital content library. As of today, I have 11,788 books. By next week, it will be higher.
I show this not to brag about some large ebook collection, but to emphasize this as a useful and affordable resource for personal development. With books normally priced between $9.99 to $15.99 or higher, add that up. Reading and learning at your pace is a lot cheaper than some one-time courses.
Applying a Mindful Approach Makes All the Difference
By integrating these mindful approaches to your life, you can transform challenges into opportunities for growth and resilience. While none of these are magic bullets, when applied, you create successful habits. When it comes down to it, the only things that holds us back is ourselves. Even with the noise that surrounds us in this world, you can take proactive steps to create a life that works for you.
About the Author
He has earned a national reputation for his Transformative Life Centering work with clients from across the nation. His unique approach helps clients remove underlying fears and triggers, and then, through coaching, helps them pursue and accomplish life and career goals.
He provides Coaching and Hypnotherapy sessions remotely through Zoom. If you have challenges and are ready to move past them, Contact him Here to create the life change you desire.
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