Earlier in the year we spoke on the importance of mindfulness in our busy, digital world. Unfortunately, many of us have grand intentions at the beginning of the year, eating healthily and meditating and generally trying to get the year off to a good start, but after a few weeks that dedication peters out.
Businesses (and some individuals) like to run quarterly reviews on performance, such as how your investments performed in the first quarter. Why not do a quick lifestyle audit as well? How mindful are your various choices and can you regain the passion you had for these goals when the year began?
The benefit of quarterly mindfulness checks
The traditional New Year’s resolution actually puts a lot of pressure on oneself – the unreasonable expectation for someone to drum up enough passion, willpower and enthusiastic discipline in the beginning of a year that must last them 12 months. How many of us would consider operating companies that way? Or expect our financial advisor to know exactly how to help us all year through various changes after only one short chat in January? Far more reasonable is the idea of making the decision to effect small changes day by day, in the moment, and to schedule a loose quarterly check-in.
If you think quarterly mindfulness check-in’s are a good idea but don’t know where to start, or perhaps even what mindfulness really looks like, here are some questions to start you off:
Question 1: Do I spend my time and thoughts on what really matters to me?
Mindfulness posits that both the past and the future don’t exist and all you have is now. So, in the now, what kind of life are you living?
Many of us sweat the small stuff by fixating on things which aren’t our true priority, like stressing over our golf handicap or our waist size when what we truly care about is being a good parent, for example.
Stephen Covey in his classic The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People puts it this way: ‘imagine your funeral in detail. Your wife, children or family, work colleagues and a group you belonged to are all going to say a few words on what you achieved in your life as an individual, a family member, a worker and as a member of society. What would you want them to say? Are you living that?’
Many of us aren’t. For your lifestyle audit, jot down in a notebook what you think on and how much time you spend with your family vs work, on Facebook vs reading a book, outside versus inside etc. Are your thought and time investments reflecting what is truly valuable and meanginful to you? What could you do differently in this next quarter?
Question 2: Am I spending my money on what really matters?
Similarly, how are your funds being spent? Many of us spend significant funds on mindlessness which has a numbing effect, like too much junk food, retail therapy and empty entertainment. Mindfulness is about looking at what you really love and spending money on that – like on a family vacation or yoga lessons. It’s also about investing in things which will increase your mindfulness and mental ability, like books you can learn from or a stimulating new hobby. Spend less money and time on mindlessness and more on the opposite, and you’ll naturally find yourself feeling more energised, present and awake.
Question 3: Am I investing in myself as an asset?
Time and money are important resources, but they mean nothing without the capacity to use them wisely. How well are you feeding your body? How well are you feeding your mind? Are you getting the medical recommended amount of sleep and exercise for a healthy life? In short, are you adequately maintaining the asset that is you?
Almost all of us can improve in some way in this arena and are often set off course by the distractions that life presents. Set yourself some goals to carry out in the next quarter. These are most effective when small and simple, like unplugging from all screens and electronic devices 30 minutes before bed or like spending 5 minutes a day sitting outside enjoying nature when you have your tea.
Pick a couple and go for it.