It’s nothing new that we get distracted every day, every hour and every minute in this world if we give into our subconscious desire. You don’t have to stop all your (bad) habits right now, a few simple hacks might help to become more grounded every now and then.
If you sometimes caught yourself asking “What am I doing right now?” or “What’s the next thing to do?” you might lack some clarity.
Clarity on the goals you have. Clarity for the next tasks and steps. Clarity what you want from life.
Don’t worry, it’s totally normal. The important part here is to understand your situation and give your head a bit more space – and we can achieve more awareness instantly with super basic changes that you can apply today.
1. Your First Thought
The first step in becoming more aware of yourself and everything around you is by starting the day with the right intention.
Most of us are used to waking up and immediately checking their phone for missed calls or text messages. We are not yet awake 1 minute and already start the reactive mode. Not the smartest idea.
Although you might argue with yourself that it’s important to check your phone, it’s not. It’s an addiction and we have to confess it.
The world won’t stop spinning because you’ve been absent from your phone for more than 6 hours, so leave it there for a few more minutes (best hours if you can).
Instead of being reactive, become active and set the tone for your day. Before you jump out of bed, put both feet on the floor and feel the ground. Only for a few seconds to become aware of your situation.
Then think about the day ahead, what would you like to achieve? Would you like to meet some people or call an old friend?
Fly over the day very roughly in your brain and paint a picture of what you want to do. The whole process of setting your feet on the ground and thinking can be as short as 5-10 seconds, but it’s important to make a short pause before getting out of bed.
You have now grounded yourself first thing in the morning and already set the tone for everything that might follow today. You are prepared for the day, because you had the intention that all of this might happen.
Tomorrow when you get up don’t care about your phone or who might have missed you.
Ground yourself, start your day with the right intention.
One central part of my morning routine since a few years is meditation. I can’t remember why but at some point I just started it without any expectations. Turns out it became one of my key habits to be more aware everyday and also to achieve anything including fighting my fear of flying.
There’s a lot written about why meditation is so important, 500 reasons to have your best morning ever and so on. The thing is, don’t care about all the opinions once in a while and just do it.
What’s the worst thing that could happen?
You lose a few minutes in the morning. You wanted to cut the smartphone time anyway, right?
Meditation doesn’t have to be something mystical or religious. It simply helps to become more aware of your body and your mind. And by training this awareness everyday with only 10 minutes, you will become more mindful throughout the day.
Finally, mindfulness helps you to stay more in the here and now. You learn to stop the spiralling thoughts that won’t get you anywhere. You learn to step out of the circle and pause before doing the next thing with more intention.
Don’t expect any miracles but simply 10 minutes of silence and awareness tomorrow morning. Start right now by downloading the Headspace app and just do it.
3. What’s Important Right Now
If you lack clarity, chances are high you have a lot going on in your life right now. We all know that feeling.
Sometimes everything seems to be important and needs to be done. And at some point, even small tasks become important because you’ve lost the ability to prioritise correctly.
Between all the clutter of thoughts your brain has no space to make wise decisions. If you can notice that pattern, pause.
The only way to get back into your normal state is to stop for a moment and ask:
What’s important right now?
If you’re in a hurry you might be tempted to just answer with “everything is important brain”!
But dig deeper and truly think about what you do, what else needs to be done and what is actually important in this hour or minute.
If you can refocus your brain on one task, it will become more peaceful and relax instantly.
Concentrate on the moment and the work you do right now. This is important for now, nothing else.
4. Walk and Think
Due to the changes of our modern society we tend to sit on a chair at a table for 8 or more hours, 5 days a week. That’s not only bad for our body, it’s also not really helpful for giving our mind some clarity.
When you feel overwhelmed by thoughts and lack clarity, try this simple approach: Walk.
If you’re at home, walk through your flat. If you’re at a job, walk to the kitchen and back. And repeat the process while you let your mind think about the current problems.
It’s amazing how good it feels to just move the body and power up your internal engines. This process will reflect on your thoughts and you can unwind tough situations more easy!
When I’m alone at home it’s not uncommon to see me walking around like Sokrates talking to myself.
5. Be There
The last tip is not only applicable for getting more clarity but also to live a happier live in general. It’s about being present in the moment more often.
When you go down a street, are your body and mind in the same place? Or is your head working on some other stuff?
This is a general problem, and especially when we have a lot on the table we fall back to spiralling thoughts about deadlines and getting fired. Or not earning enough to pay the rent.
The single best thing to do is to become grounded again. Get back into the moment. This doesn’t require intense training or years of meditation, you can start it right now.
Try to feel the ground below your feet, try to experience what you hear, smell, see and feel. Try to capture the moment.
Do this whenever you feel overwhelmed and you will be immediately transported back into the here and now. Your mind can’t focus on 2 things at the same time, so your previous thoughts will disappear instantly.
Once you are back and grounded, focus again on what’s important right now. And just do the best you can.
Because the small steps you take now will eventually solve all the future problems your head was worrying about all the time.