The time between Christmas and New Year’s always seems like such a weird week – there are no rules, time doesn’t exist, you can eat cookies at every meal, but (somehow) deadlines don’t magically disappear. My daughter and I had free rein today to play with all of her new toys, polish off the holiday goodies, watch Beauty and the Beast for the 10,000th time…and, yet, I found myself jumping from pure amazement/warm-and-fuzzies over seeing her play, laugh, and learn new things with her gifts to the distraction of wanting to clean all the holiday aftermath, take down the garland, reorganize the play room – and the list goes on and on.
My guess is that I’m not the only one who’s experienced this before. Chances are you, too, have found yourself in a similar tug-of-war between presence in the moment and the pressures of to-do lists.
It’s those tug-of-war moments that challenge us directly to step into the life we were destined to create or the life of chasing “good enough” that doesn’t even exist. Here are a few examples of the power of presence vs. pressure:
Presence: I’m wholeheartedly enjoying these hours with my daughter before she goes down for her nap. I’ve dreamt of being a mother and I’m so grateful I get to be hers.
Pressure: This time could be used catching up on writing, prepping for next week’s meetings, putting dishes away, cleaning the living room, calling so-and-so back, catching up on laundry – and then I can enjoy time with my daughter more.
Presence: I fully hear my employee explaining what they’ve accomplished on their project and, by paying attention, I’m also able to pick up on body language telling me there’s something they need but aren’t quite sure how to ask for. The more seen, heard, and valued my employees are, the higher their engagement, execution, and talent retention.
Pressure: Why is Judy still talking? I just need an update, not a dissertation. I need to get this report submitted, run over to marketing to check on the status of that campaign, sign off on payroll, check on the region managers to make sure they’re on track for their sales targets. If she would get to the point, I’d be able to stay on track for a productive day.
Presence: Phone-free date night creates the space for my partner and I to reconnect and recharge with one another. It creates an opportunity to really see and hear them completely, which helps us navigate life together as a more powerful unit.
Pressure: Reading emails between courses on date night keeps me up to date on the latest demands from work, even if it’s sending an unintended unspoken message to my partner that they’re optional and don’t deserve my full attention. After all, they’ll forgive me and once I’m finished with work, I’ll return my attention to them.
I spend hours every week working with clients and in practice myself to find the balance that serves the chapter of life we are in. At MJST, we don’t believe in sacrificing one domain (e.g., physical, spiritual, relationships, occupation, contributions) in order for another to thrive – we believe in a completely thriving you. To do that, we’ve got to be aware of these tug-of-war moments and how they make us feel. If we let them, these experiences can lead to greater clarity about what it means to choose complete presence. On the flip side, these moments can also serve as a lesson when we find ourselves caving to pressure too often.
What’s interesting about tug-of-war moments is that they’re not exclusive to when life feels easy or to when life feels hard – they find us each and every day. I don’t say this to frighten anyone, but rather to remind all of us that, even though it may feel hard, there is hope in the choices we make.
As 2020 awaits just around the corner, the time is ours to choose presence over pressure and experience a new level of clarity, certainty, and capacity we never knew existed. I’m grateful for tug-of-war moments – after all, they’re the daily chances we’re given to experience personal growth.