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The Road to Promotion: Be Mindful and Enjoy the Moment

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 - 17:59

Guest post by AIM Senior Research Fellow, Dr Samantha Johnson

Do you daydream at work?  Of course you do.  But how much?  If you daydream a lot, if your mind wanders easily and if you operate on auto-pilot you might want to polish up your resume.  Apparently being focused, in the moment and ‘mindful’ at work is linked not only to performance, but to retention.  If you’re looking to do well and snatch that next promotion, ignore the view from the boardroom window and turn your thoughts to what you’re doing and how you’re feeling.

Mindfulness has become a popular word of late.  People are learning mindfulness techniques to enhance relationships, build vitality, reduce stress, depression and anxiety and increase life satisfaction.  Now it’s time to learn and practice mindfulness at work – that is, of course, if longevity and performance matter to you.

Mindfulness is considered a psychological state that allows us to focus our attention on events occurring in the present moment. It sounds a little easier than it actually is. 

To be truly and effectively mindful, we must be aware of the moment we are in, both internally and externally.  In other words, it’s not only important to know where you are and the activity you are engaged in, but it’s also important to be mindful of how you feel about it and what you are experiencing within yourself.  The focus of attention must be broad and this takes practice. 

If you’re reading this and thinking that this is a lot of fuss over nothing, you do it all the time, you might be the type of person who is naturally inclined to being mindful.  If, however, you’re thinking that this sounds like a whole lot of soft fluffy stuff that soft fluffy people like to talk about – you might not be naturally inclined and you might benefit the most from learning some new mindfulness techniques.

Being mindful at work has recently been linked to the ability to manage fatigue at work and improved task performance, as well as the ability to cope with challenging or stressful situations and to self-manage.

It enhances judgement and insight and can help us process information more accurately. It allows us to be more objective in our dealings with others and to manage those moments of passion in work meetings that often leave us (and our colleagues) red-faced.

So how do you practice mindfulness at work? Here are 6 easy techniques to practice.

  1. Identify your emotions, feelings or mood at any given time.  Ask yourself ‘how am I feeling right now?’ Be sure that you identify feelings rather than thoughts.  For example, thoughts such as being curious or interested could cause feelings of contentment or happiness, or being perplexed or confused could cause feelings of frustration or annoyance.
  2. Measure the length of time you generally stay focused on particular task and slowly increase it.  Train yourself to ignore the distraction around you.
  3. Practice remembering people’s names when you’re introduced to them. Don’t allow yourself to forget them almost instantly.
  4. Identify how often you feel like you’re on auto-pilot; reduce this.  Reduce the tendency to operate by habit.
  5. Balance the focus of goal achievement with tasks.  In other words, enjoy the journey as well as the achievement.
  6. Stop listening to people and doing something else simultaneously.  Focus only on listening and put the other task aside. Stop multi-tasking, it’s not really working.

Being mindful will help you increase your emotional intelligence and emotional intelligence has been shown to be beneficial for just about every aspect of work and life.  It will help you identify and appreciate new experiences in life, it will help you reduce worry and anxiety.  You’ll have clearer thoughts and a more balanced perspective. 

Being mindful will make you happier! It will also make you more pleasant to work with.  It will build your self-esteem and enhance an optimistic outlook on life.  At work, you’ll be more engaged and more personable. 

Who would have thought that practicing to remember people’s names and focusing on yourself and how you feel would reap such benefits?  For those of you looking for success at work and preparing for a promotion, take heed, this is valuable research that encourages performance improvement through happiness and relaxation.  Forget diving into further studies, smile and practice being in the moment, apparently that’ll do it!

If you're looking for short course training that can provide you with an edge in your career, AIM offers over 80 open programs that can give you the knowledge and skills you need to realise your power. With courses such as Performance Management, Leading with Emotional Intelligence and Manage People Effectively, AIM specialises in programs that will enable you to lead from the front and set new standards in your organisation and your career.

 

References:

Dan, E & Brummel, B.  Human Relations 67(1) 105-128 2013.

Kirk Warren Brown and Richard M Ryan.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4) April 2013 pp. 822-848