In order to get somewhere, you have to be somewhere first. Instead of obsessing over getting somewhere fast, focus on being somewhere completely. Being who you are right where you are will allow you to practice more authentically, generate more opportunities, and increase your performance and enjoyment, personally and professionally. In essence, in order to reap all the benefits that life in the moment has to offer, you must be present to win.

If you’re more mentally aware of your circumstances, you can be more honest about your actual experience and avoid the self-deceptions and false guarantees. If you’re intelligently available  to clients, customers and demands of your job, you will perform better than those that don’t. If you develop a trust for your natural talents, you’ll be able to work candidly and play to your strengths. The adaptive mindset, authentic present, both require an acute attention and awareness to the here and the now.

The Challenge: No time for the Now. Only Time for the Future.

The challenges to being present revolve around the common and frantic obsession with the future. Will I get that promotion? Will it launch successfully? What will happen next? Will my deal go through? These are but a few questions and worrying habits of the future that create anxiety and stress and hinder performance in the now. With our attention on the future neglect the opportunities of our work now.

Stress Anxiety from Unrealistic Expectations

While stuck on the future, we set unrealistic expectations by ignoring or not defining the present. We set goals for ourselves while completely ignoring our present circumstances. By ignoring or not defining the starting point, it becomes quite easy to set unrealistic demands on our workloads and personal lives. If your goal is to run a marathon but you’ve never ran a 5k, your making failure far more likely than success. If your goal is to make a million when you’re having trouble making a hundred, you’re likely creating trouble. These examples may sound obvious but the addiction to speed and consumption confuse the senses.

Stop Counting and Start Measuring- Quality Control

We often confuse the quantifiable measurements of speed and consumption with the qualitative net gain,and  holistic virtue of our efforts. For example, the number of books you’ve read may be impressive, but the number of books you remember, or better still  the number of books that changed your life and business may appear less impressive but are far more meaningful to your bottom line. This is a problem of linear thinking; when focused on measuring only one outcome (volume or quantity) and not the many varying results (qaulities and virtues) or net effect. Though they may be harder to define, the qualitative effects may be more important to measure.

 Linear Check-List Mentality of Strict Accounting

Our self-sabotaging doesn’t stop there. Consider the check-list mentality. Do you have a business plan? Uh-huh. a website? Yes. A business card? A website? Duh. The most neglected aspects of our practice are often areas where we apply a checklist (yes/no) mentality. This attitude of  binary strict accounting when it comes to measuring progress and achievement hinders the quality of our work and creates more anxiety. Without acknowledging the qualitative values that we wish to demonstrate in our work, frustration builds when we can’t check off our progress. This ends up causing us to ignore our actual forward momentum, and tricks us into believing that despite our efforts we got nothing done.

So how do you escape all the entanglements and anxiety of future obsession? How do you become present to win?

The solution: Be Somewhere First.

Be who you are right where you are. Know yourself. Choose to cultivate an authentic practice. Know who and what you’re not (e.g. you are not a 5th degree black belt productivity guru, or Google or Steve Jobs). Let go of the urge to compare yourself to the myths and legend of your time and industry. Be comfortable with what you’ve got and build something with it.

Increase your opportunities right now by deciding to be attentively aware right now. In order to act upon these new opportunities, you’ll need an adaptive mindset. Making use of an adaptive mindset requires an understanding of your situation, so consider your environment, network and capabilities.

Be who you are right where you are. Relax.

Recognize that you will never be able to completely control every aspect of your work. Let go of the expectation. Commit to what you can do on a time frame you can actually deliver on. Integrity goes hand in hand with authenticity. Be consistent in your word and deed, for your own personal practice and to build respect in your work.

Let go of the focus on the future so you can be fully available to work in the present. Try and have one mind for that one task or project, right now, today.

Pencil in at least 10 minutes per day to practice being aware. Schedule the time on your calendar. Write it down. Focus on everything and nothing. If your attention wanders, bring it back to the moment and just sit and be open. If you treat this as seriously as the rest of your business efforts, it will outperform many of them. The fruits of being mentally available in the now will come to those who choose to do it. You must be present to win.