When I first started at Smith in March of this year, I stepped into a new role with a new team and smack into the intensity of the final semester, when job seekers about to graduate were near panic. There were so many people to meet, there was so much to learn, there was so much to do!
Gratefully, the baritone voice from my core instructed, “Don’t rush.”
Think for a moment what it feels like when you rush. Your attention isn’t focused on where you are, but rather on where you think you ought to be, but since you’re not there yet, your attention is focused neither on where you are nor where you’re going. It really isn’t focused at all, is it?
For those of you who are new to the life of a part-time graduate student, you’re probably wondering how you can possibly complete all of the reading. You’re still trying to figure out traffic patterns, parking lots, brown bag suppers, and how to organize your briefcase – digital or actual. And, all at once, there are so many new relationships to attend.
For those already initiated, you may have received a new work project that seems overly-ambitious and under-resourced. Maybe it’s time to push for that promotion, or maybe it’s time to enter the fray of the job market. Maybe you’ve just learned that a new baby is coming to your family. Maybe it’s twins.
You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to get everything done?” Your heart beats a little faster, your breath gets a little shorter, you notice a faint headache. And an anxious voice insists, “Hurry!” Fear stirs.
Breathe. 5 counts in. 5 counts out. Six times. One minute of breathing.
Return your attention to where you are right now, to what you’re reading, to what you’re listening to, to what you’re writing, to what you’re wondering, to your sit-ups, your bicycle, your nap, your child, your partner, yourself. Be present and get the most out of where you are right now. And when you take the next step, be present there and then, and get the most out of that. And when you take the step after that, you might find that you’re heading in a different direction than the one you had been rushing toward, precisely because what you learned by being fully present took you somewhere better.