I first learned a valuable lesson about being present in third grade.
It was Hanukkah, and we were in the kitchen in our Butte, Montana home. My parents were on either side of eight-year-old me as I lit the menorah. My brother was behind me watching TV. As the candles were lit, Bill uttered something like “Wow”, which enticed me to turn my head to see what I was missing. When I turned back to the menorah and looked at my reflection in the window, I saw that the candles weren’t the only flames lighting up the holiday. My hair was on fire.
After my dad yelled my mom’s name my mom put out my blazing locks with her bare hands (you can tell who the “get it done” person was in our house). That entire Hanukkah was marred by the smell of charred hair and my transformation of a long-hair to a short-hair girl for nearly a decade. If I had only focused on one thing—the act of lighting the menorah and celebrating the holiday—instead of trying to do two things at once, it wouldn’t have happened.
Fast forward to my life as a wife and mom of two who also juggles a very large direct sales business and a growing writing and speaking career. At any given moment, there is most certainly more than one thing I could be doing to get everyone on the bus, keep the wheels on the bus and keep the bus moving forward. And my brain never lets me forget that. I’m confident that if you’re a woman reading this you agree that our brains jump from one thing to another on our to-do list every second. And with our teeming full plates we’re constantly looking for a way to multi-task, well, everything.
I’ve talked and written about why scientists and our own experiences tell us multi-tasking is actually bad when the activities require actual brainpower. But more than that, trying to do more than one thing at a time keeps us from being in the moment. Constantly multi-tasking in an attempt to be uber-efficient keeps us from being present in our own lives.
And if we’re not present in our lives, how can we possibly expect to do our best in our personal or professional lives, give our best in our relationships, offer our best to the world or live our best lives?
So now at 47 I’ve finally learned that no matter how busy I am, how much I want to accomplish, I’ve got to do one thing at a time, and be all in. That’s how I can give the best of me, and how I can experience my life and all the wonderful people and experiences in it.
And how I can keep my hair from catching on fire, literally and figuratively.