“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

(Ferris, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

As the calendar flips from 2017 to 2018, most of us shake our heads with disbelief at how and when this happened. I recently heard an explanation of this. Every year we add to our life means our experiences become smaller portion of our total years. At age 7, one year is a huge percentage of our lifespan; whereas at age 30, one year is a significantly smaller fraction of our years. It feels as though the more events we build up in our memory, the more time speeds up along the way.

Hopefully I haven’t lost you on account of a depressing start, but hang with me for a few minutes. I was recently on an early morning run here in Colorado Springs. The sun was about to rise, the mountain air was cool and crisp; I was simply enjoying the act of moving my body and the solitude to the start of a new day. I wasn’t worried about pace, or speed, or mileage. Suddenly I looked to my right as the sun began to spill onto Pikes Peak, illuminating the entire range with a red-orange hue, against a still dark sky. It was awe-inspiring and stunning. As I had been pondering over something to write to kick off 2018, it came to me. If there is only one thing you do this entire year my friends, I ask you to try to stay centered.

We live in a world of constant connection, and with that we have any information we seek (accuracy aside) at our fingertips. Need a recipe to use up leftover turkey? Google it. Wondering how far the drive is for your next road trip? Ask Alexa. (Did you know that Alexa can now flush your toilet? Before you know it, we’ll be asking her to go to the bathroom for us). Wondering how a friend is doing? Go to Facebook! But wait, isn’t that what you did 30 minutes ago, and now you are caught up something else on Facebook that you really…don’t…care about?

Like it or not, this is 2018. And it’s not all bad – but ultimately like anything, it’s what we make of it. I constantly feel I’m aging myself by saying it, but I often think about how different life was when I was growing up. The only technology kids used was Nintendo, and I can still recall when we had rotary dial phones in our house. In the summers, I would spend all day outside; hiking through the woods, riding my bike into town, buying a dollar worth of $.10 candy, carrying it home with me, then walking to the swimming pool where I would usually stay until they kicked me out. We were allowed to watch about an hour of TV in the evenings (back then it equated to 2×30 min sitcoms), and the only time we were introduced to cable was when they were running a deal on it. While life seemed simpler, it’s all of course relative. We have conveniences and luxuries in 2018 we sure didn’t have in 1988. However, I also think that since we have the option to access any information in seconds and we can fill our boredom time with (often) useless chatter, we start to find we are occupying our time with things that lack any sort of fulfillment. Yet there are a few simple things you can do to try to stay a bit more present, and hopefully, feel more centered throughout your busy life.

Use your conscious mind. We all use social media in some capacity, and in ways, it has redeeming qualities; quick delivery of news and information, free marketing, and a way to stay connected to others. Yet there is a lot of negativity that spins around us all day as well, and it is up to us as to how we choose to perceive this. We can decide when to view it and when to shut if off. If you find the ‘world around you’ is getting you down, step away from the devices; call up a friend, go grab coffee, or put pen to paper and send someone a card to connect. Make choices throughout the day that create fulfillment in your life, not take away from it.

Stop trying to do it all. We as athletes are great task-masters. We can get up early, knock out exercise before most have woken up, come home, breakfast, coffee, kids, and off to work all by 9am. While Winning the Morning has a vast number of positives and I’m the biggest advocate of getting things done earlier, we all have moments when we feel like we simply can’t keep up. And at times, we need to step back and take a breather. When it feels like your life is speeding up and you’re watching it slip through your fingers, take a step back; say ‘no’ to things. Take a day off, tell your coach you need a few days of rest. We all need a reset every so often, but it takes YOU to initiate the slow down and realize it is precisely what you need to continue to be the best version of yourself.

Use your eyes more, your devices less. Pictures will forever be a way to capture moments, and it’s wonderful to solidify memories forever. But how often are you watching something brilliant and you look around and all you see are phones in the air, nobody actually watching the brilliance? How much of “life” are we missing, when all we can think about is snapping moments on our phones only to immediately post somewhere? Notice the beauty of the world around you, and occasionally; resist the urge to reach for your phone. Before you know it, the sun has slipped beneath the horizon, and you’ve completely missed it.

Make self-talk a habit. We all do it. It’s easy to be overly critical of ourselves, of others, and of the world around us. It’s natural to worry about things we know we cannot control, and at the end of the day – worry accomplishes nothing. When you realize you’re going down a path of negativity, stop – and try to replace your inner chatter with something positive. In doing this, you’ll also notice that you’re staying more present; not letting your fears and worries get the best of you. Don’t try to be perfect in this sense; just try to be better at taking control of what goes on in your head, as staying positive can have a direct impact on your attitude.

Stay honest with yourself. In the words of E.E. Cummings, “It take courage to grow up and become who you are.” Ultimately if we want to stay centered in our lives, we have to be truly honest with our own inner dreams, desires and passions. Be honest with those around you, however if you find there is something nagging inside of you; the path you’re on feels mundane, you need a change; listen to the inner chatter, respect it and address it. It’s easier to keep going on a path of familiarity even if we’re feeling unfilled than it is to make a change, take a risk and step into the unknown. But through experiences, we grow as individuals. Whether it be messy, confusing, scary, or inexplainable to others – have the faith to be shamelessly you.