Now that the excitement of the New Year has ended and resolutions start to fall by the wayside, why not focus on one that may actually stick? A few months ago we created a post about the art of listening and steps you needed to take in order to actively listen to the other person. Since you have had months to practice this skill, let’s make it even more challenging. Take the 2017 Challenge and make the choice to be fully present when you are with others by following these five rules:


  1. No cell phones at the table. This includes just having the phone present at the table, even if it is facedown. Merely having the phone physically on the table shows that you are not fully engaged or are possibly waiting for something better to come along, such as a text, phone call, or tweet. Instead, put the phone in another room or turn it off entirely, and actually talk to your coworkers, family and friends. If you are in a business meeting do not check your phone until you have physically left the room. Better yet, wait until you are back at your desk and use the time to walk down the hall and continue conversations with your coworkers.


  1. Go out for coffee and do not bring an electronic device with you. Try this at least once. You see people at coffee shops all the time glued to their electronic devices. Whatever happened to savoring a cup of joe? If you are spending $5.00 for a latte, you may as well get the full experience of the aroma, heat, and taste. Take a moment to look at your surroundings and possibly have an actual conversation with another human being face-to-face. If you must have your cell phone on in case of an emergency or for work, put it in your bag or pocket on vibrate.


  1. Limit your social media time. Admit it…we are all addicted to some form of social media; whether it is Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, or any of a host of other apps available, they catch our attention and we are no longer present in the moment because we are stuck to the screen in front of us. As such, there are times where you must periodically force yourself to disconnect. Start out small and limit yourself by checking your apps and profiles less frequently. The next week reduce that number again. This may not be something you can do cold turkey, but if you have the willpower to disable or lock your account for a period of time, try it and see how you feel. We live in a constantly connected world, but maybe it’s time to be a rebel and say no more. Use social media for work purposes and only check on those sites during work hours.


  1. Walk to see your coworker. We are all guilty of sending an e-mail to the person in the next cubical or office, instead of taking the three steps to talk to them. Having a little face-to-face interaction will actually benefit both you and the other person. In addition, if you need a break from the computer because your eyes are about to burn themselves out of your head because of too much screen time, this will give your optical nerves the opportunity to take a break.


  1. Go on an electronic free vacation (or staycation). Choose a weekend and tell your family and friends where you will be and how they can reach you. Give them the hotel information or phone number to your neighbor and let them know you will only be checking your cell phone once a day at a specific time and then shutting it off again. Then go on an adventure or have a family board game night. The main thing is, STOP LOOKING AT YOUR DEVICE AND START LOOKING AROUND AT THE WORLD. You may be surprised at what you see.

Take on this challenge and make 2017 the year to be present, mindful, and above all, nurture your current relationships while forging new ones.