Your Presence is a Present
I made a promise to myself this year: if I agreed to do something, I was not going to back out. It's easy to click that yes button on a Facebook event and then to bail on the event day, thinking of various excuses or reasons to why you can't make it. I used to be guilty of this. I'd agree to attend a party or a networking event and then bail. Sometimes I had a reasonable excuse like a bad cold, sometimes I chalked it up to too much work or just being lazy. This year, I decided to stop this bad behaviour and committed to myself and my friends that I will be present in their lives.
For me, this began in early 2018, when I attended a well thought out networking event. The host put a lot of planning into the event, and while everyone in attendance well received it, she was let down as some key people who promised to show up skipped the evening all together. I began to put myself in the event host's shoes. As someone who plans events as a career, I've been there: you have 20 people registered, you think it will be amazing! Six show up. It's a letdown. It's easy to blow off an event when you think it doesn't matter. People assume that everyone else is attending and no one will even notice your missing. The reality is that it does matter. People are let down when you are a no-show, and even though you might not think so, there is someone at the end of the day who wants to see you.
This is why I've begun giving my coworkers and friends the gift of presence. When I say I am going to go to an event, I 90% of the time show up. I put my phone away (unless I'm at a work event tweeting!) and am with them at the moment. Never do I mark a Facebook event 'maybe' it's a hard yes or a hard no. If I have to cancel, I try to give the host an ample warning. I've found overall; I am happier now than I have been previously. I'm no longer plagued by guilt that I blew something off, and found that by being in the moment I have more meaningful connections than ever before.
While this all sounds pie in the sky and fantastic, I understand that sometimes we have ambitious hopes. You want to go to the after-work networking drinks, but when 6 pm rolls around, okay let's be honest 7 pm, you're exhausted and some takeaway Thai is looking mighty good. This is when you put into play the "power of know" as in know yourself. For example, on Monday mornings I have an internal team meeting that goes until 1 pm. My Monday's are a nightmare. I'm always playing catchup, and never leave work on time. Because of this I rarely say yes to things happening on Monday evenings. I know I won't make it and even if I do, I will just be stressed out thinking of all the things I didn't accomplish that day.
Now when I commit or not commit to something I think very hard about it. To some this might come off as cold, maybe it is. To me, I think of it as a commitment. If I say I am going to do something, I am going to do it. I challenge you all to do the same, think hard about how your actions affect others to be present in your life.