In working with private individuals on general health, wellness, and life balance, as well as with corporate clients on cultural change and organizational effectiveness, engagement is a popular ‘buzz’ word. Tied into the concepts of mindfulness and empowerment, historically the word engage comes from the French engagier, meaning, “to bind by promise, oath or pledge.” The definition evolved to include “to attract and occupy the attention of” and “to employ and secure for aid,” and became used in both the contexts of a promise to marry and to enter into conflict/combat (the relationship between the two is worthy of a column of its own.) In this post we ponder engagement in terms of an active focus on something that attracts our attention, stimulates our interests, and satisfies our need for connection.
When did you last feel charmed by or enamored with someone, captivated by a moment, or fully immersed and invested in an experience?
Often in our hectic lives filled constant distractions and multitasking, such rapt attention is only experienced in response to a crisis, where some unexpected occurrence suddenly requires all of our energy and focus. Generally it is something that needs to be fixed – your car, your relationship, your health, your career, or your financial situation. Like any squeaky wheel, when something goes wrong and starts to have a negative impact it then becomes a priority. But, what if you took the time to identify what in your life is worthy of your pro-active attention and engagement just for sheer pleasure and fulfillment? You can revisit an old hobby, start something new you’ve always wanted to try, or expand your investment in something you are only halfheartedly doing.
Seven years ago I was missing a sense of engagement in my life and looked for some sort of activity that offered a challenging goal and structure for achievement—as a result I entered a PhD program. Admittedly, this is a bit extreme, and unless obtaining a terminal degree (and terminal debt) is on your bucket list, I would suggest getting involved in a non-profit, learning to play an instrument or speak a language, or committing to regular date nights or play dates with loved ones. Regardless of whether it is a creative project, physical activity, professional accomplishment or just mindfully enjoying a great meal or pleasant walk, allow yourself to be fully engaged in the process and charmed by the possibilities.
When you pursue the value of engagement in one area of your life, your relationship with all other areas are bound to become more engaging as well.
For myself, now that my doctoral dissertation is done and my doctorate complete, I will need to seek out something (or someone) new with which to become engaged. Maybe it is time to adopt another dog.
If you want to brainstorm some ideas for how you can increase the value of engagement in your life, please contact me (stacey@theCoach4you.com) to arrange a complimentary 30-min coaching session via phone.