Have you ever heard of the Zone of Proximity? It’s an interesting idea, and one that just might help during this season of “too much to do,” and “not enough time,” to get everything done we hope to accomplish.
The main idea behind the Zone of Proximity is that we don’t need to worry or be concerned until the moment we need to act. The late-Muhammed Ali, one of the best heavyweight boxers of all time, used this philosophy all the time, during his boxing matches. He was totally at ease in the corner. When the bell for the round rang, he’d come out with his arms at his sides, conserving energy until he was close enough to his opponent to get hit. When he did get close enough, then the energy he needed kicked in, his arms were up, gloves ready to protect or punch. This conservation meant he didn’t tire as quickly as some of his opponents.
So how does this idea translate to us “regular folks” as we meet each day? Let’s think of it in terms of the energy we use up when we consider the future. There really isn’t much use worrying about what will happen in the future, because it is too far away, right now. When we worry about how our children are – especially if they are adults – it is wasted energy if there is nothing we can do about a particular situation. Worrying about whether a loved one will like a holiday gift is an energy sapper, because we simply cannot control someone else’s reactions.
What we can do is prepare for as many contingencies as we can imagine. Humans are gifted with the power of forethought in order to do this. But once the preparations are done, there is very little else to do until situations play out. Obsessing about possibilities only causes stress inside ourselves, impacting our immune systems, and inevitably spreads to those around us. With all this energy and creativity draining away on the “what ifs” of life, there isn’t enough left to deal with the realities that actually do show up.
Mastering our own Zones of Proximity allows us to meet each day with our energy meters fully charged, and our attitudes lined up to react successfully to the challenges that do show up.