Be present in the moment. It sounds so simple, right? Yet it is actually very difficult for most of us to do. More often than not we are either ruminating about the past or planning for the future.
We all understand the benefits of living in the present moment, such as reducing stress, feeling happier, and getting better sleep.
However, if we are always living in the present, how do we plan for the future we dream of?
I have always been very future focused. I enjoy setting yearly goals and thinking of the future. I have often felt a struggle between being present and planning for the future. I know I am not alone in this struggle.
It is true that too much focus on the future often leads to stress and negative thinking.
So why do we often find ourselves thinking of our future?
Abundant research shows that goal-setting leads to happiness. Recognizing our potential and then utilizing it gives us a sense of empowerment, growth, and pride.
It’s a common misconception that being fully present means not setting goals.
Life satisfaction generally requires a balance of being and planning.
You can be present in the moment and plan for the future.
To balance both is to realize the subtle, but important, differences in “how” you do the planning. How you think about the future will either inspire you or set the stage for stress.
Here are three ways to be present while still planning for the future:
1) Set goals, but let go of your expectations.
It is wonderful to imagine the future you want and chase it. But if you want to avoid stress, try not to obsess about the exact outcomes.
Realize that we all have limited control over the exact outcome of the goals we set.
Our future will often unfold in surprising ways. Set goals and enjoy trying to reach them. At the same time, be realistic and try not to be attached to a specific outcome.
Get comfortable with not knowing.
2) Plan for the future, but don’t waste your time worrying about the future.
Worrying is as bad as procrastinating. And, more importantly, worrying is not planning.
Often we think we are planning for the future, but we are actually worrying about the future instead. This is not productive or nurturing to ourselves.
Here is a key distinction between planning and worry: Planning is intentional. We decide to plan. Worry, on the other hand, is mindless and unintentional. Planning is done in the present, while worry takes us out of the present.
3) Balance planning with action.
Too much planning can cause inaction. Make sure to have a balance of planning and taking action in the moment.
If you have a dream of writing a book, don’t just plan to write the book. Sit your butt in the chair and start writing the book little by little each day.
Action in the present is what enables our future.
Live each moment to its fullest, not taking life for granted.
If you decide to use this moment to set goals and plan your future, do it with intention. Enable your future with the moment you have today.
“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it but to enable it.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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