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Don’t Miss Out on the Present by Dwelling on the Future

Do you strive, stress and hustle for some future moment you believe will be better than this one?

Would you say you’re living your best moment, or are you chasing a future, imagining that over there, far into the sunset, would be better than life over here?

If you do, you’re not alone.

Most people function in what I call the ‘When…Then’ moment. 

When I have the partner of my dreams, then I’ll feel complete. When I’m wealthy beyond imagination,  then I will feel successful. When I have my dream job, then I’ll feel accomplished.

This obsession with a better future reality gives us the illusion that the goal is the destination rather than all the incredible moments encountered along the way. We ignore and dismiss these in our pursuit of that future moment when we will feel complete, happy, accomplished. All these will be neatly wrapped up in some long-awaited moment.

A ceremony of sorts will emerge when we will be handed the coveted award of success, happiness and security.

Isn’t that why we all work hard?

We strive, stress and hustle for some future moment we believe will be better than this one. But what if this is all an illusion, and this is truly your best moment? But you’re too busy chasing to notice.

This isn’t about eliminating the notion of ambition, drive and a go-getter attitude. But when I reflect on many of my coaching clients who are ambitious and goal driven, they are also masking a debilitating fear of failure, crippling anxiety and a severe allergy to slowing down.

Slowing down feels similar (or worse than) death. A paralysing feeling overtakes them even thinking about it.

To do so is to entertain being alone, at least momentarily, to experience silence, uncertainty and staring at themselves in the mirror for slightly longer than to brush their teeth and wash their face in the morning.

Silence and presence have become our most precious commodity. Yet people pay a fortune to go to ashrams in India or attend silent retreats held miles away when they could easily perform the same routine at home.

Give friends and family prior warning, take time off work, switch off your phone, wifi and social media access for a few days, and experience a busyness detox.

A few weeks ago, I happened to be on the train sitting next to two friends sitting alongside each other having a conversation.

Yes, I’m one of those serial eavesdroppers, listening to other peoples conversations with curiosity.

During the long journey, neither person paused for breath between sentences whilst discussing their schedule of holidays booked for this year. As if in parrot fashion, each one, in turn, relayed the exact holiday destinations she was travelling to, month by tedious month. It was their entire topic of conversation.

Having sat in trains, buses and planes for years, this is not a rare conversation.

Even my daughter who has barely finished her end of year at university already has her summer meticulously planned filled with schedules and activities.

No doubt picking up my baton after watching me for years operate in this fashion when she was a child.

My mindset at the time was geared to go away somewhere, anywhere but here. This often translated into constant travelling, inadequate relationships, enrolling in as many courses, workshops, retreats and online programmes I could accumulate. Yet as soon as it was over, I still felt disappointed, empty and craving for my next ‘fix’.

Imagine creating a life you don’t have to escape from?

The truth is that nothing we ever ‘do’ will ever surpass the joy of ‘being,’ and over the years, as my mindset has shifted, it has impacted how I embrace life just as it is, being present to all the magic that is hidden in the mundane and mediocrities of life.

I am more in the ‘Now’ at this stage of my life than I ever have been. And this doesn’t mean that life is perfect, far from it; but being engaged in life with presence through the turbulent moments has a different feel to it.

So how can you be more at ease with your life?

Start having checkpoints.

Just like you do when you’re navigating through an airport getting ready for your journey ahead. There are various airport procedures where you stop at checkpoints to check in and make sure you are in the correct airport, heading towards the right terminal and ending up boarding towards your destination.

A certainty that you’re taking the plane to Greece rather heading for the flight to Hawaii. 

Pause and reflect regularly on where you are in your relationship, business or work; these are life checkpoints.

As a preliminary question, ask yourself;

If I already felt complete, happy and successful within, would I still be running towards this business, partner, job or situation?

When doing this with my coaching clients, I often find the answer is no; since most people tend to live in two timezones that don’t exist – the past and the future, whilst neglecting the only timezone that remains. The present.

Live and savour each experience whilst letting this moment dictate what future action you wish to take. Not from a frenzied state of chasing the future, but from a state of being present to the moment.

If this article resonated with you, you can read more chapters like these in my latest book ‘Look Inside: Stop Seeking Start Living’ available now on Amazon.

If you want to connect with me to share insights from this article, send an e-mail to [email protected]

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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