The idea of balancing our dreams, goals, and plans for the future with staying in the present moment and loving where we currently are in life is a tricky one. But with these tips, hopefully that balance will become a little easier to find. These practices below have really helped me when I’ve felt like I was focusing too much on my future goals and not on how far I’d already come, and I hope they’ll help you, too!
I’m someone who’s always looking ahead. This can be a great thing, because I’m an expert at planning and then knowing what steps I need to take to accomplish a goal. I know how to ignore certain short-term pleasures to see long-term gains.
But this also means that I have a harder time living in the present (gasp)! I’m often so focused on achieving the next goal, on getting to the next step, that I have a hard time just being where I am now. Can anyone relate?! Again, I know this has its positives – I’m a go-getter who just goes and does something when I say I’m going to, and this has led to a lot of amazing things in my life. But it can also make me miserable if I’m not careful.
So, if you’re someone who struggles to take action, then this post is not for you. But if you’re someone who, like me, sometimes finds themselves taking so much action that you have trouble slowing down and just appreciating where you are in life, then read on for some of my favorite ways to slow myself down and enjoy the current season of my life, rather than just waiting to move on to whatever I’m doing next.
Take intentional time to reflect as often as you can.
For me this changes with the day, week, and month, but what this looks like for me is usually writing in my gratitude journal, meditating, or talking with someone I love. The people you love are often much better than you at seeing the bigger picture when it comes to your experiences, and can be helpful in reminding you how far you’ve come. I also will usually take time to sit and write in my gratitude journal to remind myself of all the amazing things I have in my life right now. Sometimes I’ll read back through previous entries as well to remind myself of where I’ve been.
Remind yourself that you don’t have to have all the steps figured out, because life rarely goes as planned.
When I’m so concerned with figuring out “the next step,” I try to remind myself that life will happen exactly as it’s meant to, and having it all “figured out” is just an illusion. Of course it’s great to set intentions and figure out steps to getting where you want to be, but be wary of becoming so focused on the steps that you aren’t able to pivot when you need to. The unexpected is the only thing we can really count on, so it’s important to stick with our greater goals but allow the way we get there to be fluid and change if it needs to. And if our goals change, too, then that’s okay.
Find the lesson and the benefits in the current season of your life.
When I have a new idea, I’m so focused on making it happen immediately that I feel like I lose patience quickly. Not all ideas can happen right away, and nor should they. Some things take time, and we can’t always just jump out of whatever we’re doing right now as quickly as we want to. For example, when changing careers or starting your own business, it can be tempting to just start straight away because we’re just so excited to make the leap. But huge life changes like that take time, thought, and planning, and would likely be much less successful if we just leapt without any thought to the logistics.
Of course, people make leaps like this all the time, but I think in that case it’s important to note your usual knee-jerk reaction and then take some time to make sure you aren’t just following your old patterns without real contemplation. For example, if you’re someone who always leaps without looking, like me, then it may be good to this time try to slow it down a bit and stay where you are for the time being. But if you’re someone who has a hard time taking action and overthinks every decision, try leaping and see where that gets you.
Trust in the direction and flow of your life.
For a control freak like me, this is one of the hardest pills to swallow, but it’s the most important if you want to really enjoy the present moment on a larger and more permanent scale. It’s a delicate dance between going out and getting what you want and trusting that life will present the right opportunities to you at the right time. Ultimately, I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and that we’re right where we’re meant to be.
I try to understand (and sometimes this comes much later) what this current time in my life is trying to teach me, and accept that this is all transpiring as it’s meant to for a greater reason. I try to get out of victim mentality and trust that everything will unfold as it’s meant to in its own time. Of course I won’t sit by idly and wait for opportunities to present themselves, because I could be waiting forever, but I check in with myself when opportunities do come and I choose intentionally to go after others.
How do you balance staying present and planning for the future to achieve your dreams? I’d love to hear in the comments!