It's a bit daunting to write a single blog post that combines two topics which both could fill entire libraries. Striving for the future is synonymous with purpose and meaning. Plenty has been written about that. Meanwhile, enjoying the present is looked at as the cliché, but true way to live the good life.
In this post, I won't go deep into either topic. Instead, I'll talk about how it's possible to do both. You see, most people view striving for the future and enjoying the present as mutually exclusive.
I can either buckle down and grind my teeth while I work towards a future goal, or I can stop, smell the roses, and just enjoy where I'm at. Right?
In fact, that's not at all how it has to be. I'm here to tell you can absolutely have your cake and eat it too when it comes to striving for a better future and enjoying the present moment.
Somewhere along the lines, perhaps due to the overcrowded sea of influencer voices, the popular opinion has become, "work your ass off for X number of years, and one day it'll pay off." This is dangerous messaging. If you're a regular reader of this blog, I'm sure you can guess why.
The reason it's dangerous is because it uses the present moment - which is the only moment we ever have - as a stepping stone for the future. This is problematic because life doesn't happen in the future. It can only ever happen in the present. That's how it's always been, and that's how it'll always be.
I encourage you to stop and think about that for a second. It's not something to take lightly.
To use the present moment as an ends to a means is to completely miss life. Period. This is why people have midlife crises. This is why elderly people regret not doing more when they were younger. This is why we can all look back on certain years of our lives and wonder what we even accomplished.
This is because we've been using the present moment as a stepping stone for the future, while completely forgetting that it was all we ever had.
You see, it's completely possible to be fully grounded, fully present in the now, while you work towards specific goals.
In fact, not only is is possible, but you're more likely to achieve whatever goal you set out for since your concentration in the present moment will be fuller. The more present you are now while working towards your future, the less distracted you'll be, ultimately moving you along quicker towards your goals.
It's a win-win to be grounded in the present, while working towards future goals. You enjoy more now, and you'll likely get farther in the future.
So how do we do both?
Most people are familiar with achieving things. This is a science that's well documented all over. Set your target, do some research, and surely you'll find a blueprint from someone who's done it.
When it comes to presence and enjoying the process, that's where your work really comes in. While there are many ways to practice presence, one I'm fond of is practicing non-resistance.
With non-resistance, whatever's happening right now, you can ask:
What is my relationship to it?
Am I resisting it?
Just because I don't like what's happening, am I then throwing a tantrum?
Am I suppressing my feelings as they come up because they're uncomfortable?
Am I expressing my feelings by acting on my urges?
Who am I that watches my thoughts and feelings?
Am I aware that the nature of my mind and heart is to create thoughts and emanate emotions, and that I just need to be present while all of this is happening?
Am I conscious of the fact that many feelings will be uncomfortable, but that's okay, because I'm always safe back here, witnessing it all?
By practicing non-resistance to whatever arises, we learn to dance with the winds of life, no matter how hard they blow.
This is the path of someone who's grounded in the present moment while working towards the future. This is how it looks when someone "smells the roses" along the entire journey.
Most of us tragically dismiss the present moment, buckle down and fight whatever's in our path until we achieve our goal. But those who have attained worldly successes can tell you that success without enjoyment of the process is not success at all. In fact, some might call it failure.
It's one thing to fail working towards your goal and get disillusioned. But to attain the goal that you've been working for so hard, and then to be disillusion? Where do you go from there?
That's why it's downright imperative that we all recognize that now is all we ever have. Working towards goals is fantastic. It's fun. It's exhilarating. It's challenging.
But guess what. We're allowed to enjoy it when it sucks. We're allowed to appreciate all the headwinds just as much as the tailwinds. Neither is better. They're all just part of this fantastic journey of life, which, remember, can only ever happen right now.
You best make now your friend, no matter what it looks like.
Live with substance!