“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
I feel like we are constantly bombarded by this adult version of a good ol’ childhood question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Or maybe it’s just me.
It’s a question that can make you feel uneasy, to say the least.
With the ever-growing pace of our everyday life, we stress SO MUCH about the future and try to have it all figured out. And we are trying to do it NOW (if not yesterday).
Very often we give ourselves these “deadlines” to do this by the age of (insert the number), to accomplish that by (insert the year), and the list goes on.
It’s like we are running in this never-ending exercise wheel trying to make our (so called “better”) future come faster.
Before you say anything, let me clarify that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having great planning skills or knowing exactly what you’re aspiring to get done in the next 6 months, 2 years or a decade. I admire people who are so well organised that they know where they are vacationing in summer 2020 or how much their business will grow by 2030.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a planner and you write your daily to-do lists.
We habitually plan on a micro level. It could be anything from tidying up your wardrobe on Tuesday, catching up with friends on Saturday and getting that dentist’s appointment booked ASAP.
I have a friend who constantly lives in the future. She always talks about the events in her life that will come, things she will do, goals she will smash. She doesn’t like to talk about the past (it’s completely understandable – something past is better left in the past) nor the present (because she isn’t happy with where she is today).
I used to do that too.
Maybe not on a daily basis but quite a lot. Until I realised how harmful it was to live in the land of tomorrow most of the time. She was the one who inspired me to write this post and asked to explore this question deeper.
So why do we tend to make the future get here faster?
There are many reasons behind it. Some could be very personal and coming from a very complex and intricate trail of memories, life experiences and current circumstances.
It’s a very individual thing.
However, most of us are pressured into thinking (and worrying) about the future because of
a) the society and its unrealistic “rules”, e.g., being married by 25, having a baby by 27 and achieving your career goals by 30,
b) the “comparison monster” constantly reminding you that you aren’t where someone else is (yet),
c) the myth of If-I-don’t-get-there-now-someone-else-will-and-I-will-miss-out-and-will-never-succeed.
What about these ABCs?
→ Society and people in our life (sometimes including family) might think they know best how you ought to live your life.
Not married by 25?
Going to end up alone!
Married but don’t have kids right away?
Something’s wrong with her!
Has just had a baby?
Not parenting right!
Baby is a toddler?
Time to plan for baby #2!
It never stops. The only way to cope is to filter through all the noise and separate good advice from (rubbish) unsolicited opinions.
Live at your own pace guided by a much grander plan for your life.
→ Comparison… Where do I even start?
You might be looking at someone your age who’s a successful business owner and your savings aren’t anywhere close.
You could be following someone’s “fun” life on social media and get major FOMO or feel left out.
Let’s not even go down the weight, looks, relationships direction.
When you compare yourself to others, it can easily get you down about where you are, and that’s wrong. Each life’s path is unique. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Often, life we see online is not always a full picture. You might not see the struggles behind the flawless smile. You don’t know what REALLY goes down behind the scenes.
→ Get there faster or someone else will take your “place in the sun”.
Happiness doesn’t come in limited “portions”. Just because someone is happy doesn’t mean others can’t be.
Someone’s else dream might not be your dream.
Someone else’s goals aren’t your goals.
Personally, I believe that the plan for my life isn’t built around competition, being “better than others” or proving something to somebody.
Happiness and true joy aren’t defined by success the world can offer. Sometimes the most successful people are the unhappiest people. They are missing something they lost along the lines trying to achieve someone else’s “dream life”.
Define what truly matters in your life.
So how to live in the moment?
1. Be still.
One of my favourite verses in the Scriptures says these exact words.
What does it mean to “be still” to you? Just so you know, I’m not promoting laziness here.
There are 2 ways in which we can “be still”, and both of them can improve life immensely:
1) savouring the moment
Often, we tend to get ahead of ourselves. Future has to come now and be amazing. We plan, plan and plan more. We think of how great it will be to do this and that. What about now? In order to live in the moment, you need to live it to the fullest right this minute. Even if you’re having a bad day. Make it count. After all, “… today is a gift”, right?
2) letting go in situations we cannot control
Guess what I tend to do when there’s an issue? Probably something most of the mankind would do – try to solve it. What happens when you can’t? Letting go of “control” and admitting I’m helpless is not an easy thing to do but I trust that God’s plan for my life is much more amazing than I could ever imagine it to be. That’s why, I sometimes have to be still and let Him handle things for me.
2. Practice mindfulness.
When I first heard this term I thought it was just yet another gimmick or a fad to get us into doing something that’s supposed to be “good for us”.
There are so many ways to live in the moment through being mindful. Do your own little research and choose what you think is going to help you, and give it a go. I know some people enjoy journaling, writing in a diary, meditating, etc.
When I started digging deeper and looking into it, I found out that I’m already practicing mindfulness! I do it through a prayer.
Nothing helps me more to “clear my head” off all the noise of the world and get my mind right than praying. And boy, do I need to do it more!
Being mindful means many things for many people. For me it means being in the now, being thankful, letting go of what I can’t control, letting God take care of me, improving my mental health, mood, the way I treat others and, understanding the value of life I’m living.
This one word speaks volumes and I don’t think it needs much explanation.
To live in the moment, you need to disconnect from the constant tsunamis of information and noise coming at us from all sources: internet, social media, TV, papers – you name it.
If you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through Facebook for hours, maybe it’s time to delete the app for a day or two and spend more time investing into something more productive. Rather than investing so much time into watching someone else’s life, it might be a better idea to turn off and live yours.
Take a walk. Get some fresh air. It will do wonders. Just saying.
4. Get creative but stop multitasking.
Nothing helps us more to live “in the now” than letting our creative juices flow.
Whether it’s through painting, writing, designing, decorating or (insert your favourite creative activity here) – creativity makes this very moment very prominent, important, valuable and full of flavour.
When you are painting you could be thinking of what the finished “product” might look like. At the same time, you’re so “in the zone” that you’re lost in this very second ENJOYING yourself, savouring this moment. The key thing is not to multitask. This is especially difficult for bloggers. We have to think about and do hundreds of tasks (all at once, or so it seems sometimes). I have learnt this one the hard way – when I multitask, hardly anything gets done.
5. Let the past stay in the past.
We all carry some sort of baggage with us.
It’s part of life and part of the experience. Right?
Well, there is something positive about it because we’ve survived through it, come this far, and this is our story.
Though, not in a case when the burden of the past weighs down on us prohibiting to live today and have the hope for the future.
I’m talking about bad memories, hurt, anger, regret, grudges and their “siblings”. LET. THEM. GO. They aren’t doing you any good. Leave them in the past. They are a part of your history but not of your present or the future.
6. Invest into relationships that matter.
Once you’ve closed the chapter into your past, including letting some people go (no matter how hard it might be), re-invest your time, energy and love into those who matter.
It could be your family members who you distanced yourself from, an old friend who you haven’t made an effort to be in touch with or your other half who you might have taken for granted. Everyone’s story is different. I don’t know yours. But what I DO know is that it’s vital to press pause on everything that’s happening in the world and play with your kids, call parents or hug your better half.
Spending time with people who mean the world to us will remind us time after time how amazing life is. Right now. Right this moment.
+ Bonus one:
Be thankful for who and what you have in your life.
Enjoy your now. Make the best of it.
Nail polish – Ciaté London
Leave me a comment and let me know if you’ve ever struggled with pressure from the past or about the future.
What’s your no. 1 advice on how to live in the moment?