Life is exciting when you have things to look forward to. For many of us, it’s what gets us through a hard week, a long journey or the tenth conference call on a Tuesday. As a chronic planner, it’s also really easy to live your life according to your well-organized schedules, trips and daily routines.
But it’s really easy to glaze over the valuable here and now, if we are forever counting down to the next adventure, social event or milestone. One quote which really resonates with me when thinking about this is,
‘Remember when you wanted what you currently have’
I think this is just as relevant for experiences and memories, as it is for things, status and milestones in life.
Too often we are looking ahead for the next big memory we want to create that we gloss over the daily little moments which we have built for ourselves, that make up the majority of our day to day lives.
Looking forward is something we all do, even though we know it’s probably more beneficial to be living in the moment, living for now. Yet we also pair this with the dangerous habit of forgoing what is currently happening to focus on, reminisce, and think back to times which have passed. We live for a time that once was, rather than a time we can shape in this very moment.
It’s not all adventures, escapes, successes and social opportunities. Life is as much about the day to day as it is the once in a lifetime, and when we accept that, I personally think everything becomes a lot more fulfilling.
If you are always counting down, thinking of what is next, you live in a state of flux. It may lead to anxiety that you are not doing enough with your days. It could leave you with a nervous fear of missing out as you convince yourself it will all be worth what you’re counting down towards in the long-run. At the end of the day, you could miss many memories and opportunities if you don’t enjoy the small stuff, the bits in between, the happy fillers.
There’s no harm in reliving great memories with friends, or looking forward to what may come next. That motivates us, inspires us and teaches us. However it shouldn’t come at the expense of not enjoying your moment right now.
I have endometriosis, and the reality of that is sometimes things I have been so excited for, escapes and travels I have planned, or big work trips I have looked forward to, get cancelled with little to no notice, and it sucks. You never know what can happen, so don’t place all your excitement on one future event or one past memory.
If like me you are wanting to have a count-down detox, or stop day-dreaming about what has passed, here are a few tips to get you on track:
Reflect every day
Write a few sentences a day to capture how you are feeling, what you’ve done that day, the small things we often gloss over. A song you heard and loved, food you ate and enjoyed, a random act of kindess. By being more conscious about the little things, we build better habits for living in the moment.
I use a line a day five year diary and I love it.
If you find yourself thinking more about what has passed, or talking regularly about what is to come, try and naturally get yourself back into the here and now. Change the way you converse about the day to day.
Ask yourself, what am I doing right now? What can I hear? What can I see? Why am I doing what I am doing today?
It’s a quick way to bring you right back into the moment, and to relish in those thoughts.
Find a balance between living and planning
Quite often, when I have been organizing something big and exciting such as our wedding, big travel plans or house moves, I tend to put all my energy into this one event, even months ahead of it.
I decline plans to dedicate time to the ‘future event’, I sit and plan all evening (I love a notebook!) and I am probably horrendous to talk to as I seem to have a one-track conversation.
A couple of years ago I found that by doing this, I would miss out on little moments running up to the event, and actually, once it had passed I either got stuck reminiscing, or felt a gap where I needed to fill it with another big event.
Now, no matter what we are looking forward to and have planned, I also try to make sure we live in the here and now at the same time. I often ask myself, if I don’t do this because of what’s planned, will that opportunity still be there for me in the future? Is it something I might miss out on? If the answers yes, then grab your chance and live in the now. Don’t risk a future of looking back and wishing ‘what if’.
One thing isn’t going to be the defining event that makes your life memorable. It’s everything together that makes it a journey you want to be part of.
Love the little things
Go for dinner in the week with friends, enjoy walks with no destination in mind, and spend an afternoon reading just because you want to.
When we let ourselves really indulge in what we enjoy, rather than what we think we should be doing, we live more in the moment, and we feel better about it.
Put down the social media
Lastly, if you really are feeling like you are stuck in yesterday, or wishing away the weeks, social media might not be helping.
Stop scrolling back through your memories, or looking for inspiration on where to go, what to consume or what to do next.
Instead, put the phone away, and focus on what you could be doing right now, or post more of the tiny day to day joys instead of the big moment pictures.
Listen to your body
Often when we are really not living in the moment we don’t listen to what our body is telling us we need. Tired? Sleep more. Craving something sweet? Indulge.