I will admit: I am very much a person who focuses on the future. As a result, I can often become anxious and worried about the unknown. Heck, with the epiphanies my husband and I have been having about our future plans, my brain is constantly thinking about the Future every day. A mega-planner at heart, it is hard for me to accept this and live in the ‘now’. My husband explained to me that this makes me the ‘rock’ of our relationship, where I am definitive in my plans and can find it difficult to be flexible. However, he is like ‘water’: he is willing to be flexible, but requires more direction and reminders for urgent tasks. From these observations and lots of conversations since, I’ve gained a few tips on how I can focus on the present. Here’s some I’d like to share with you:
-Find little things in every day to look forward to.
Sometimes, it can be hard to stay motivated in a day filled with normal, mundane tasks – even more so if you’re like me and like to let the mind wander and think about plans for the future. To counteract this, I’ve given myself small and minor, yet constant, events through the day that I look forward to. For me, this includes seeing the sunrise/colours of the sunrise as the sky clears in the morning, having my cup of green tea and mint when I start work, having a post-work cuddle at home, and writing my blogs each week. While these tasks can be ones I need to do each week, I find that allowing these to be things that I look forward to, rather than adding them to the routine and schedule of things in the present, a very therapeutic thing.
-Appreciate the monotony and familiarity of the now
When future plans eventuate and actually happen, I’ll probably look back and wish I had the time and energy to do things. The value of circumstances in the present is that you’re familiar with them, or even that you know how to complete them to the best of your ability with little-to-no challenges. The future does bring opportunities which will, perhaps, require learning new tasks, tackling unfamiliar challenges and bring unexpected variety. Therefore, having scenarios and circumstances you can control, or at least handle with ease, is a blessing in disguise. Make use of the peace until the future comes knocking.
-Use your current down-time to your advantage
DO THINGS. Rather than spending idle time worrying about what could happen next, use the time to work on things that you’re passionate about, or things that you won’t have time to do later on. For example, I’ve been using my spare-time (both in actual time and brain time) to think about and work on this blog, as well as trying out new hobbies and even exploring the skills I’d like to learn from an educational perspective. I’ve discovered so much from using my idle time to research, seek advice, make enquiries and try out so many things I never thought I’d have time to consider.
-Do things that benefit others, rather than focusing too much energy on yourself.
Being so future-focused can mean that you can get tunnel vision and start focusing a lot on yourself/your loved ones. As such, I’ve been actively trying to find things I can do in the present which will make a difference to others. Volunteering is such an awesome way of doing this. I’m just about to start a volunteering program, where I will be mentoring a high-school student from a low socio-economic background and helping them discover their future career and educational aspirations. I’m so excited about this opportunity, and it will give me a chance to help someone else’s future rather than focusing solely on my own.
-Give yourself time in the day to think about the future, and time when you will focus on not thinking about it.
Sometimes, the key to conquering an overactive brain that loves to consider ‘what-ifs’ and worries about the future is simple. Set yourself a specific time to worry, and then also set a specific time where you will focus your energy on other things. Sometimes, scheduling time to worry can help the brain from wandering at later stages, as you’ve allowed yourself the time to debrief and get it all out of your system. Giving priority to the worry for that specific timeframe can help you focus, and can help the mind to not over think itself for the remainder of the day.
Those are a few of my tips, anyway! Do you have any advice for how to live ‘in the now’?
This post was polished by Page & Parchment.