By. Danielle Husband
Through mindfulness I’ve learned to calm my mind and reduce my stress, but I often find myself wondering how I’m going to accomplish things in the future. If I don’t plan and work toward my goals, then how can I succeed?
This thought has really tripped me because worrying about the future stokes my anxiety. At the same time, I worry that staying too rooted in the present will prevent me from reaching my goals in the future. For example, if I don’t fit in time to work on my novel, plan how I will edit it, and know the steps I need to take to publish it, then I may never get it published.
Goals almost always require some level of planning and accountability, but what happens when your mind is consumed with worries and plans for the future? My worries make me miserable, but the fear that I’ll come up short lingers around me. I often think of opportunities as short lived — life may open doors, but they slam shut and change places like in a carnival fun house. I worry that I won’t be close enough to the door to pop in before it closes.
The more I’ve let these fears get to me, however, the more I’ve realized that those fears were a trick of my anxiety. Living in the present doesn’t mean ignoring the future. It just means that you aren’t consumed with your future at the expense of your present, as I have been. I realized that the best way to prepare for my future was to live my life in a way that is consistent with what I want for my future. If I live a life I love, I create the future I want.
Living a life I love means following my passion and spending time each day doing the things that make me happy. It means taking the little steps I need to reach my goal every day, knowing that I’m on the right path for me, regardless of when or if I reach my goal. If I pack my day with the things I want in my life, however small they are in the beginning, they will blossom and grow, becoming my habits.
I used to rush toward a destination — taking too many hours each semester at college, overloading myself so that I could reach a goal faster, and stressing myself out as I tried to stick to unrealistic timelines. But I wasn’t living well, and I never felt like I reached anything. The things I wanted in my life weren’t there, and what I did have felt pointless.
While I sometimes worry that I’m not working hard enough or not focusing enough on the steps to reach success, I know that focusing on living the life I love in the present is the best way to achieve what I want in life. I’m not wasting time that I could be using to get closer to life’s random carnival doors.
Time spent living a life that makes me happy isn’t wasted.