7 Ways to Plan For The Future & Still Be Present
It seems to be a recurring theme in my life - my inability to sit still.
Every few years I feel like something has to change. I constantly have to be planning for the future. We are a people who have been trained to be in constant pursuit of what comes next.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Are you willing to relocate? What future goals do you have for yourself? Are you dating anyone? Have you met anyone?
These are all questions I have been asked over the past few years both in job interviews, on job applications, and even at family holiday gatherings.
Needless to say, it is easy to see how we have become a society that is constantly focused on the future and endlessly distracted from the present.
Here are 7 ways that have helped me to plan for the future while also being fully present:
1. Be Grateful
How important this is.
Today's society promotes an environment of discontent.
We are constantly unhappy with or ungrateful for what we have. We are stuck in a vicious cycle of comparison with all of our friends and followers on Facebook and Instagram convinced that we will never have enough. We resort to trying to find ways to catch up. We end up working harder, longer hours, and sacrificing what we truly are striving for - a better life.
Too often we get so caught up in what we want in someone else's newsfeed and in our imaginary futures filled with greener grass, bigger houses, and a better life, that we miss out on the truth - the truth that there is beauty in every season. In every moment, something to be grateful for.
2. Make Time For Quiet Time
There are very few moments throughout the day when I can sit in complete silence; undistracted from screens, noise, and crazy schedules. But it is vitally important if we want to live a life of joy and peace and not one over burdened by the constant pace society calls to live at.
Quiet time allows us to have just a few moments of reflection every day. It ultimately renews our minds, re-energizes our souls, and realigns our hearts with where we want to be focused and who we should be focused on.
3. Step Outside
Not just outside into nature, but it's important that we step outside of our own lives. Try and see things from a different perspective. Often times we are our own worst critiques. It's important that we have mentors and a loving community around us that we can ask for advice and guidance from.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in a thought or idea we have that we forget to step back and really evaluate the road we are going down.
Will this decision help me or hurt me in where I want to go? Am I too busy for this right now? Do I need to stop saying yes and say no more?
When we take a step back, time and friends and mentors can reveal these things to us.
4. Appreciate Moments
Our lives are filled with a series of moments. Many of which we won't remember. Often times when we try and make plans we lose sight of what is happening right now. If we want to live purposeful and meaningful lives, it is important that we pay attention to moments. Little victories, as my friend called them today. Because that's really all life is about - the little victories and the special moments that make up a great life.
Good moments make good memories, good memories make good stories, and good stories make for great lives.
And even when we have a hard time grasping for a good moment, the moments we struggle through can make for good lessons. And good lessons make us strong, wise, and compassionate friends, counselors, and family members.
5. Make Plans, Expect Changes
While it is important to live in the present, we can and should still make plans.
Without plans there is no chance any of your dreams will come true.
"Those who fail to plan, plan to fail." -Winston Churchill
It is however important that we do not make our plans our idols.
We must consult scripture and prayer for intervention and that we discuss with community and mentors for guidance.
Scripture tells us that we may have many plans in our hearts but that the Lord's purpose will prevail (Prov. 19:21). It doesn't say don't make plans, it just says that we should be prepared and open to let the Lord mold our hearts and desires (Ps. 37:4).
6. Practice Contentment
This one I struggle with the most. How can I be content and still have dreams? How can I be content and still make plans?
It may seem contradictory but contentment is key to being fully present and still fully capable of setting goals for ourselves.
If we aren't okay with where we are we will never be okay with where we are.
Meaning - if I'm not okay today with where I am, when I get to where I think I want to go, I will still not be okay.
I will always want more.
When we fail to be content, even the biggest dreams will never satisfy us.
7. Keep Dreaming
The most common misconception I personally have with being present is that it can make me feel like I am not allowed to dream.
But that could not be further from the truth.
We can both be present and still dream. And it is so important that we do.
God has placed desire and passion in our hearts for a reason.
He has given us gifts that he calls us to use and to use to great lengths. He calls us to glorify him in all that we do (1 Cor. 10:31-32). He wants us to have dreams and to do great things. And he wants to be the center of those things.
Whether our dreams come in small or large proportions, whether they come true or if we live a life of constant pursuit - if we glorify Him while we pursue them, we will always be fulfilled, content, and fully present.
Ultimately, our God is a God of great dreams and great plans. His only ask of us is that we walk and abide in Him as we walk through them.