A lesson I have learned to take to heart recently, and one which I can be heard speaking of frequently, is the importance of living in the now.
Any friend or family member of mine could tell you that I'm a planner by nature; I don't feel comfortable walking into any situation unless I have a rough framework in mind of what to expect. Although I believe that planning is crucial to every aspect of an intentional life, sometimes it's easy to focus on that planning process to the exclusion of living in the present, and that's not okay.
I've known leaders who directed all of their focus into foresight, in order to be able to expect the unexpected. I've known leaders who spent most of their time reflecting on past experiences, to learn from those. Both of these strategies are important aspects of strong leadership, but they can't become the primary focus.
I recently read an excerpt from Dr. Stephen Muses's newest book, Being Bread, that speaks to this same issue by telling the story of his date's experience the night of their High School prom. According to Dr. Muse,
When she met me at the front door of her home she gushed “I can't wait to get to the restaurant!” At the restaurant, the essence of our dialogue was her exuberance, “I can't wait to get to the prom!” At the prom, vague memories remain of awkwardness and feeling self-consciously alone, but most of all, her now cheery refrain, “I can't wait to get to the party!” At the party… she went to sleep.
Whether you're a dreamer, a planner, or someone who tends to dwell on the past, it's important to acknowledge any tendency you have to drift away from the present and miss the beauty of life in front of you. If you struggle with this (as I do, every day), you need to intentionally refocus your thoughts on the present, and here are five reasons why:
- As a living, breathing human being you live exclusively in the now. This is where everything happens, and if you're not mentally in the now, you're not experiencing life.
- Spiritual warfare is real and ever-present. The easiest way to lose a battle is to be focused somewhere else when the fight begins.
- The challenge to do the next right thing arises all the time. If you're not mentally prepared when the time comes, you're not likely to make the right call.
- The conscious decisions that lead to personal growth and effective leadership always happen in the now. They may be thought out and planned ahead, but they mean nothing until they are acted upon at a specific point in time.
- And finally, relationships. Whether it be with friends, family members, or a romantic interest, there are some relationships that are important to you. Relationships are cultivated through intentional investment in the present, whenever that may be. Without that focus on the present, relationships quickly become stagnant, or cease to develop at all.
Question: Do you have a tendency to drift away from the present?