How do we live in the present moment when, presently, we must plan for the future? And what does it look like to plan for the future while living in the present moment so that our anxiety about tomorrow doesn’t overshadow our joy today?

Here, we will explore some effective ways to plan for the future while remaining mindfully present.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1……. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Do you remember what it felt like to welcome in the year 2020? All over the world, people rallied together to celebrate a new beginning and reflect on all that occurred in 2019: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We set new year’s resolutions and filled our vision boards with hopes and dreams. This year would be different. This year, we would finally accomplish all that our hearts desired. But these plans were foiled once we were suddenly faced with an unexpected global pandemic this March. We were then all faced with the same pressing question: How do I plan for anything when the future seems so uncertain?

Since this spring, we’ve all been encouraged and, in some ways, forced to live in the present moment. But what does that actually mean?

I have kids to feed, deadlines to meet, goals to reach, places to go, and people to see. So, again, how do I plan for the future while remaining present? I’m now constantly worried that my ‘normal life’ is being threatened. I can’t just pretend that the future doesn’t exist! I worry about tomorrow because my yesterday was tough.

Okay, take a deep breath. Let’s unpack this.

Below, you will find three daily reflection questions needed to move forward on your journey: 

Tip #1: Be flexible.

The first tip to remaining present is exercising your ability to be flexible. We have to learn that life is full of twists and turns. As much as we’d like to think we have an internal GPS system to constantly navigate us through life, we must embrace detours. There are times when we will have to maneuver through construction sites, potholes, and sometimes the occasional crash site. The sooner we accept this reality, the sooner we lift the burden slowing us down on our journey to present moment living.

Ask yourself: How can I relinquish the false belief that things will always go my way today?

Tip #2: Be creative.

The second tip that truly is the gas to fuel your present moment journey is learning to be creative. Our need for flexibility stems from the unpredictable terrain of life. Creativity, then, is how we navigate that terrain. This year has not turned out how most of us had expected. We have seen schools, small businesses, salons, gyms, churches, and many other entities deemed ‘non-essential’ close down this year. But from much tragedy has followed much creativity. We were challenged to reconsider our means to our ends. As people have had to adapt and roll with the punches, the world of virtual learning has exploded, and communities have been fostered online. We’ve seen social-distancing parades being used to celebrate birthdays, therapists and clients braving the world of telehealth, and park attendances increasing rapidly. This is what creativity cultivates in our lives: results, even in the midst of trial!

Ask yourself: How can I think outside of the box to honor my needs today?

Tip #3: Be realistic.

Now that we have considered the need for flexibility and creativity, let us end with a simple tip for planning in the midst of uncertainty: Set realistic goals each day. If you are like me, you have a giant to-do list that seems to never end as items are constantly being added on an almost-hourly basis. I have found it helpful to live by the following mantra: I will accomplish what I can with the time, energy, and resources I have today. Oftentimes, we underestimate the amount of emotional and physical energy, time, and resources we have to give. Below is a simple exercise to help you craft your goals, thus creating a realistic daily to-do list.

Ask yourself: What are three realistic goals I will accomplish today?

What do I need to accomplish these goals?

  • Time limit (What time limit will I set for this goal?)
  • Resources (Do I have the tangible and intangible resources needed to accomplish this goal?)
  • Energy (Do I have the proper emotional and physical energy needed to accomplish this goal? *Or do I need to take a break to replenish or ask for help?)

Have patience with yourself along your journey, and you will soon see sights of the fruition of your goals simply by taking small, intentional steps each day. Start today by relinquishing the need for control, practicing creativity, and setting realistic daily goals.

Connect with Perspectives Therapy Services to discuss your needs.

Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland, Fenton and New Hudson, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.