“Be clear about the results you’re trying to accomplish...The very worst thing in the world is to do very efficiently what need not be done at all.” - Brian Tracy, Strategic Thinker.
The world is changing. People’s personal paradigms are shifting. The stoic views of old have been replaced by buzz words such as passion and life-fulfillment. Modern philosophy, born out of these paradigm shifts, stresses living in the moment and pursuing your life’s calling. Whether it be work life or personal life, people are attempting to find purpose in a personal passion.
One of the leading philosophies regarding finding your calling is the philosophy of living in the present moment. By living in the present, we rid ourselves of mind clutter and are able to see our passions clearly. We are able to see what matters the most in our lives.
The Power of Now, a book written by modern philosopher Echart Tolle, champions the idea of living in the now. People, as Tolle describes it, are constantly living in the past or focusing too far into the future, causing all of the negative emotions felt by humans. Living too far into the past causes people to latch on to anger or jealousy, and living too far into the future causes people to feel anxiety and worry. Living in the present moment, Tolle teaches, is the only way to be truly calm and happy with oneself.
While some of this may sound “woo-woo,” there is a lot of truth. If you take a moment to think about it (go ahead, think), very rarely do we live in the present moment. We as humans are naturally thinking about the past or projecting the future, rarely taking stock of the now.
When we make a conscious effort to live in the present moment, it’s immediately clear what a calming feeling it causes. Living in the now forces us to let go of the past, stop worrying about the future, and act naturally in our present state. Not only does it free us of the emotional weight we carry with us, but it has social and professional benefits as well. When you come from a place of presence, you are able to form deeper connections with people, act loose and free in given social or business settings, and genuinely enjoy each moment as its own personal life lesson.
You can practice living in the now by getting intentional. Meditate 10 minutes every day or focus on your breathing when you have down time - i.e. on your commute home, while you’re waiting in line, or while you’re on hold with that bank you always complain about.
BUT, by subscribing fully to the newage beliefs of constant presence, we lose focus on our long-term goals. The endgame.
As Steven R. Covey tells us, we need to “begin with the end in mind.” What situations, actions, or connections can we take or make in order to achieve our lifelong goals? Covey, a stalwart of timeless practices, champions the idea of envisioning your future.
“One of the main things (Dr. Charles Garfield’s) research showed was that almost all of the world-class athletes and other peak performers are visualizers,” Covey wrote. "Then, when you get into a situation, it isn’t foreign to you. It doesn’t scare you.”
While remaining in the present moment is important for many reasons, placing too much focus on the present causes your life to stray from it’s path to success. Visualizing where you want to be in the future gives yourself direction and purpose. What you see and believe you can achieve, as the saying goes.
My entire professional world is the startup ecosystem. For a lot of us startup techies, the endgame is where we place our sole focus. An exit - an acquisition or IPO - is what often measures the success of a startup. But if we as business owners and operators focus too far into the future, we lose sight of the present moment, and vice versa. Often times it’s making incremental daily changes and enjoying the daily progress toward a worthy goal that allows you to achieve the goal in the first place. You need to have a balance of momentary presence and long-term focus to ultimately achieve a successful exit.
Keeping focused on your long-term goals will help your actions in the present moment, and paradoxically, staying present to the moment will cause your daily actions to align with the goals of your future.
If we’re able to take a step back from our brain, our thinking mind, as Echart Tolle calls it, and use our feelings in the present moment to steer our lives toward our long-term goals, we will not only carve a path to success - we will carve the only path to success.
- Take a second to reflect on how often you are actually present to the moment
- Often times it takes intentional change - i.e. daily meditation - to become more aware of the now
- Remaining present to the moment will cause you to not only become happier, but will help you identify your passions
- Keeping a balance of momentary presence with long-term focus will help you achieve your goals and live the life you intended