Look in Front of You — Not Behind — to Design the Life You Truly Want
The biggest difference between those who live life on their terms and those who pine for the life they want is a willingness to put the past behind and focus on the present and future. We have no control over the past. We do have control and influence over how we act today and what we do to carve out future plans. Intensive, deep thinking and action form the foundation for personal growth.
My three-year old son is one of the most perceptive people I’ve ever met. He’s brilliant, focused and thoughtful. And yet when we walk around, I sometimes have to make sure he doesn’t walk into a wall or pole. His immersion in thought and reflection on what he’s already seen sometimes leads to him turning back and staring at what’s already come, without looking in front of him.
That’s what leads to the trips, falls and bumps on the head! Ouch!
As his parent, I serve as his “tour guide” to ensure he escapes without bodily harm. He’s infatuated with all the stimuli and amazing things going on in this big, bold world around him. He’s using these experiences to fuel his imagination. He has to grow. He has to try and make sense of things he’s already seen and done. And that’s perfectly fine. But he also has to maintain presence and concern for the moment and future.
I use this analogy as a microcosm for what I feel every one of us faces on our quest for personal growth each day. The hungry and hardworking of us mostly know what will help us and lead us to achieving our goals. We’re instinctively drawn to what’s right and beneficial.
It’s what’s wrong and unhelpful that bogs us down, serving as the “turnovers” or mistakes that wipe out the positive advancements we make. When we dwell on the past and continue to reflect on what’s in our rearview mirror, we stop living in the present and we use less of our creative imagination on designing our future plans.
Intense focus and absorption on the moment leads us to a bolder thinking around future planning. In fact, the more we plan for deep-thinking moment-by-moment, the more we pave the path for our future of continuous progression toward our goals. Take this concept of flow from psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which illuminates the need for building for our next step.
“To set the stage for flow, goals need to be clearly defined so that you always know your next step. ‘It could be playing the next bar in a scroll of music, or finding the next foothold if you’re a rock climber, or turning the page if you’re reading a good novel. At the same time, you’re kind of anticipating.’”
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