Last year, I had one of those conversations that just sticks with you. The type you reflect on often and that ends up playing a big role in your life.
One of my entrepreneur friends and I were talking about the lives we felt we were “supposed” to be living. You see, both of us came from corporate jobs where we felt trapped in the routine of just surviving the daily grind and living for the weekend. We had become caught up in the cycle of constantly living for tomorrow, with our eyes firmly glued ahead.
Living For Tomorrow
How many of us go through life every day with “tomorrow” on a pedestal? Living for some magical future state when all will be right in our world?
We think “I just have to make it until…”
5pm (or 9pm!) when we can finally leave the office.
Friday when we get a few days off.
That next vacation when we can relax.
Or we think “I’ll be happy when…”
I meet the right guy.
We get engaged/married/have a baby/have a second baby, etc.
I finally pursue that passion of mine.
Whatever you fill in the blank, it’s the pursuit of something down the road that gives us the will to continue.
That’s Just How It Is
Between our family, friends, and society, it seems like just about everyone is living for tomorrow. It’s just life. Life’s just hard. That’s just how it is.
Work even seems to be scheduled in a way that glorifies tomorrow: We’re rewarded with time off. Vacations are scarce. We have to work hard now if we want to play hard later.
The Problem With Tomorrow
The problem, though, is that tomorrow is never enough.
First, it’s fleeting. That week long vacation is over before you know it and it may be your only trip of the year. The end of the work day may come, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be back in the office 12 hours later. “Tomorrow” is a temporary state.
Second, it’s under pressure. When you put something on a pedestal, there is a risk of it not meeting your expectations. Living for the weekend is made worse by the weekend being rained out by stress or unforeseen circumstances. How many Sunday nights have you thought you need another weekend, just to recover? Or wished you had a do-over?
Third, and arguably most dangerous, it makes us fast forward through today. When we live for tomorrow, we render ourselves powerless, motivated by a dangling carrot in the distance. We’re so focused on the end of that tunnel that we aren’t appreciating our surroundings.
Living for Today
The beautiful thing is that we have the power to shift our thoughts, beliefs, and actions to better live for today. Here are a few ways to do just that.
Find Your Purpose
This is a big and loaded topic, and certainly not an overnight endeavour. As I share in my video about how to find your passion, there are many ways to hone in on what really makes you tick and what will ultimately bring you joy from doing.
Whether it be something as big as a radical career shift to taking a night course in an area of interest to smaller tweaks in the type of projects you pursue at work, doing more of what you love will make today more enjoyable. I’m also a big proponent of starting a side hustle since it empowers you to to explore a passion and make money doing it. (My posts about choosing the best side hustle for you and side hustles you can start from home are good resources.)
Make Small Changes
How can you either better structure or improve your day to make it better? If you love podcasts and binge-listen on weekends, could you start listening to them every morning on your walk to work give you a boost? If you’re a big fan of Caribbean vacations, could you learn to make piña coladas at home to treat yourself to a beachy drink once a week? (Tropical Tuesday, anyone?)
Spend some time brainstorming what it is about “tomorrow” that you crave, and explore ways to integrate these things into your daily life.
Recognizing and appreciating what you do have (in the present!) can go a long way in taking your today to the next level. While you may prefer Saturdays to Mondays, what does rock about Mondays? Do you have awesome colleagues? A great weekly meeting with funny people? An awesome desk? A cute calendar?
Make note of what you’re grateful for (from big to small!) and you’ll be surprised at how much positive there is in the present. (Looking for more ways to practice gratitude? I have you covered.)
While there are several ways to be more present, as I talk about in my book, meditation has numerous benefits. Try to spend even 5 minutes a day being still and focusing on your breath. This can really help your focus and interrupt frenzied thinking, slowing things down and allowing you to be more mindful.
Another approach is trying to be more present in the moment. Take in your surroundings by looking around, listening better, absorbing the sounds and smells, and being more open. If you look for the positive, you just may just find it in the day-to-day routine you had become tired of.
It can be easy to get caught up in living for tomorrow. My challenge for you is to break this cycle and use these insights to shift both your mindset and actions. What steps can you take today to make your present one you love? Leave us a comment and let us know!