He had worked for a top firm. A successful 15-year run since undergrad, capped off with a promotion to managing director. Comfortable financially, but there was a nagging feeling. Something was missing. Plus, he rarely gave his wife and two young children his best energy, or undivided attention. So he made some changes. Switched industries. Changed roles. Relocated his family. A thinker. An optimizer. All about efficiency. Always in a rush.
My client had reached out to me because the nagging feeling was back. Better for a while, but it had returned. Convinced he needed to make more changes. Wanted answers to his questions—had he made the right choices? Was he on the right path? On a quest to find meaning. A sense of purpose. A feeling of peace. Based on our conversations I believed he was trying to engineer an optimal life via hacks and metrics.
Struggling To Be. Here. Now.
As soon as we turn to memories of the past, or projections about the future, we divide our attention between the object of our focus and the moment we’re experiencing. Often we aren’t even aware this is happening. But as long as our energy is being split, there will always be a sense of conflict, or stress in the mind. The more we can be aware of this shift of focus and sense of struggle, the more we can actively choose to be present.
We explored and discussed many different perspectives and possibilities around his nagging feeling:
What if, instead of getting lost in the past—lamenting mistakes made, choices squandered, and opportunities lost—he forgave himself? Made peace with it. Instead, was grateful for the experiences that had strengthened his resilience. The challenges that had developed his capacity for genuine compassion.
What if, instead of worrying about the future, he released any expectations for how life should play out? Didn’t try to control outcomes. Witnessed the present unfold naturally. Trusted he was exactly where he should be.
What if, it’s perfectly possible to reflect on the past and plan for the future, while still being in the present? Show up fully. Everyone getting his best energy, wife and children included.
What if, his quest to optimize his life via hacks and metrics doesn’t produce the inner peace and equanimity he’s seeking?
Living Life Is As Important As Examining It
My client doesn’t need to have it all figured out, to be able to live his life. He won’t find any metrics capable of measuring the impact he has had, or will have. No hacks can make him more present for his life, or his family. Open him to the meaning and beauty of what’s right in front of him. Help him recognize there is no perfect place to get to—only here and now. The past has come and gone. And the future is not guaranteed.
He can find value and a real release from simply living his life. Not worrying about whether he’s on the right path. Instead, taking relief and finding comfort in the everydayness of life—folding laundry, washing dishes, and putting away the groceries. An equanimity that comes from doing these things and staying present while he does them.
So the next time you find yourself struggling to be. Here. Now. Consider forgiving yourself for the past and making peace with the future. So that you can stay present for your life. For today. Try and make today a good day—go for a walk in nature. Connect with friends. Be with your children. Read a book. Do whatever brings you joy. You will find that some of the stress in your mind can be alleviated, just by being present for your life.
Easier said than done, right? Of course. How do I know?
I was just like this client of mine 5 years ago.
Minus the wife and kids, but you get the idea. I too was stuck in the trap of wanting, while having. Of not being present. If I can come out of this self-imposed suffering, anyone can. Let me help you. If you find you’re examining your life, more than you’re living it, and struggling to be present, shoot me an email and we can talk.