Let’s talk about future.
It’s a word that carries a promising connotation, yet ironically, future can hold us back.
In a world where success is so often measured by growth – whether its financial growth, reputational growth or economic growth – it’s easy for us to fixate on the future because success only happens with growth, and growth only happens in the future.
While our cultural obsession with the future fuels our daily activity, it simultaneously saps us of wonder, joy, and vitality. This happens because most of us get stuck in what Eckert Tolle describes as an “obsessive need to arrive, to attain, and to “make it”. When all we’re worried about is becoming, we stop paying attention to being.
Instead of experiencing life and all that is has to offer in this very moment, we start adopting an “I will…when” inner framework. It sounds like this:
I will feel accomplished when…
I will feel successful when…
I will be able to relax when..
I will live life how I want to when…
When this subconscious dialogue becomes the basis for of how we run our lives, we end up missing out on the enjoyment and fulfillment of every moment of every day because we’re not living, we’re just waiting.
And for those of us who find motivation in the optionality, potential and upside provided by a free market economy, this waiting period can often be downright miserable. We put on our superhero suits and game faces, transform into fierce competitors, and use sheer willpower to push through every day, overriding anything that gets in our way…even our contentment.
The examples are plentiful: Pulling late nighters despite how exhausting it feels. Forgoing lunch to squeeze in that extra meeting even though we’re starved, grumpy and cognitively shot. Racing to and from commitments, unable to smile at the beauty and abundance all around us. Using the present as a means to an end, not as an end in itself.
These ideas around paying all your attention to the fruit of your actions instead of your actions themselves, have been opined on since time immemorial by ancient philosophers in many Eastern traditions. In personal growth coaching, we talk about it as focusing on the process, not the outcome.
This wisdom urges us to detach from the future in order to free ourselves to live in the now. When you live in the now, your inner framework changes from “I will…when” to “I am…now”:
I am accomplished now…
I am successful now…
I am able to relax now..
I am able to live life how I want to now…
And when your framework shifts from the future to the now, you’ve won. Your life suddenly becomes more vital, more fresh, more fun and more spontaneous. Your contentment, your fulfillment, and your self-worth are no longer dependent on what will happen in the future. Your ego is no longer craving, desiring, wishing and anxious. You’re free. Because you’re no longer enslaved by the future.
Interestingly, it’s only within this kind of framework that you can become the best version of yourself and unleash the entirely of your genius into the world. With freedom from the future, there is ease in the present, and where there is ease in the present there is joy. And where there is joy, you do your best work. You’re thinking with clarity. You’re living with total energy. You’re killin’ it.
So, what are you waiting for? Don’t be that person who spends your entire life living in the “I will…when” framework. Nothing is guaranteed, so why wait? Don’t let another day, another month or another year go by without freeing yourself from the future. Live and enjoy the NOW. That’s winning. It may be hard to swallow, but that…is true success.
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Originally published on LinkedIn.com