I Have This Terrible Tendancy

I go through each day not acknowledging that THESE are the moments that make up my life, RIGHT NOW. These moments, not tomorrow, and not yesterday either. I wake up each day not actively, intentionally, writing the story of my life.

Once Upon a Time Series

I approach things like I am waiting for my life to begin. Waiting until I have met a man. Waiting until I have kids. Waiting until I have lost fifteen lbs. Waiting until I am a success professionally. Waiting until the summer is over and I am not out-of-town all the time. Waiting until I have reconciled with an old friend. Waiting until 5 o’clock. Waiting until everything is in order.

Or I find myself relishing, over-analyzing, even reliving, days gone by. Back when I had summer vacations. Back when I was in college. Back when I lived in Alabama. Back when I dated the boy that I thought was “the one.” Back when I was a size 4. Back when friendships were simple. Back when I felt like the world was my oyster.

But focusing on the past is futile because those stories have already been penned; and focusing on the future is needless because those stories may never come to be.

This is my life. Right now. All these little moments that make up today. My story is being written RIGHT NOW. And it’s my job to get to make sure that it is an epic story.

“This is the day that Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Do you struggle with this? How do you stay focused on living in the present?

P.S. – You must go right now and buy a copy of Don Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It doesn’t release until September 29, but it is well worth the wait. It will get you thinking about your life from a entirely new perspective. It is a must read!

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Great post – I think most people think this way. Time to realize it’s all about right now.

  • Coming at a good time on my wedding anniversary, this is my life, experiencing it with my bride. Thanks for the lesson! Now off to a wonderful dinner and drinks with friends after. I’m Blessed with a wonderful marriage and amazing friends.

  • My dad used to call this the “I’ll be Happy When” syndrome.

    It takes a sharp knife to separate goals you want to achieve from all of the reasons to be happy today.

    I could go on, but it would be preaching to the choir.

    Great post!

  • i have to remind myself daily to slow down and live in the moment & sometimes i’m not successful. the laundry, dinner, etc can overtake my mind. i think i realize it more with my son. he’ll never be this age again. sometimes it simply takes me stopping and taking a deep breath and forcing my mind to live in the now.

  • This will sound stupid to some. Even though it appears I’m kind of comparing a dog to a child, I’m really just trying to make a point.

    I used to play solataire sitting on the floor in our family room. McKenzie, a little white ball of fluff-n-love, decided that was an invitation for him to drag out all of his doggie toys to play.

    With me.

    Sitting there, cards spread out on the carpet, I had a choice. I could force McKenzie away from me, or I could abandon my plan of the moment.

    When I realized our time together would be finite, the decision became easy. I knew I’d never get these moments back. The cards got stacked and Kenz and I played.

    Sometimes, dogs are much wiser than people.

  • jenvdavis

    Great post. I suffer from the same syndrome. In fact, even though I love writing, I didn’t write anything for years because I was waiting for that perfect idea to pop into my head. It wasn’t until this year when I realized I have all the material I need right now. I started writing about my life and my children, and while some might not find an interest in my writing, others have found comfort in what I had to say.

    Only by God am I learning to focus on today. I’m a planner, and I tend to worry, so I have to remind myself of Philippians 4:6-7.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • This is great! How I find myself at times wishing my life away, neglecting the here and now by getting stuck in the past or wishing for the future. And time goes by so quickly. How we need to focus and maximize the present. You’ve expressed it so well.

  • I used to think that this was a struggle that would end when I was an adult. But now, I’m slowly realizing that I’m adult and still keep waiting for life or adulthood to hit.

    I mentor recently talked about this as related to our work and challenged me to give up efficiency for effectiveness. I think it’s a noble but difficult goal. I’m glad to read that I”m not the only one!

  • Dreams : A reality you make. Put it in your mind what you want…
    The dream comes true wherever,whatever, in time…

    Learning to live for today and enjoy every moment as if it is your last ! A challenge we face daily, which will bring true joy…

    Love yourself and others will love you!!!

  • Great blog Lindsey. I think we all get caught up in this feeling from time to time and I have been there lately. Thank you for putting a new perspective on things and making me think about ways to get out of that routine.

    Have a blessed day,


  • yes, I have done this and do this on a regular basis. just yesterday I was “in a hurry” & in my mind “dismissed” the struggles of a
    “Wal-mart” greater to tag my return. I wanted to “GET ON With It”
    I was just short of rude…ugh, really! So shallow somedays. I asked for forgivness. It’s how we treat people that can’t do anything for us that determine our love walk!

  • I know people who ‘think too much.’ They are always in their head so much I wonder do they even know they have a heart?

    The other day a girlfriend was worrying excessively about something that was never going to happen. She was letting these thoughts disrupt the beauty of the moment. I had her place her hand on her heart, close her eyes and remember how powerful she is, how blessed she is and how loved she is. Within a minute, she was back in the present, appreciating the now.

    I am goal oriented person and it helps me stay in the moment. If you truly know your goals, your why and the beginnings of a plan to achieve them, it helps you stay present and know what you should be doing.

    Goals are not only future oriented. They help us to organize, prioritize and focus our time in the present.

    To revel in the present, try making a list of 10 things you are grateful for when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed each night.

    Live Your Dreams,

    Jill Koenig

  • I love your posts! This is so true of all of us, I think. I was actually thinking about writing a post on this too, but maybe I will just share my comments here.

    Our church is leading our High School and Middle School kids through The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Have you read it? If not, it is a must read for everyone. Yesterday, one of the things that really struck me is Screwtape’s(one of the devil’s minions) discussion about Past, Present, Future and Eternity focus. Screwtape’s goal is to keep humans focused on anything but the present moment which he said is most closely related to eternity because God is in the present moment with us. Focusing on the past renders us useless and wistful for days gone by and focusing on the future keeps us focused on uncertainties. Future focus is also often wrought with fear and he said that almost all vices are born out of future focus.

    Our goal should to be focused in the here and now. So how do we do that? I had a friend who would always tell me that when I caught myself living in the future or past to look at my feet, then be where my feet are. It was so simple, yet so complicated. But it works, when I remember it 🙂

    I am finishing up a Bible study by Kelly Minter called No Other gods. Just yesterday, as I was working through the study, I was reading Hebrews 11…verse 15 really caught my eye. “If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.” When I focus on the past, I tend to romanticize it and remember it as better than it really was and it causes me to desire to turn back…but ultimately I dont want to turn back, I want to move forward.

    In our discussion yesterday, we talked about how we do have to be future minded in some ways. When working toward a future goal, our part is to do the footwork, then we leave the outcomes to God.

    Anyways, another long comment. I hate leaving long comments. I am so sorry! It is just something I have beent thinking a lot about lately.

    Great post! Thanks for the discussion!

  • Ali

    I thought this was such a great post, Lindsey, because I think exactly like you do. I am constantly waiting for that special thing to happen (whatever I feel is lacking at the moment). For me, the one thing that helps is to spend time in the company of close friends because they help me to get out of my head, live in the present moment, laugh with them them, and stop thinking my deep thoughts.

    PS If you need to lose 15 pounds, I need to lose 40. You look very cute and in shape in your pictures.

  • whatwouldjaneaddamsdo

    I agree with what you wrote and think you wrote it beautifully. However, I think sometimes the brain uses promises of the future as a coping mechanism. If you are not happy in your life now, sometimes the thought of things getting better or being different in the future keeps one going. Take care.

  • hsina

    I have the same problem there. We sometimes can’t let go of the past because it was a part of our lives when everything just made sense. I also remembered times of high school even before as a child. My mind was never focus on the present. I wanted to achieve on so many level of things that I forget reality. Unable to reach that goal that was to achieve in the beginning but suddenly got distracted. A past is nothing but history but its okay to memorize them and it’s okay to think of the future but you can’t forget what is around you. The present is in the NOW and you would have to live it one day at a time. That is all I can say to probably stay within the present of my surroundings. However good luck and take care!

  • Jessica

    Im right there with ya girl, But recently I have realized every day matters to me, its hard but a great feeling when all of a sudden at 146 in the afternoon you are so happy to be right where you are! 🙂

  • Ah, this is so true. You said it well. I don’t need to say more.

  • Nonprof

    You are wise beyond your years. Unfortunately, I have not come up with a way to overcome this burden. Let’s face it, we are put on this earth and told to wait for the day we will be called home. Maybe all of this other waiting is just practice.

  • Jim

    This seems to be a universal problem in our society. We are constantly told to prepare for the next thing (grade school, high school, college, job, marriage, promotion, kids, another promotion, retirement) and basking in the “now” is seen as slacking. My father used to warn me each time I’d start a sentence with “I can’t wait until…” He’d always say, “Don’t wish your life away.”

    Now that my daughter is ten and it seems like she was just born yesterday I know what he meant. You have to grab something in each day and make it worthwhile. Any day that blurs into the next is a day that has been wasted. It doesn’t have to be anything big. A conversation with a friend can be enough if you give it 100% of your attention. The easiest way to let time slip by is to let the future preempt the present.