I was having a conversation about the future with my mom recently. We talked about my work, my family, all the possibility that lies ahead and all the work I’ve done and will do to get us there. She’s always been supportive, but she knows the road has not always been easy for me and my family. She’s also not one to offer a lot of wisdom or advice. She’s more likely to simply say that she believes in me and hopes for the best.
That’s probably why it was profound when she interrupted me and said something I can’t get out of my head.
“I know that there’s a lot to look forward to in the future,” she said, “but happiness now is important too. Tomorrow’s not a sure thing, so don’t put everything off for later.”
It’s a simple thought, but it threw me for a loop.
For most of my adult life, I’ve been working toward ‘some day.’
‘Some day, we’ll have our dream house.’
‘Some day, I’ll have the right job.’
‘Some day, I’ll get what I want.’
And I’ve always thought ‘some day’ was an important motivator. Being future-focused keeps me driving forward, it keeps me leaning in. ‘Some day,’ I believed, was the thing that prevent me from being complacent. But my mom was right. If you’re always focused on ‘some day,’ you miss the experience of this day.
We all have things we want out of life – experiences, possessions, achievements. And it’s easy to get wrapped up in those things, to put so much energy and attention on the future that we forget about the present.
The opposite side is equally dangerous. I know people who have given up on ‘some day’ and focus only on ‘I used to…’
‘I used to be able to do this…’
‘I used to have this…’
‘I used to believe this…’
‘Some day’ and ‘I used to’ are drugs. They distract you from the moment. Sure, it’s important to have goals, it’s important to have a vision for where you are going. It’s equally important to have a sense of where you came from. But when you let these things distract you from this moment, you run the risk of living only in vision or memory.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is not a promise. Take time today to be happy, to be grateful, to appreciate the things you have, the things you can do, the people and experiences that surround you.
You are living your story today.
The past is written in ink, but the future is written in pencil. Enjoy what you’re writing right now.