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Tips for Staying Present and Why I Bought A Goldfish

September 3, 2013

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I was talking to a friend the other day about staying present. We are both very organized and spend a lot of time talking about future plans. I mentioned that I was trying to “live in the moment” and “stay present” to which she responded: “If I’m always living in the moment, how will I ever get anything done in the future?”

This conversation really got me thinking about the difference between having a clear, organized plan for the future and relying too much on the future plan. I will be the first to get on my soapbox and preach about the importance of having goals and planning for the future. You should see how many personal and professional goals I have written in my calendar one month, six months, even a full year in the future. For me, it’s incredibly helpful and important to know where I’m headed. It helps me figure out the best path to getting there.  

But sometimes, it seems that every decision I make and every opportunity that comes up has my mind automatically calculating where this choice will put me six months from now. I even find myself thinking things like, “Once I get a new job I’ll be happy, or once I lose five pounds I’ll be happy.”

The funny thing is I’m not unhappy now. By thinking about all the things I’m going to do to achieve “happiness” in the future, I’m letting the present pass me by.  Does this sound like you? If it does, you might find these tips as helpful as I do to stay present and enjoy life.

Schedule time to plan

Sounds like the opposite of what we are trying to achieve, doesn’t it? I find that when I have designated time in my schedule to plan for my future, whether this means looking for a job, planning a vacation, or applying for school, I am able to relax and enjoy my life more the rest of the time.

Call your mom and your best friend

You heard it a million times; nothing matters more than your relationships. It’s true. If you look back at the last year of your life, chances are the memories you savor the most are times spent with your loved ones. Spending undivided time with them now will allow you to live in the present and create unforgettable memories.

It’s OK to do things that just sound fun

Interested in taking a pottery class but not sure it will get you anywhere with your career? Don’t worry about it! Make a conscious effort to do things you enjoy with people you love just for fun.

Buy a goldfish

Or an orchid or a cookbook. Buy something that you love, that brings you joy every time you look at it. For me, it’s a goldfish. His name is Bubbles and he lives on my desk right next to my computer. When I get into crazy planning mode, I look to Bubbles for a pleasant reminder to soak up the beauty in the world and not let life pass me by.

Do you have any tricks to stay present?