I am a forward-looking person. I love to dream about the future. I like to envision goals and then work hard to pursue them. I love to put wheels on a dream; that’s fun for me. I really think that’s a healthy part of my personality. It’s a gift that God gave me, but sometimes even our greatest gifts can become hindrances when we use them in unhealthy ways.
My problem is that I get so focused on what is to come while working to make my dreams a reality that I sometimes forget to enjoy the moment. We have to be intentional about living in the present. Read until the end, and I will give you three steps to follow that will help you enjoy living in the present.
Enjoying life in the present is something that I've struggled with most of my life, until the last couple of years. I believe there are many leaders who struggle with the same thing. One of the reasons I struggled with this issue is I was driven by the future as well as my tendency toward prudence and productivity. These qualities motivated me to move forward every day at the expense of living in the present moment. I would struggle to enjoy the process of the work that I was doing. If it was a project that took weeks or months, I would go to work on that project with focus and persistence. Many times, I would struggle to slow down and enjoy the moment as well as the people that I had the privilege of working with.
I had tunnel vision at times, and I would work hard to accomplish the tasks I was responsible for. I experienced something like a high when I completed a task and looked back at what I had accomplished, but then I would crash emotionally. I hate to say it, but I was addicted to the thrill of getting the job done. I failed to realize just how important it was for me to slow down and enjoy the relationships in my life. I struggled with focusing on each step of the process of my work, interacting with the people of God, and using the other gifts the Lord gave me to contribute to a team and loving people.
One time my executive coach told me that I live in a world of structure that doesn't exist for anyone else. That has stuck with me for years now. He was trying to tell me that the unhealthy use of my ability to have vision and prudence to work toward that vision gave me really no life at all. I was missing the big picture of what it means to have a biblical life.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says, “(1) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. (2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not (love), I am nothing. (3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not (love), it profiteth me nothing.” If I do not have the love of Christ or the love of people in my life or the ability to slow down my incessant need to accomplish things, even good things, I will eventually deteriorate the very relationships that bring me the most biblical fulfillment.
My coach told me that I had to soften that drive within me so that I could begin to implement balance. Balance is what helps me slow down and mentally process what is going on around me. It helps me me enjoy what I am doing each day and allows me to minister to the people that may cross my path. The process of finding balance was hard for me, but it was important for long-term fulfillment.
There’s also another side to this issue which I’ve experienced in another season of my life. Despite my tendency to dream about the future and work toward my vision, there have actually been times I didn’t have a clue about the future and I’ve struggled for direction and vision for my life. I can remember a number of years ago praying in the prayer room of our church for direction. I cried out to the Lord because I felt like I was just waking up every morning, living my life, taking care of kids, working at my job, earning a paycheck, going through the motions of life while doing my best to live in the present. Although that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, I felt miserable inside because I knew there was more to life. I was living so much in the present that there was no excitement for the future. I didn’t have anything good to work toward; my life felt mundane, and I felt lost.
I really needed vision for my life. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Okay, Ryan, what are you trying to tell me?” I’m trying to tell you that if you find yourself in either of these circumstances where you’re so busy working toward your vision that you aren’t living in the moment or you’re miserable because you’re not working toward anything, something has to change if you desire to have long-lasting fulfillment in your life.
Honestly, you’re probably not living in a bad place. The way I see it is that you’re actually about half way to where you need to be if you find yourself in either of those places. The key to enjoying life in the present is having balance between those two extremes. There’s a sweet spot where you strive to accomplish a God-given vision for your life in a healthy way while living in the present, enjoying each moment. Though it may feel impossible at times, it is possible to have both. Let me give you a few steps to take so that you can find a balance between both.
Step 1: Have a God-given vision for your life.
Provers 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” It is critical that we have something in our future to work toward. Vision is so important for motivation and fulfillment in life. If you have no vision, you’re not going to enjoy life. I recently wrote in another blog post about how to create that vision. You can read that post here. Even if you feel that you have vision, I encourage you to read my post and review the vision for your life.
Also, let me warn you that not everyone is good at forward thinking; not everyone has that gift. If you struggle with this area of your life after reading my post, be sure to find help from someone that you trust, like a pastor, mentor, or capable peer.
Step 2: Enjoy the moment.
How do you enjoy the moment? There are many different ways, but here’s the way I do it. First, every week when I do my “Start of the Week Sight,” I ask myself this question: What successes did I have in the previous week? Then, I slow down and thank God for what’s been accomplished. For the times when I don’t have a strong answer to that question, I celebrate the fact that I was okay with having a slower, more restful week.
By the way, I also recently wrote a post on “Start of the Week Sight.” It’s called “Learn How to Give Vision to Your Week.” You can access that post here. It’s probably one of the most helpful posts I’ve written to date. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already.
Another thing that I do to help me live in the moment and enjoy each day is to meditate each morning during prayer. I sit in the presence of the Lord and reflect on what’s going on in my life. I give God the opportunity to speak into my life as I give Him my full attention.
Lastly, I try to live my life with margin. This isn’t possible all of the time, but I try to not cram my life so full that I can’t be there if someone important in my life needs me or wants to talk to me. Because I am so structured, I have to force myself to take time for those key relationships in my life. If you need help with creating margin in your life, guess what? I actually have a blog post on that as well. It’s called “How to Create Margin in Your Life.” You can read that post here.
Step 3: Find balance.
It is important that you find balance between establishing your vision for the future and enjoying the moment. When you find this balance, or that sweet spot, it’s amazing how fully you can enjoy life in the present.
If you truly want to learn to enjoy living in the present, I encourage you to follow this three-step process. Step 1: Have a God-given vision for your life. Step 2: Enjoy the moment. Step 3: Find balance between establishing your vision for the future and enjoying the moment. When you enjoy life in the present, you can begin to live life in a healthy and fulfilled way, and that’s exactly where I want to be.
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