“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it but to enable it.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
It’s a common misconception that being fully present means not setting goals. After all, if you’re truly connected to the now, you’re not thinking of building for later. If you’re awake instead of living on autopilot, you’re more concerned with the wonder of what’s in front of you than the wonder of what’s ahead of you.
I’ve spent a lot of time weighing the options, as if I needed to choose one way of being: peaceful or productive. This left me feeling conflicted, because instinctively, I want both. I want to feel awake in my everyday life, while still allowing myself to have dreams and work toward them. I want to accept and appreciate what is, while imagining and creating what could be.
I’ve realized that while mindfulness can help us feel a greater sense of happiness, life satisfaction generally requires a balance of being and planning.
As beautiful and freeing as it is to immerse ourselves in the moment, we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t devote a least a little time to shaping the ones to come. As liberating as it is to simply be, we risk growing complacent and stagnant if we forget we are always evolving.
There is a reason abundant research shows that goal-setting leads to happiness: recognizing our potential and then utilizing it gives us a sense of empowerment, growth, and pride. Life happens now, but our lives are more than any isolated experience. We owe it to ourselves to question what it is we really want to do, and how we’re going to do it.
John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” He was right. But sometimes planning is a perfectly beautiful way to experience life, particularly when it comes from a sense of fullness and possibility, not an sense of dissatisfaction and lack.
So I say dig your heels in today, look around, and appreciate what is. But remember, while enjoying the present, that the future is ours to create.
Photo by Katy Moeggenberg