How to Stay Present When You Need to Plan Ahead

Staying ‘present’ in your life is known to have many benefits for your mind, concentration levels, relationships, and most importantly, your happiness. Learning to ground yourself more in the present moment is incredibly important; after all, you don’t want to feel trapped, worrying about the past, or getting anxious about the future.

However, when you hear or see the words ‘relax… be in the now…enjoy the present moment…’ is there still a part of you that is just left feeling confused?

Perhaps you have a to-do list of the length of your arm, deadlines to meet, or are working towards making a dream of yours a reality? If so, then the question is – just how do you manage to remain present and give each moment your full attention, whilst trying to juggle the demands of the real world?

Being in the present moment can feel far from practical in plenty of situations, but there IS a solution. If you want to enjoy the ‘here and now', whilst still being able to plan for your future, then you’ve simply got to make the following distinction:

‘Is this worrying, or planning?’

Planning for the future happens in the present moment, whereas when you’re worried, you’re taking your mind out of it.

For example, if you have a big job interview coming up and you’re thinking ‘Oh no, what if they don’t like me? What if I don’t get the job?’ – then this is worry.

When you’re worrying, you’re projecting into a future that hasn’t happened yet, over things that you cannot control. This is completely different from when you’re planning ahead for the things that you can control; like prepping for the interview, asking a friend to do some practice questions with you, or preparing a resume. These are all things you can plan ahead for, whilst keeping yourself firmly planted in the here and now.

So, any time you find yourself worrying, just stop! Remind yourself that worrying isn’t the same as planning ahead and that you are just putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.

Do What You Can NOW, With What You Have NOW

A lack of planning ahead will also impact your ability to stay in the present moment. After all, how can you fully enjoy the moment when you’ve got unmet deadlines looming in your mind, loose ends, and things that you haven’t planned for?

So ask yourself right now – what worries do I have for the future, that some present-moment planning could resolve for me?

Keep your mind in the present – even when planning ahead – and you’ll experience greater happiness now and even further down the line.