I am a very forward thinking person. I am constantly thinking about what I’m doing tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, in 10 years. Ever since I was young, I’ve had a plan. My friends and I used to talk about it for hours – how old we’d be when we got engaged, what age we’d get married, what age we’d have children. As I’ve got older, those plans have obviously changed, I’ve learnt that it’s impossible to plan your wedding date until you’ve met someone who wants to marry you! But in a lot of ways I still have a plan. I still want to buy a house by a certain age, have children by a certain age.
In many ways, this is no bad thing – goals are something to work towards, something to motivate me. Knowing I want to buy a house in the next 5 years encourages me to get a good job, to save, and to work hard. But at the same time, getting too hung up on these goals can lead us to forget where we are in the now. On a basic level, it might mean I choose to take a job that’s better paid, but less well suited to me, because it means I’ll meet my goal in time. It means that I am conscious that I don’t want to spend too much money on travelling, because that money could go towards a house deposit.
On another level, it means we are so busy planning tomorrow that we end up sacrificing today. Instead of really appreciating what we have whilst we have it, we spend too much time thinking about what we can have in a year, two years, five years, ten years. When in reality, no one knows what the next hour will bring let alone the next decade.
If I look back on the past few years of my life, I am aware that I spend a lot of time looking forward to the next ‘stage’; when I was in primary school I wanted to be in secondary school, when I was 16 I wanted to be 18. Even now, in my final year of university, I am excited for the day I can graduate and start my career. But I know that in a year’s time I will look back and wish that I made the most of this time more, and wish that I had lived in the moment instead of always looking forward. I will wish I had been content with what I had at the time – a flat in London, the best friends, a loving family, a part time job – instead of spending so much time looking forward that I forgot to appreciate these things. I need to learn to make the most of the moment, by showing how grateful I am to the people I love, by doing things that make me happy, and, as cliché as it is, by living every day like it might be my last. Don’t get me wrong – I know that not every day will be, or can be, a really good day. It’s inevitable that you’re going to look forward to your holiday when you’ve been working for 10 weeks in a row. What I’m saying is not that we shouldn’t be excited or plan for the future, but instead that we shouldn’t let this take over from the present.
Every day we are reminded that life is preciously short and the future painfully uncertain. The mass shootings in America, the wildfires in California, the knife crimes in London. We only need to glance at a headline, or at our phones, to be reminded that no matter who you are, or what you do, nobody knows what tomorrow holds – which makes it futile to spend so much time planning it. The time we have now we will never get back. Life is too short to wake up tomorrow with regrets. Instead we need to learn to really make the most of every day; to remind ourselves of why we are lucky, and live in the present rather than the future. We need to grab every day and do something, anything, that makes it a good day, whether that be going for a run, taking half an hour to relax, or telling someone you love them.
“Life is the moment we are living right now”..so let’s make the most of every moment.