Planning Ahead While Living in the Present

posted by Andrea | 06/20/2017
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I’m someone who really enjoys planning ahead, setting goals, and daydreaming about the future — in fact, I just blogged about my “someday daydreams” last week!

I loved one of the comments on that post: “I think dreaming is essential. It doesn’t have to mean we aren’t content with now, but instead adds possibilities and lightheartedness to our hearts.”

This is exactly how I feel about planning ahead, setting goals, and daydreaming. It does NOT mean I’m not content with where I’m at right now — it’s just fun to think about what my future might hold for me someday down the road.

Even though I love thinking and planning for the future, I honestly feel like I do a fairly decent job of intentionally living (and enjoying) the present moments as well…

However, I always try to “keep tabs” on my futuristic planning and thinking to make sure it doesn’t get the best of me! 

So often, I catch myself thinking:

  • once I get past this obstacle, life will be smoother
  • once my kids are older, life will be easier
  • once this house project is finished, life will be less chaotic
  • once Dave is home for the summer, our days will be more relaxed
  • once I finish this next project or to-do, I’ll take time to relax
  • once the kids are in school during the day, I’ll finally have more time to focus on me
  • once our kids are older, Dave and I can finally do some traveling

I often use these types of thoughts as motivation to push through a difficult or trying time… and I certainly don’t think it’s bad or wrong to have goals, dreams, and ambitions, or to be excited about the future.

That said, if I’m not careful, I’m the type of person who can put too much stake in “the future”.

Can anyone relate?

A couple weeks ago, a reader shared the following anonymous quote with me, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my thoughts:


First I was dying to finish high school and start college.
And then I was dying to finish college and start working.
And then I was dying to get married and have a family.
And then I was dying for my kids to get old enough to go to school so I could go back to work.
And then I was dying to retire.
And now, I really am dying……and I realize that I never really lived.


Wow, that really forces us to think about how we live (or don’t live) our current lives! 


As I mentioned above, I’ve always been the type of person to look into the future and wonder about what life might be like in a few months, years, or even decades.

But the fact of the matter is, we can’t ever know for sure.

We can’t even know for sure what will happen in 1 hour, let alone 1 month or 1 year!


Of course, I don’t think we should stop planning for the future or live recklessly, but I DO think this quote is an excellent reminder to live and enjoy life RIGHT NOW… today!

Be excited for your school years to end, but also enjoy learning and socializing and growing as an individual.

Be excited for your upcoming wedding, but also enjoy your last few weeks and months as a single person.

Be excited for the next milestone in your baby’s life, but also enjoy where they’re at right now (even if that’s right in the middle of sleepless nights).

Be excited to get back to your career, but also enjoy your days at home with your children.

Be excited for your huge home renovation or upcoming vacation, but also enjoy the planning process leading up to the renovation or vacation.

Be excited for your upcoming retirement, but also enjoy your days at work.


I’m not an overly sentimental person by any means, but I DO see the value in making our current daily lives a priority over constantly looking ahead to the future. I believe I can be productive and goal-oriented… but still keep my main focus on the “here and now”, trying my best to live and enjoy today.

I might not “enjoy every moment”as the over-used cliche phrase suggests… but I sure enjoy a lot of them!  

I’d love to know if you have any tips or strategies to remind yourself to live in the present.

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  1. Jozie Mader


    I am so happy to be getting your newsletters again! My g-mail services has not been working since last year sometime so I have some catching up to do!
    Here’s what I have to add to your post!

    The other day I was driving in town and saw the most beautiful sunset. Do you know the kind? Like a “make you cry” sunset.
    I thought real quick I should try and drive to this “spot” I like to take pictures at on my road that has a beautiful view and if I could capture it… But that’s 5…7 minutes away… By the time I get there, it would be a completely different sunset. I would miss that “golden hour” and not get to enjoy it at all. And where I was I knew it just was not going to be a “great” picture so I chose to put my jeep in park, got out, leaned up against it and just watch… Right there on the side of the road.
    You know what happened?
    Well, not only, yes, as I was thinking of its beauty did I start to tear up, but I noticed other cars started to stop… And they were taking pictures… And they would drive off…
    I began to understand, it wasn’t the sunset neccessarily that caught their attention, but “what the heck is that crazy lady staring at!” and once they got their sunset photo they were off again.
    What I got most out of this moment, was that life is like a sunset… In many ways! We’re always looking for that golden moment but it never seems to come when it’s convenient to us and we tend to miss it. And thinking about my children… Every moment is a golden moment… Sometimes I have time to look… Sometimes I can snap a quick photo and I’m off… Very rarely do I chose to just lean back and enjoy it.
    Also, people watch you and they will follow you. What holds our attention can be caught by others. There was something about watching that sunset that just made any and all of my worries of that day fall off my shoulders. And I hope that if by my stopping I drew in someone else’s attention that needed to experience that same relief… I’m glad I stopped my hurried life to live in the moment of a sunset.


    Andrea Reply:

    Yay — I’m glad your getting my newsletter again too!

    And thanks so much for the great analogy — this is so true!


  2. Virginia


    I’m a little late in commenting on this post…but went back this morning to reread and was thinking about some of the things you said. Just an observation…since having grandchildren (and I don’t know if things have changed since our kids were little) I notice that they have trouble sometimes living in the present also. For example, when I get out a craft project for them to do or have them help me with a cooking project, they are always asking “what are we going to do when we get this done” instead of just focusing on and enjoying what we are doing at the present time. Like I said, I don’t remember our kids (their parents) doing this when they were that age…and even though it was many years ago, I don’t remember doing that as a child either.


  3. Debbie


    It’s challenging for me at times to plan ahead and still enjoy the moment. The past couple of weekends are examples that makes me realize this. I had a few things in my to do list to get done and because I finished them later than I expected, almost dinner time, I felt so exhausted and looking back I didn’t enjoy the process. I just wanted to get them done instead of enjoying the sunshine, being outside while doing those things. The weekend before that my husband and I drove around a neighborhood with some new home construction. I saw my “contemporary dream house”. We love the contemporary style and always been drawn to it. I wanted to knock on that house’s door and ask the owners who their builder and architect was. I immediately dreamed of our retirement home being in this style. It was so fun to dream about it but I wanted to get all the information now and get it my “future home” file so I’m ready to go when that times comes. Silly! Who even knows if that builder or architect will still be around when we retire. Who even knows if we can afford such a house style. All that week as I’m thinking through that I lost the living in the moment and enjoying our current home. This post reminds me that I need to keep a balance on dreaming, looking forward, and enjoying every moment.


  4. DeeDee


    This post is right on target. I’ve lived so much of my live in a coulda, woulda, shoulda state until I realized I wasn’t living in the moment. I was always rehashing decisions I made and putting every future “dream” I planned to make under a microscope instead of just moving forward. It took me years to start a blog and now I did it despite all the crippling thoughts I had telling me not to. So, yes, you are correct Andrea to plan but live at the same time.


  5. Beth


    I love this and especially love the Anonymous quote you chose. So many times over the years, I have longed for the ‘next’ stage. With this post, I am reminded to enjoy my last few years of work without focusing too much on how much ‘better’ life will be when we retire in a few years.


    Andrea Reply:

    Well, if it makes you feel any better, I’m POSITIVE you are not alone in your anxiousness for retirement 🙂


  6. Luba @ Healthy with Luba



    This is something I had to learn as well. The thing is, time moves on. However, if we don’t change ourselves or allow God to change us, we’ll be the exact same person in a different situation.

    I’ve started a gratitude journal so that I can focus on the blessings of today. At first I wrote three blessings every day. Now I write at least five, and sometimes go to seven. Really, if I wanted to, I could list twenty-five daily.

    Thank you for your thought-provoking posts!


  7. Rhonda


    I have a Gretchen Rubin daily desk calendar, and some of the quotes fit well with this topic.

    Gretchen says: The “arrival fallacy” is the belief that once you arrive at a certain destination or achieve an objective, you’ll be happy. But arrival rarely makes you as happy as you’ve anticipated. Try instead to take pleasure in the gradual progress you make toward a goal, a source of happiness that is known, unpoetic though it may sound, as “pre-goal attainment positive affect”.

    And another good one:
    “The serious problems in life, however, are never fully solved. If ever they should appear to be so it is a sure sign that something has been lost. The meaning and purpose of a problem seem to lie not in its solution but in our working at it incessantly. This alone preserves us from stultification and petrification.” – Carl Jung


    Luba @ Healthy with Luba Reply:

    Rhonda, thank you for sharing those quotes. There is so much beauty in today if we just stop to think about it. 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for sharing these quotes Rhonda!