“Remember the past, plan for the future, but live for today, because yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come.”
The best time to live is in the present. It’s easy to get lost in a daydream of how life could have been different or how good life used to be. It’s equally easy to succumb to the speculative dreaming of what might happen in the future.
Believing in a better future is hope, and being confident of what we hope for; that is faith. Faith is grounded in the reality of the past; hope is looking to the anticipated reality of the future. In this way, to truly live with purpose today, we need to remember our past and plan for our future.
But there is a difference between thinking about the past or future and living in it. Sometimes we live in the past because it’s familiar; we know what happened; there are no surprises. So too we might live in the future because we are deeply dissatisfied with where we are.
When we dwell on thoughts to the point that they consume most of our energy and attention, this is when we move from thinking to dwelling. As the old proverb goes, “home is where the heart dwells”.
When the past was really good, we can be tempted to live in our memories because just thinking back on it gives you a feeling of comfort and happiness. And, if the past was really bad, we can live in the future seeking the same comfort and happiness.
We need to identify this in our lives because we can’t change the past and we cannot predict the future. The only place we can make changes is in the present moment. No matter how certain our plans might be, if some major event happens, that can all dissipate into the ether with the snap of a finger.
Being present to our present is where we regain and maintain control of our power to choose. When you speak to people with children or people on their deathbed, a common regret is missing their kids growing up or wishing they’d spent more time with their loved ones.
If you feel like you’re not quite focussed enough on the present, grab a journal and a pen and jot down one of these questions on each page. When your mind wanders and you find yourself dwelling on something that is taking you away from the present moment, jot it down on that page. This will help you release it from your focus, but still, be able to recall it to help you in your planning.
Is there one particular period from the past that you find yourself clinging to?
Are you frustrated with where you currently are in life?
What causes you to be anxious for the future?
What are you most grateful for in life?
Whilst these are helpful life questions, they’re also rooted in the core motivations for how we work with our money. When we can slowly break these questions apart and work through them, we can start to understand our money better and embrace what it means to remember the past, plan for the future and live for today.