How to live in the present

I remember dreaming of the day I would quit my job. We all anticipate that a euphoric rush will follow the words “I quit”, but instead we are left confused and overwhelmed as we leave part of our identity behind and look towards the unknown. The whole event ends up being anti-climatic and bittersweet as you realize a chapter of your life has come to a close. I thought I would feel equally as excited when I got my new job, graduated university or when I bought my condo, and then my cottage. And though I value each of those things, and recognize them as significant accomplishments and milestones in my life, I’ve learned that if you measure your day, year, and life in the outcome, you are sure to be disappointed.

On my road to self discovery, I am constantly setting myself goals and deadlines that result in a never ending list of to-dos. In my quest to find balance in my life this year, I have worked hard to take a step back from focusing on the end result and instead finding contentment, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment in the process of getting there. Have you ever felt that if you got the promotion you’ve been waiting for, that you’ll have it made? Or if you could buy your dream house your life would be perfect? Or maybe if you lost those last few pounds and were in the best shape of your life you wouldn’t have to worry about anything else? The truth is, life is a process. A series of steps that take us on an unbelievable adventure with a promise of the unexpected. By focusing our energy on the next big thing, believing it will be the moment where our life has found its purpose, we are ignoring the opportunity to explore and experiment. When the time comes and we do accomplish that goal or buy that thing, where does it leave us? It’s often unfulfilling as we begin a hollow path to the next accomplishment.

Though promotions, awards, and acknowledgements aren’t without merit, they are often out of our control. We tend to associate happiness, pleasure, and satisfaction on the next meal, the next handbag, the next job when there needs to be something more that motivates and inspires you. We have to find a way to separate ourselves from these ‘things’ that will not fulfill a promise of an easier, better, and calmer life. For some it may mean embracing spirituality and seeking enlightenment. For others, it could be finding your creative calling to find peace and meaning in your day to day.

Perhaps this is where the secret to creativity lies? In letting go of the end result we can allow ourselves to be ever evolving and always changing - we would be unlimited in what we could create. Instead of focusing on a beginning and end with our to-do list haunting us, we can instead be open to inspiration leading us to come to the table again and again to share a bit of ourselves with the world. While writing this I acknowledge that these ideas deeply contradict my personality. I was always the kid who would do anything for a sticker or a star. But as I get older, and hopefully wiser, I’ve learned that goal setting is only rewarding while taking in all the parts that got you there. So, instead of worrying about and waiting for the next big thing in life, I would rather enjoy the moment of having an open mind of what’s to come while focusing my energy on nurturing my soul to get me there.