I have heard, and read some discussions recently on a negative aspect of goals setting, or having a vision of the future.  Their argument rests mainly on the idea that living with a focus solely, or too much, on the future can cause us to miss the present; that living only so as to reach some future destination can cause us to pass by that which is so preciously present and often fleeting. Their reasoning rings of SOME truth and reminds me of an oft-quoted phrase “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift––that is why it is called the present.” There is a great deal of truth in the idea that looking only forward or even backward can have an impeding effect on our ability to appreciate the present. There are a few tools and skills that I believe counteract any issues of getting stuck in the future when it comes to our goals and our vision.

The first skill or tool has to do with how we write our vision.  Those who attend our conferences and coaching have heard this before- we should write our vision, which is the best version of ourselves in a role that matters most, in the present tense. For example- “I will be a loving father”, or “ I will be financially independent”, but instead writing them as “I am a loving father”, or “I am financially independent”.  Some have asked us “why write them this way if it isn’t true?”. There a many reasons for doing so but in the context of our current discussion it helps us to live our vision of a future, better self in the present. If part of my vision as a father is “I am a loving father” and I am striving every day to be that then I am filling my days with actions that make that statement true thereby not only allowing me to live in the present, but making that present much richer and more meaningful due to the daily actions of a loving father. As I think about my own children and when evening comes and my kids are trying to find a way out of going to bed or asking for a bedtime snack for the 47 thousandth time, I don’t look forward and think “I will be a loving father”, but I think “I am a loving father” and as a loving father I should take the time to read a few books to them.  There is no future in this, I am taking the actions now, in the present tense.

Another item and a serious game changer for thousands is the skill or tool of Pre-week Planning.  For those who are unfamiliar with this practice, I will explain. For those of you do this on a weekly basis you can attest to its power. Sometime between Friday and Sunday, you would take about 20-40 minutes to review your vision and yearly goals.  Then you would write down in your BYB planner, which is built to facilitate this very activity, the roles in your life which are most important. Once you have your roles written you would consider and write down under each role those action items which would be most important to accomplish in the coming week in order to achieve your vision and goals.  The last step is taking those action items and dropping them into your weekly schedule at a specific time. What you would have just done was take all of the future, all of the mystery and brought it into your present. Your coming week is now filled with items from a desired future focused into moments of present achievement. No longer are you carried downstream by the day to day with wishes of some future self in some future place.  You are leading a life by design, and not by someone else’s design, but by your own design and what could be more present than that.

When that future someday arrives, due to your vision, goals and pre-week planning you will be able to reflect on the past and know that you have lived as presently as anyone could have.