Living for the present v living for the future

Traintrack

I have always been someone who looks towards the future. Someone who thinks that what I’m doing at a certain point in time isn’t good enough and I want to move onto the next thing. Because then, life will be better. My mother would corroborate this. When I was in primary school, I wanted to go to ‘big’ school. When in secondary school, I wanted to go to university. When at university, I wanted to start my career. And so on. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the times I spent doing any of those things, but it meant that I wasn’t always living in the present. I was always looking towards the next step. This isn’t always helped by circumstances. For example, I studied Law at university and you have to start applying for training contracts at the end of the first year, because so many firms recruit two years in advance. This forces you to think about your future. Where you want to be, what you want to be doing.

I do still do this now, to an extent. One of the reasons I left my job as a lawyer was because I simply couldn’t see myself doing it in five years’ time. In this respect, evaluating how I wanted my future to look was a good thing, because it meant I changed path sooner rather than later. Luckily, making that change was the right thing to do. But although I’ve found a job I’m really happy doing and feel settled within it, I still can’t help thinking ‘what’s next?’ Not in terms of job – I hope to stay where I am for a long time and grow organically with the business – but in terms of life. I’ve been living in my one-bed flat for just over four years now, and it’s great. Ideal location, generous size, lovely inside. It’s served me exceptionally well. When Olly moved in a couple of years ago, it was a squeeze. But we have worked around the space issue and, generally, it’s just fine. But sometimes, I do want more indoor space. And almost all of the time, I want outdoor space. The answer? I want to move to a bigger house with a garden. The flat just doesn’t cut the mustard any more. Cue becoming obsessed with Rightmove and becoming ridiculously excited by the idea of having a shiny new home.

Olly isn’t quite on the same page. Why do we need to move now? We are happy where we are. And it’s true, we are happy where we are. But I had started to see all the flaws in where we lived and was focused only on how our life could be improved by living elsewhere, instead of thinking about all the positive things which our current circumstances offer and how good we already have it.

What I’m learning is that it’s fine to look towards your future. In fact, it’s important to do so. People should always have dreams and ambitions. But equally, it’s important not to become so immersed in how you want your future to be that you don’t appreciate what you already have today. So I’ve taken my foot off the moving house pedal. Our flat is warm and cosy in the winter, I no longer have to wear corporate clothing for my job so I can clear some more space in the wardrobe, and the lack of garden can force us to get out the house even more in the summer. I actually have it really good, and I’m lucky. So I need to spend more time appreciating the present and less time mapping out the future. I’m a complete believer in fate, and as much as we can try and master our own destinies, what will be will be.

So be an optimist, or at least a realist. Even if you think your life or the things in it are not the way you want them, turn your thinking around. There are always silver linings floating around, you just need to find them and change your attitude. If you live too much for the future, your present will pass you by. And there could be a whole lot of happy that you miss out on.

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The Clock of Life

Large clock

Last week I attended the remembrance service of my Uncle Andrew, Aunt Estella, and two cousins Jasper (14) and Friso (12), who lost their lives together on flight MH17.  To say that a tragedy like this puts life into perspective would be an understatement.  In the first page of the Order of Service, we used the following extract from the poem ‘The Clock of Life’ by Robert H Smith:

The clock of life is wound but once.
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.

Today only is our own.
So live, love, and toil with a will.
Place no faith in tomorrow,
For the clock may then be still.

Let these words resonate.  If I have learned anything from this awful situation, it is that life can be taken at any time, even from the most wonderful people, and it is so important to live for today and not tomorrow.  Do what makes you happy.  Make the most of every day you have.  Celebrate being alive.  Because you only get to do it once.