The greatest sign of a successful life is not your bank balance or any of your material possessions. It is not your reputation or standing in your profession or community either. The greatest sign of a successful life is your ability to live in the moment, and be happy there. Goals are important in life but setting and pursuing goals is not all about the destination. If you cannot enjoy the journey to achieving your goal, why spend all of that time pursuing it? Too many people devote themselves entirely to the pursuit of their goals. They do not enjoy the journey and then when they achieve the goal, they don’t take the time to experience their success. They simply set a new goal and move on. This madness will never lead to true happiness but it will lead to stress, misery and bad health. If you want to experience true happiness, you must be able to live in the moment and enjoy being there.
You should definitely set goals for yourself. You should definitely set a plan for achieving those goals and regularly review your progress against that plan. Once you have your plan, it is simply a matter of taking each action as and when necessary. Rather than get obsessed about the big picture, you can just focus entirely on that action. Live in the moment, experience the moment, and when the action is completed, move your focus and attention to the next item.
How to live in the moment
The following tips will help you to live in the moment and enjoy your life.
1. Wherever you are, be there
Just like everybody else, you will have multiple areas to your life e.g. work, family, friends, hobbies etc. If you want to live a happy life, you have to make the most of each of these areas of your life. Logic dictates that it is highly unlikely that you will be able to give each area of your life the same quantity of time. However, quantity is not so important. What really matters is the quality of time that you give. When you live in the moment, you give your undivided attention to the tasks you are working on, or the people you are with, in that moment.
For example, if you are spending time with your children; give them your full attention. Forget about work. If something important, and work related, pops into your mind, by all means make a note of it but then return your attention to your children. Whatever the work related task is, you must understand that any task is only as important as the importance you assign to it. There are very few tasks that cannot wait a few hours.
2. Forget multitasking
Modern productivity has become obsessed with the concept of multi-tasking. This is the idea that you can perform more than one task at once and thus get more done. The problem with that thinking is that nobody can multi-task. It is impossible to give 2 different tasks your full attention at the same time. Even when people appear to be multi-taking effectively; what they are actually doing is rapidly refocusing between tasks. Very few people are really good at this. For most people, every time that they switch between tasks, it takes them a couple of minutes to get properly refocused on the new task.
When you focus on one task at a time, you do a better job in less time and you irritate less people because they get your full attention. Forget multi-tasking, live in the moment, perform one task at a time and do a great job. You will be a lot happier for it.
If you need to improve your productivity, you will find great strategies in Quick Fixes for Your Productivity.
3. Focus on the smaller actions
When you have goals that you want to achieve, it is easy to become obsessed with the big picture. This is a pointless waste of time and energy. Every goal is achieved in the same manner – one small action at a time. When you focus on the big picture, it can be daunting and overwhelming. Your goal can seem so far away causing you to believe that you will never get there but with each small action that you complete, you take a step closer.
There are 2 questions which I use together to help me keep moving towards the goal without the overwhelm. It is important to remind yourself of the goal but you then need to rapidly refocus on the task at hand. To do that, these are the questions that I use:
- What is the goal that I am trying to achieve?
- What is the next action that I can take to move me closer to that goal?
4. Banish the useless emotions
In one of my favourite books, ‘Your Erroneous Zones: Step-by-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life’, Dr Wayne W. Dyer tells us some of the most important truths in life. One that really should be emphasised is the uselessness of guilt and worry. These 2 emotions have absolutely no value to us. Guilt is useless because you are obsessing about an event which has already taken place and cannot be changed. Worry is useless because you are obsessing about something which might never happen. When you look at them bluntly, you realise that when you are experiencing either of these emotions, you are inflicting unnecessary pain upon yourself. Just as important; when you are experiencing these emotions, it is impossible to live in the moment as you are obsessed about the past, or the potential future.
Rather than feel guilty; if you believe that you have done something wrong, resolve to learn from your mistake so that you don’t repeat it. Then, move on. Rather than feel worried; if you believe that there is the potential for something to go wrong, you can take one of a couple of different actions:
- Take corrective action to prevent the problem from occurring
- Devise a plan for how you can deal with the problem, should it arise
5. Understand that vision trumps knowledge
The happiest and most successful people in life tend to be visionary people. They know that if they can visualise what they want, they will find a way to achieve it. There is great value in the old saying ‘where there is a will, there is a way’, and the happiest, most successful people know this.
Think of any great invention, the inventor had a vision for what they wanted; they then focused on finding a way to make it happen. If they had valued knowledge above vision, their achievements would have been limited to the knowledge that they already possessed, thus making their advancements impossible.
When you develop a clear vision of what you want from life, and you take a few minutes each day to visualise that life, you embed it in your subconscious mind. You are then better able to live in the moment as your subconscious mind reminds you of your objective when you need to make important decisions. Also, you will be better able to recognise potential opportunities to progress towards your goals.
The greates form of vision you can have is to have a clear purpose for your life. You can discover your purpose with the Living Purposefully Workbook.
6. Trust yourself
When you have a clear vision of the life you want, you will receive guidance from within every time that you are required to make a big decision. When you learn to trust this guidance, you learn to trust yourself. As you trust yourself more, you are able to seize each moment and each opportunity that presents itself.
7. Let it flow
People either believe that there is an abundance of opportunities in life for them to be happy and achieve their goals or; they believe that there is a scarcity of opportunities. People who believe that there is a scarcity tend to cling onto happy moments in a desperate bid to extract every last ounce of happiness from them. Those who believe in abundance realise that life is meant to flow so; they enjoy the experience and let it go. The problem with clinging on is that you are trying to hold on to a moment which has already passed and in doing so; you are missing out on opportunities that exist in the present. You are failing to live in the moment.
One of the best examples is in the area of relationships. You may have had a lovely relationship but it is now beginning to fall apart. Rather than accept that the relationship has run its course, you desperately cling on in the hope that you can rediscover the joy that you once shared. By clinging on to a moment which has passed, you are missing the opportunity to meet a more suitable partner or, you may be missing out on the opportunities that a period of single life can bring.
Happiness and success are not really measured in material possession, status or achievements. The ultimate success is the ability to live in the moment, and be happy there. When you live in the moment, you experience all the joy that life has to offer. You remove guilt and worry from your life. Of course, it is essential to have goals and objectives for life but too many people get lost in the pursuit of their goals. They fail to live in the moment and they get no joy or happiness either from the achievement of the goal, or from the journey. When you choose to live in moment, you know where you are trying to get to but you focus on each small act which is required to get your there. You give each task and each person your undivided attention. When you live in the moment, you are more productive, healthier and happier. Now that’s real success.