High performers, of every form, live in the present. They live in the present, not in an oblivious or ignorant way, but with a focus on task and process. Productively living in the present requires us to look to our future for direction.
To improve on the present, and thus improve upon the future we need to know where we want to go. Placing too much attention on the future is not healthy, that is why we focus on the future only to set objectives or visions.
A good objective or vision is dependent on how well it is related to our present. The vision of a lean healthy body is only good if it motivates us to eat healthy and be active today. A vision of a multi-million dollar business venture is only healthy if it directs our focus to the tasks we need to complete today to move toward that vision. Looking to the future in the right way can (paradoxically) help us live in the present. But what about the past?
Guilt and nostalgia live in the past. Both can be extremely toxic to our performance if we attend to them. That being said, living in the present is performing and performing at a high level is influenced by our confidence. There are several ways to build confidence, but one of the strongest is through previous accomplishments. To live in the present we need to perform well—and if we performed well in the past—by remembering our previous accomplishment will help us to know what we need to do in the now. Ernest Hemingway would often remind himself of his past success writing whenever he felt stuck. He would say to himself:
“Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.”
Evaluating the past, especially by looking at our strengths, will help propel us forward by helping us be strong in the present.
The present moment is fluid. Every second it becomes the past and the future comes into our existence as the present. To live fully, we must live in the present. To live healthily, we must live in the present. To live happily, we must live in the present. To live a high performing life we must live in the present. But to best live in the present we must use aspects of the future and past to aid us. Balance is needed. We can’t forget that the past is the home of guilt and the future is the home of fear, and we can’t forget that neither is real. The only truly real thing in the world is the moment we are living in. That is why to live fearlessly we must live now.
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