Past, Present & Future – How to Make Time for All Three

Goal-setting is exciting business to me. So is looking back and reflecting on my actions and behaviors. Both of these involve focusing on either my future, or my past, neither of which is bad, but if I’m not careful, I may forget to give my now, appropriate attention. All three of these work together, and spending too much time outside our Present can get us into trouble.

The Past – Each bit of time we spend reliving or replaying something from our past is Present time we’ve lost. Some past puzzles will never be figured out, and only you can determine when it’s time to put a puzzle away. Ask yourself if your reflection on the past is bringing you joy or helping you to understand a situation better. If it isn’t doing either of these, you should probably consider letting it go. Often, reflections on the past help us to keep a memory alive. This is great if it’s a positive memory, but less so if it’s a negative one, like when someone did us wrong, or we screwed up or missed an opportunity. Replaying these do little to nothing to improve our Present or our Future, so consider moving on. Time in our Past is best spent on things that bring us joy, or situations we can learn from to improve our Present or Future.

The Present – This period of time is so often taken for granted until it’s gone. There is so much goodness to be found in the Present. It can also be very peaceful when we force ourselves to focus on it. This is often precisely what I have to do when I’m walking. When I’m on a walk, I often replay things from the past, or envision my future. However, then I’m missing my beautiful surroundings. Recently, while walking, I was thinking of a situation that really irked me. As I was walking, I was both replaying this situation (Past) and imagining the different ways it could turn out (Future). When I pulled my attention back to the present, I realized I had walked by beautiful flowers and trees without even noticing them. I tuned out the sound of the birds chirping and the light wind on my face – I was completely ignoring all of these gifts from Mother Nature while playing in my Past and Future. Moments, I’ll never get back. Focus on finding the good in your Present. It’s there – just look. Being grateful for what is in your Present life is a great way to prepare yourself for good things in your Future life.

The Future – I geek out over goal-setting! That feeling of progress and accomplishment provides its own high. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small or large goal – it’s fun to be reaching for something. The Future is important because it gives us something to work towards and strive for. Life may throw curve balls our way, but we can deal with those in our Present. The future is all about what we desire and making every effort to make it happen. This, too, requires reflecting on both our Past, and taking action in our Present.

Making time for reflection on our Past, appreciation for our Present, and goals for our Future is important. Check-in with yourself each day to ensure you are spending quality time in each area, while striving to spend the majority of your time in the Present.

Share in the comments how you make time for each of the three – Past, Present & Future.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the tips on balancing the past, present and the future. It is difficult to let the past pass, but we can reflect on the past in a positive way. When I think about the goals I have and what I need to achieve, it helps me to focus on the present and reflect what I did in the past to make it better

  2. Too often I panic when I see I’m off course on a goal and just write it off. I hear you about getting distracted with thoughts and ignoring my surroundings on walks. The other day I caught myself and picked up my head to realign on the present and there was a chicken in the road walking towards me. It cracked me up and made me laugh. Just what the doctor ordered!

  3. I really like this message.. and the one about past in particular right now. I am doing a kind of declutter program and it is discussing things about shifting your relationship with money.. many of those exercises are taking people back to the past.. Not that I do not want to, or haven’t dealt with it, but I also do not want to loose time in going back there “again”… Life is short.. so nothing like enjoying the present and planning for the future.

    • What a great example of how even a positive exercise, like decluttering, can get us stuck for too long in the past. Thanks for sharing, Pam!

  4. This is so very important. So often we are so busy that we forget that change starts really small.. and with us. Thank you for the beautiful reminder!

  5. You are spot on Lady! “Each bit of time we spend reliving or replaying something from our past is Present time we’ve lost.” I had to pause at your first sentence for “The Past”—goodness just the other day I was finding myself getting cellular memory stuck at something a family member said that hurt to the core, a straight on comment with jugular-like precision meant to attack. But as I was retelling my shock, hurt and now distrust of said family member, to a friend…I found the anger and hurt renewing…so important to have reminders that the past is the past, the future can inspire, but we truly only have the present. I do enjoy imagining the future with positive outcomes of what I want in my life…and anticipating my boys back home form uni, etc. My best present work is really simple—I set my timer for 10 minutes and do basic meditation of just paying attention to my breath and gently rounding my busy mind back to that. April, I think the world of you, your caring knowledge and your offers….I see a book in your future. Thanks for always writing such thought provoking, practical and healing truths.

    • Jul’s, your lesson about reliving a past hurt is one we all could learn from. We have all done it, however, not everyone (myself included) is quick to turn it around like you did. Good on you, Sister! Thanks for the kind words…a book may just be somewhere in my future…guess we’ll have to wait and see! 😉

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