There are two schools of thought on how to manage your life – the “live in the moment” crowd (Oprah and her ilk) and the “if you’re not going somewhere you’ll never get anywhere” crowd (Stephen Covey, David Allen, and all of the time management gurus). If it seems like conflicting advice, it is. Can you focus on enjoying the now and not worry about the future while simultaneously planning ahead? Is it possible to plan for the future without looking at it?
If you have ever done any swimming outside of a pool – a triathlon or some other event – you know that you have to put your head down and swim for a bit, and then you have to look up and make sure you’re still tracking for the finish line. To do that you need to have a finish line in the first place. You also need to have a bathing suit and goggles in order to enjoy the swimming. That means that in order to enjoy the moment, you have to have already done the prep work and have the tools and the strategy in place. Otherwise you can’t focus on the work.
Enjoying the moment is about preparing properly, working hard, and recognizing success when it comes. You will have many fewer spontaneous moments to appreciate if you wander through life with no plan and no insight into what makes you happy. With that said you also need to avoid being so focused on the end goal that you miss out on celebrating the small successes and joys of the journey.