Not too long ago, it was January 1, 2019. The first day of a new year is often buzzing with new hope, expectations, and ambitious goals under the umbrella of “resolutions” that are meant to set us up for a better year than the last. Though there are so many discussions that we could extract from that one sentence, I want to focus very briefly on this idea of living for our future. While I recognize that setting specific, realistic goals for ourselves can be an extremely valuable endeavor, I think that (if you’re anything like me) we can sometimes take this too far. Whether it comes in the form of eager excitement, crippling anxiety, or somewhere in between, we often become so focused on what may lay ahead of us that we forget how to appreciate our current reality. I like to call this phenomena of mentally skipping ahead to our expectations of the future “speeding through life”. In this post, I will identify 6 indicators that you may be falling mentally out-of-touch with the present as well.
1. Every day feels mundane// When we’re so caught up in getting to our next destination that we rush through the travel phase, we end up missing out on a lot of the little things that make each day it’s own. If you’re feeling like life is just a series of the same events on repeat, it may be a sign that you’re not slowing down enough to enjoy the intricacies of daily life.
2. You feel stressed or anxious most of the time// Let’s just take a moment to acknowledge and accept the fact that not only does our future not yet exist, but also that we do not have the power to control what it brings when it arrives. We can try to gain control of life as much as we want. We can read motivational quotes, set new goals, and strategize our decisions as much as we want. But among all of our efforts, we have to come to the realization that there will be things that enter our lives that are unexpected and sometimes unwanted. This reality check is not meant to be a discouragement, but rather a release. Anxiety or worry about the future can be an indicator that we are letting our minds live in the “what if’s” instead of appreciating the moment we are actually in. If this sounds like you, you may want to try living more fully in your current reality, by turning those “what if’s” into “what now’s”.
3. You can’t wait to “skip” this week, this year, this stage of life, [fill in the blank] // This could be a maladaptive way that you’re processing one of two realities: 1. You’re in a season of waiting or stagnation; or 2. You’re in a season that feels difficult. Either way, if you find that you’re constantly trying to “fast-forward” through whatever stage of life you’re in, you might find that it serves you better to learn to experience that stage to the fullest. “Waiting” teaches patience and creates a unique space for intimacy with God, personal development, etc., while hardships often foster growth, humility, and endurance.
4. You lose sleep because you often feel “keyed up” or your mind is racing through the millions of things on your to-do list// You’re only job when trying to fall asleep should be pretty simple: relax your mind and body enough to drift off out of consciousness for (hopefully) 7-8 hours. However, like my fellow insomniacs, I’ll admit that this isn’t always what happens when my head hits the pillow. If you find yourself lying awake for hours, repeatedly running through tomorrow’s to-do list like a madman (or this week’s, or this year’s), this is an indicator that you’re having trouble staying in the moment. Because in that moment, as long as all external distractions are eliminated, it’s just you and the goal of drifting off to sleep. Thinking about future deadlines won’t hasten their completion.
5. You keep yourself so busy that time often feels “lost”// If you regularly find that completing your daily tasks leaves you at the end of the day questioning where the day, or week, or month went, you may be keeping yourself too busy. This rushing around mentality can thrust you into a restrictive mechanical state (get up, attend meetings, get things done, didn’t get enough done, think about all of the things you didn’t get done, go to bed, repeat) that prevents you from embracing the present moment. Most of the time, we have at least some level of control over how we manage our time. In some areas of life, this kind of control isn’t extensive (e.g. work responsibilities, academic deadlines, caring for your family, etc.). However, we do have a choice in the things or areas of life that we prioritize. Extra things that don’t add to the maintenance of these ‘priority zones’ can add up, spreading us thin.
6. You’re just not enjoying life// This one’s pretty self-explanatory and it could derive from a variety of issues; however, if you find that you’re regularly feeling bored, anxious, or even mildly depressed, you may want to start by taking a good, honest look at how you’re approaching daily life altogether and by seeking wise counsel.
What are your thoughts on the concept of “speeding through life”? Are there other major indicators that I missed? Feel free to share in the comment section!
Some verses for your day:
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.” Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! // Isaiah 30: 15-18 NIV