Is It Better to Live in the Moment or Achieve Your Goals?

Living in the moment, taking time to smell the flowers, enjoying the simple things, not having any regrets when we breathe our last… these are all highly esteemed ideals in our society.

They are portrayed in a significant number of mainstream movies as “the way life should be”, and if people express regrets at the end of their life, it’s usually around these things.

Yet in spite of the lip service we often give to these values, too few of us seem to truly live them. Instead we chase after one goal after another in pursuit of our own version of the American dream. This seems especially true of people with career goals.

If you don’t feel the pressure yourself, just pause for a moment at a street corner and watch all the harried, stressed out people rush past you.

One question I’ve been wrestling with in my own life lately is where the balance is between living in the moment and pursuing/achieving your goals. Must you give up one to gain the other? Is it truly possible to do both?

While I can’t say I have a definitive answer (not even close, in fact!), I have observed a few things I believe are crucial to striking a balance between these seemingly disparate ideals.

– Be clear on your most important values. What really matters to you? This will be unique to you and not shared by anyone else in exactly the same way.

– Make sure the goals you pursue are truly in service to your values. I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect every single activity associated with your goal to be a fit with your core values, but I guarantee you’re going to have regrets if at least the bulk of each goal doesn’t align.

– Check that your goals are your own. Just as your values are unique to you, only you can decide if the goals you pursue are in your best interest. While it may be worth putting “living in the moment” on hold for a season in order to fulfill a longer-term dream, life is definitely too short to stifle our own dreams just to live out someone else’s for them.

– Don’t become so focused on the goals (even the most worthwhile ones!) that you miss the little things along the way… the moments of opportunity… the things that are truly important. It’s no fun to wake up one day and realize the good stuff is gone forever!

About Laura Ege

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