Someone once asked me which of the two were more important — living for the moment or striving for goals. The argument that she gave me was that it was a desire for a carefree existence, not concerning oneself with the lessons that may have been learned from the past nor planning for what may become of the future, versus the passion to achieve a goal and all the planning and actions that are needed to make it happen.But I don’t think it’s nearly that simple.
LIVING IN THE MOMENT
We are never promised that there could be a tomorrow. The world is full of ordered randomness that could strike at any time. You can live the most pious life that you could ever imagine and be as kind as possible to everyone you come across and still be in the wrong place at the wrong time, falling victim to what fate has in store for you.
Ultimately, now is what matters most. Regardless of what may have happened to you in the past or what you might be hoping to do in the future, it’s all about what’s right here, right now. You can see right now. You can touch now. All of your senses react to now, while last week and next year are vaguer and slightly more abstract concepts to us.
So why not live life as if we expect nothing from it? Live with passion. Carpe diem. Act without abandon, for tomorrow is never promised! When you live in the moment, you don’t do something for someone because you believe that they’ll return the favour sometime in the future — you do it because you want to. When you live in the moment, you don’t overthink your choices and the long-term effects that they could have on your life — you rely on your past experiences, your wisdom and your instinct to guide you to the best option possible. Those who choose to live in the moment do so often believing that everything in their lives will work out however they need to.
They might have eventual life goals, but aren’t too fussed about however they manage to get there — life is more about the journey than the destination, and they’re out to make every pit stop as exciting as possible!
LIVING A GOAL-FOCUSED LIFE
On the other hand, working with a game plan isn’t so bad — without good planners, many of the major achievements of our civilization wouldn’t have happened. On a more individual level, I know that many of my trips wouldn’t have happened without someone there to make sure that things were on track. It’s the same reason why our wedding went so well, or why so many projects or parties that I’ve been interested in simply haven’t happened.
Where living in the moment requires constantly looking at the world from an aerial view and taking opportunities as they come, the goal-focused are far more intentional and skilled at working through the details, being prepared for whatever difficulties may come!
Two completely different ways of living life, but which is better?
From having gotten to know so many different kinds of people over the years, there’s two things I can tell you:
- It’s impossible to say that one’s better than the other
- We all have a mix of both within us
Some would argue that those living in the moment simply live carefree and don’t put any concern whatsoever into consequences or responsibility — they simply don’t have the capacity to think forward much to the chagrin of their goal-focused planner counterparts.
But I think that it simply isn’t so!
What sets those who live in the moment apart from others is that they don’t worry as much about the future as others do. Things may happen, they may not — ultimately it isn’t for us to decide. So trying to plan every last detail (or “overplanning” as some would call it) seems like a waste of time and energy when one simply can’t control the world and everything in it.
The goal-focused also often get a bad rep of being too rigid and inflexible. They react poorly to sudden changes and scramble to get back on schedule, lest they miss out on doing things they really want to do or lose the chance to accomplish their goals.
Here, too, there is another side to the coin.
Oftentimes, the planning types put things down beforehand so that they’ve considered all the possibilities before going ahead with something. That way, if something goes amiss, they already know what other options are available to them so they can bounce back quicker than others who may need to frantically seek for a new solution.
We all have some of each type in us — one side usually being stronger than the other — so casting a negative light on either is simply doing yourself a disservice.
One of the Bible’s Ten Commandments reads: “Love thy neighbour”. What it means is that you’re expected to show caring and compassion for the people around you regardless of how they might act. It takes all types of people to keep this world spinning, so let’s work harder at appreciating each and every one of them!
–Casey E. Palmer