I recently took a gimmicky Facebook quiz from Bitecharge (come on, we all do it) about the right career for me. While I’m not questioning my career, I don’t spend my afternoons taking quizzes, and I wasn’t about to let a tacky quiz confirm my life choices, I was intrigued. I also wanted to indulge in some mindless activity for the heck of it.
During the senseless, ridiculous clicking, one quiz question stood out:
Do you tend to live in the past, in the future, in the present?
Believe it or not, that lame Facebook quiz made me think.
You can learn a lot from the past. Reflecting on it can reveal patterns and lessons. It can help you learn from mistakes. It’s where memories are held and where friendships start. The past can make you smile, or it can make you cry.
The past, to me, is the easiest place to go. It’s a default. It’s where my mind goes when I daydream and when I dream I night. I remember those I’ve lost and those I miss. I relive both positive and negative memories in my dreams.
However, the past doesn’t help you focus on what’s to come. It’s not looking forward. It’s not a place to be when you’re goal-oriented or driven by something untouchable at the moment.
The present is about enjoying the moment you’re in right now. As you read this post, you’re focusing on the present. You’re not looking back, and you’re not looking forward. Focusing on the present is important.
As a mother, I work hard to focus on the current moments. I want to enjoy and cherish my son wearing his first pair of roller skates or eating apples off my apple tree. I never want to wish this time away, and if I focus somewhere else, I’ll miss what’s right in front of me.
The Internet focuses on the present. If the Internet could talk, it would ask, “What have you done for me today?” No matter how hard you work to build up a social media presence or to create great content, it’s truly what you launch today that makes the most impact.
I find this place the hardest one to focus, but it’s important personally and professionally. If you constantly look back, you’ll never move ahead. If you’re only looking forward, then you miss this moment.
Looking toward the future is about constantly keeping your eye on the prize. Whether it’s a promotion, your kid’s next birthday or even considering which post you’ll read next, it’s always about looking forward.
I am an optimist. While I reflect on the past, I’m more likely to be positive and open about what’s ahead. I don’t see doom and gloom in my future; I see a place that holds my achievements. It’s a dangling carrot; and I’m hungry.
Perhaps more than the past or present, the future is where I want to be. I am excited about what the future holds both personally and professionally. I don’t want to wish my life away, but I do want to think about the road ahead and how I can prepare for it now.
Thinking about the future helps me overcome any current challenges. It reminds me that my concerns are small in the scheme of life. It keeps me grounded and thinking about the big picture. Whatever you struggle with today, ask yourself if it will be an issue tomorrow, a month from now, or even a year from now. If it won’t be a problem at that point, it’s probably something that you can overcome. Thinking about the future can get you through the complicated, challenging and sometimes painful things that life throws at you.
And so, I clicked Future.
Perhaps like life, I was looking ahead and hoping for the best. But when that quiz revealed that my career is a Writer, I realized that maybe the answer I chose wasn’t just the correct click for the quiz (which you can take here). It was perfect for me, too.