9 Signs You Aren’t Existing in the Present Moment

“So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of
its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.”

Matthew 6:34, Good News Translation

Be present. Live in the moment. What does that mean to you?

It may mean not dwelling on the past, or
not wasting time and energy on what doesn’t matter.

 Both are valid answers.

In today’s world, many distractions, such as technology, entertainment, and long working hours, keep us from living our best life in the present moment.

One major distraction is spending too much time in the future – endless planning and working toward the next goal – a new home, relationship, family, career – things that hopefully bring happiness and contentment.

After college graduation, Claire was ecstatic when she was hired at her preferred company, even if it was only an entry-level position. After a few short months, she began to admire her department manager, Suzanne. In her managerial position, Suzanne had respect and influence; she made things happen. Not only that, but Claire learned that Suzanne lived in a nice neighborhood and drove a high-end, sports car to work. Claire soon envisioned herself as the department manager one day and set her sights on getting there.

With her career plan set, Claire became determined and ambitious, grabbing every opportunity to move her up the corporate ladder. She networked, met only the right people that could help her career, and did what she could to impress the bosses. And it worked – she was promoted up the ranks more quickly than some of her other co-workers, and her pay increase allowed her to move from living with parents to an apartment and purchase a nicer car. But a position as a manager was still her goal. 

Claire continued working hard; once she met one goal, she pushed through the next. But at one point, her career stalled, and Claire became frustrated. Every day became stressful, and she worried she wasn’t doing enough. Even while sticking to the career plan she created, work was no longer fulfilling. Even her boss Suzanne seemed more aloof with her. She began to realize that her few friends didn’t have much in common with her anymore.

Because she was focused only on a future life, Claire didn’t enjoy living in the present. This was evident in her continuous drive to power through her goals instead of 
slowing down to participate in other fulfilling experiences happening around her. She was always working for the next promotion, so she never took time to cultivate relationships with her co-workers. It was true that she no longer had much in common with her friends; they became weary of her constant conversations about work and simply stopped hanging out with her. 

Herein lies Claire’s problem: Her discontent was due to her laser focus on her future, not on what she could enjoy and be grateful for each day. Worry and self-absorption in a career promotion eventually caused unhappiness in her daily life and damage to her relationships.

So, what are some signs of becoming too future-focused and not living each day in the present?  

9 Signs You Aren’t Existing in the Present Moment: 

  1. Once a goal is completed, instead of a break, you immediately begin pushing toward the next step in your job, finances, or other life goals.
  2. From day to day, you feel like you are constantly “spinning your wheels” and not getting anywhere.
  3. Others aren’t understanding or cooperative with what you are trying to accomplish.
  4. There isn’t any joy in regular activities, or accomplishment in daily tasks, either at home or work.
  5. When a problem arises, you quickly find solutions to power through it instead of slowing down to evaluate the situation and the people involved.   
  6. Your plans for the future continually creep into conversations with friends, family, and especially your spouse or partner.
  7. Others comment that you aren’t a good listener, and don’t appear present in conversations when they are doing the talking.
  8. Less time is spent on activities with friends and families; it seems more like a chore than enjoyment.
  9. Your friends (or your partner) begin to pull away from you and avoid conversations about your work.

Our personal lives and relationships suffer when we spend time living toward a future we don’t even know will transpire. If you are a believer, Jesus teaches his disciples that living our best life is not worrying about what will be in the future, but instead to live in the present, each day:   

“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat
or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear.
Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?

“Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will
worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:25,34 (NIV)

Does this mean we shouldn’t work hard, establish goals, or create a life plan? Of course, we should! The Bible also says we should put our hearts into our work because, in all labor, there is profit (Proverbs 14:23). We will eat the fruits of our labor, and blessings and prosperity will be ours. (Psalm 128:2)

Jesus is not telling his disciples that it is okay to coast through life. Work is good and necessary. Yet we must realize that our plans may not work out as we imagine them. Only God knows what our future will be. Instead, Jesus simply asks us to trust God.

How do we do that? By seeking Him (praying) and creating a new mindset: working diligently, giving our best to God and His plan for us, not ours. You are building your future with God and His divine wisdom!

We can trust our future to God because He already knows what we need (Proverbs 16:3, Colossians 3:24). He promises that He will set us on the road that is best for us (Proverbs 3:5-6), one with peace, joy, and fulfillment (Romans 15:13).

Spend some time re-evaluating your goals today. Are you too future-focused? Are you trusting God for a future that is the best for you?


5 responses to “9 Signs You Aren’t Existing in the Present Moment”

  1. I can relate to Clai’re’s story, only I was Suzanne in this scenario. I got promoted very early in my career, and once I had my dream job, I found myself thinking “now what?”I didn’t have immediate next goals and sort of settled to just do the best job I could in my position. It worked for me. Today my motto is “life is what happens while you’re busy making (other) plans.” I go with the flow and make the best of it.

  2. WOW Cheryl this was an eye opener! This is me in so many ways even now that we're semi-retired. I keep forgetting to live for today and enjoy things instead of constantly thinking of the future.

  3. I can tell when I am not existing in the present moment because my thoughts are elsewhere. I'm not really “there” in the moment. My body might be there, but my mind is somewhere else – either in the past or the future. This can happen when I am worrying about something that happened in the past or stressing about something that might happen in the future. I'm not really living in the moment when this happens. Instead, I am living in my head.

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