I have a terrible case of the "I-Can't-Wait-Until"s.
I Can't Wait Until... I never have to use Quickbooks again.
I Can't Wait Until... I can ignore my phone for an entire weekend without company crisis.
I am a forward thinker, always have been. My early childhood journals consist of bullet-pointed lists (mostly of reasons why my parents should let me keep a horse in our backyard) and elaborate plans for college, career, and beyond.
Sure, thinking about the future so much can be totally motivational. It pushes me to improve my work and streamline the time I spend on unsavory or boring tasks and makes the work I do enjoy seem even better in comparison.
But, more often than not, this kind of thinking is toxic to my day to day happiness. It keeps me from feeling satisfied, even after I cross the milestones I set for myself with those endless "Can't-Wait-Until"s.
You see, I've created this magical life in my mind. This is a life I will live, one day in the future, if I work a little harder and wait a little longer. In this future life, I have everything I want or need (ahem, horse in my backyard). I am challenged but not stressed. I am socially engaged but have time to myself. I am free to travel but have a strong sense of home. I am completely at ease and totally happy.
But I've realized something lately. And what I have come to realize is not what you might think - that this "perfect" life is mythical or impossible. No, in fact, the exact opposite - this life I've created for myself in my mind is real, and it is actually totally, one hundred percent possible.
And what's even more amazing than the mere existence of this place?
I am already there.
I am already challenged, with a flexible schedule I create for myself. I already have wonderful friends and family. My company is growing constantly, and my life is always changing in unexpected ways. I travel frequently, and I live in a wonderful city. Day to day I do not experience excessive external stress. I wake up looking forward to what the day holds.
When I think about all of this, it actually boggles my mind. It is incredible! And yet, I lose sight of it all the time.
Don't we all? It's actually fairly ironic: When we are working towards these big, magical goals, when we are living our dreams, we get even more caught up in the day to day "What-Ifs" and "Can't-Wait-Until"s. We miss the fact that we are living in this great place!
In the past I've used the "that's-just-how-I-am" excuse: "Hey, I can't help it! I'm future oriented! I am just meant to be unsatisfied a certain percentage of the time! It's my instinct to hope for the next big thing."
But my goal in writing this blog post is to force myself into some kind of authentic present appreciation. I don't mean that I am going to write in a gratefulness journal every day, or meditate every night before I go to sleep.
I am, however, going to adopt a new mantra:
I am already there. I am already exactly where I want to be.
I'm hoping that as I take my focus away from making tomorrow happen faster, I feel more free to be creative, to deviate from the pre-determined path I've laid out.
Maybe I'll use this newfound freedom to nurture my creative spirit. Maybe taking the stress off results and focusing on the process means I'll be kinder to myself and the people around me. Maybe I will use this newfound time and mental space to make my present more enjoyable instead of making my future more desirable.
And to all of those of you who are just like me, who think about the future constantly, striving to reach something better, ask yourself this: What does your ideal future life, the life you are supposedly working towards, really look like? How does it make you feel? What are you doing or not doing?
And, once you have that concrete in your mind, ask another question: What about that perfect future is already manifested in your present?
In imagining this perfect place for yourself in the future, really getting to know the kind of life you want to live, you might just find, like I did, that you are already there.