Let’s have a little fun and begin with an exercise. Begin by taking a break and go sit anywhere outside. Once your comfortable, take your hand and hold it about a foot in front of your eyes. It’s probably been a while since you really looked at your hands so focus for at least a minute on every detail. Study your nails or the lines in your skin for at least a minute.
This next step may be challenging but it is critical that you keep your focus on your hand without allowing your eyes to refocus. Now while focusing on your hand, glance past it at something in the distance. You will probably discover, if you keep your eyes focused on your hand, everything in the distance seems blurry.
If you do this for too long, you may get a slight headache because you are forcing your eyes to focus on something up close while looking at something in the distance.
When you think of the past, present, and future, you will realize that the only place you can take an action is in the present. You cannot change the past and you will never live in the future because when you get to the future it will be your present. Basically, you and I always live now and now is the only time we have power.
Since you can’t change the past, it doesn’t make sense to dwell on it. It is equally irrational to attempt to live in the future because it is only possible to live in the present. Living in the present, now, is a critical part of enjoying a fulfilling life. But, if you focus on the present, you may have a few challenges.
You are likely to bump into things, when you are walking or driving, if you focus only on where you are at any given moment. As children, we are constantly reminded to “look where you’re going”. It helps us avoid banging our knees, hitting our head, or wrecking our car. We learn to avoid pain by looking ahead.
I would suggest you consider this from an investment perspective. Investors can only act now. You cannot invest in the past and the future isn’t here yet. Investing is, like everything else, an activity that must be done in the present. But investors who focus on the present may slam into obstacles in their future. They may also spend the majority of their time reacting to short-term news by continuously changing their investments.
Successful investing requires a balance of your ability to act only in the present with the necessity of preparing and planning for your future. When you act in the present while focusing on your future you will discover the patience needed to stick to your investing plan. You will also free up time to actually live your life! Money is the means to provide for the lifestyle you want, but, money is not your life.
Act now based on what you would like to have in the future. Ignore the short-term and focus on your long-term strategy. Live now but look at the path ahead. Life is a journey not a destination. Live now and make sure to have fun!
Photo Credit: Paul Puckett 2011