How to achieve your future goals by staying mindful in the present

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At the start of each year it can be tempting to start new projects, make big plans or launch into achieving your resolutions. But, after a month into the year, many people find that life gets in the way and their goals have already fallen by the wayside. And it feels especially hard to make plans for 2021 because no-one quite knows how this year is going to turn out, or what factors beyond our control will affect our personal lives.

So, even though you may have great ideas and are working toward your future goals, it’s important not to look too far ahead if you forget to enjoy the ‘here and now’. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make plans or set goals – it’s about achieving a happy medium that lets you be optimistic about the future while making the most of every day.

If you don’t take care of yourself in the present you’ll probably end up getting burnt out before you achieve your goals so, even though you should keep an eye on the future, remember to enjoy today. Mindfulness is one of the four key elements of Dialectical Behavior Therapy that helps people to even out the highs and lows in life so it’s essential for staying on top of your mental health. If you’ve got the ability to stay in the present, it can help you feel less anxious about the future and to enjoy each day as it comes, even when you’re taking steps toward achieving your goals.

According to psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days one of the main reasons that most new years resolutions fail is that they aren’t specific enough. That’s where having a goal tracker really comes into its own – if you can break it down and see the individual steps you need to take to reach your goal you’ll be more likely to move toward it in the present, rather than seeing it as this ‘big thing’ that’ll happen ‘sometime’ in the future.

Rather than thinking ahead for the whole year, try using a shorter 90-day journal to keep you working toward your goal while prioritising the present. Making use of monthly spreads and weekly review pages is the ideal way to get specific with your future plans, but it’s the daily time trackers that shows you exactly what you need to do each day to take steps toward your goals. It certainly helps you feel motivated when you can see exactly what you’ve manage to achieve each day. Those small daily habits are what will eventually create the future life you want.

HOW TO STAY IN THE PRESENT WHILE WORKING TOWARD YOUR GOALS

  • Use a mindfulness app such as Headspace to enjoy a peaceful few minutes and ‘reset’ a busy mind.
  • Set a timer to take regular breaks from your work and do something for yourself, like make a cup of tea, speak to a friend or flick through a magazine.
  • Appreciate the little things and keep a note of things you’re grateful for in a journal.
  • Join a meditation group such as Mindsprings Practice Space to add some quiet time to your calendar.
  • Tune into the sounds and smells around you – perhaps that birdsong or fresh coffee scent is exactly what you need to make you smile today.
  • Choose a tracker or journal with uplifting quotes to keep you inspired.
  • Get up from your desk and get moving – this could be Zoom exercise session at home, going for a walk or stretch along with a yoga video on YouTube.
  • Give your pet some undivided attention, they can help to lower stress and anxiety.
  • Make notes and lists when ideas pop into your head during your downtime rather than working on them straight away.
  • Enjoy your evenings and weekends, you don’t have to be working on your goal 24/7 to achieve it – you’ll get there in the end.

And finally, don’t feel bad if you haven’t stuck to your resolutions or goals for the year so far; according to a YouGov study only a quarter of people kept all their new years resolutions in 2020 – but considering the year we had, can you blame them? There’s even a recognised ‘quitters day‘ in January so if you’ve made it past the 17th and you’re still working toward your goal, good on ya! Ditch the 12-month diary in favour of a more concise 3-month tracker to give you a focused approach that’ll help you get through the month, the week, or even just today.

Let me know how you like to plan out your days, weeks or months to achieve your goals and I’d love to hear how you unwind, so please leave your tips for mindful days in the comments below πŸ™‚

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.