It’s funny, we make such lofty plans for the future – lose a couple of stone, get that bikini body, publish a book – yet so often we fail to reach our goals.
What exactly is the problem?
If you want something badly enough, it should be fairly straightforward to achieve a goal like that, right?
All too often, our short term needs interfere with our long term goals. I read a great article on this recently that cited a study done by a couple of Harvard professors. Basically, our long term goal might be to get fit, but all too often the lure of the short term payoff will win out.
While we might have planned a trip to the gym after work, it’s tempting to spend the night on the sofa with a pizza and a Netflix marathon instead. After all, one night won’t hurt us. And we’ve been working hard lately, we deserve a break.
That’s true, but when one lazy night becomes a regular occurrence, there’s no chance of achieving that long term fitness goal.
There’s one school of thought that will tell us the only way to be happy is to live in the moment. If we’re always planning for something bigger and better that will make us happy and fulfilled in the future, we’ll never be able to appreciate what we have right now.
But the biggest problem with this argument is that what you need in the short term is not always what will benefit you in the long term.
So how do you get the balance right?
It’s easy to plan your time too strictly and not allow for enough rest. I’ve been working hard on my novel lately, but I’m struggling to maintain the momentum of work, blog, book, life.
If I ever want to see my novel in print, I’ve got to suck it up and work hard. But I’ve also got to remember that rest time is part of the process. Spending time out with friends or on the sofa with a book is an important part of replenishing my energy levels, as well as finding fresh inspiration.
And when you work too hard, too long, you can start to lose sight of your objective. You forget why it’s so important to reach that target, when all you can think about is your next break. When you push too hard, you need a lot more time to recover and the work you’ve already put in can suffer, as it takes so much longer to find your motivation again.
The main thing is to remember that we’re all human. Our goals should be a positive thing; reaching them shouldn’t destroy us.
Enjoy the moment when you can without guilt, but never lose sight of the future or the reason you’ve been working so hard.