I have always been a very self-driven person. I am fortunate that my parents never really pushed me at all; rather the only thing they required was that when I make a commitment, I do my best to stick with it. As far back as I can remember though, I have always been looking ahead and planning what’s next to come in my life - whether it be my next meal, my next adventure or my next career move. The time I spent focusing on the present moment was only to figure out what was wrong or what was missing in my life in order to create a plan of action.
Being a driven planning type of person is not all bad. In fact, I attribute most of my accomplishments and many great things that have happened in my life to the driven/planning side of my personality. But as I get older, I have realized two things.
1. I have hardly ever allowed myself time to relax, celebrate or bask in any moment for too long because my mind has always been racing to the next thing that I think I need to do or accomplish. I mean if I was really being honest when asked what I like to do for fun, I should say that creating “To Do” lists and crossing things off is by far one of my favorite things to do.
2. My memory has never been that great. I think it’s because I have always felt like I’ve been in the driver’s seat cruising along in the fast lane watching the beautiful scenery fly by without slowing down to see what’s going on around me. I’ve been rushing through life in a sense.
Are you finding yourself nodding your head? Many places in the world definitely breed this constant forward-thinking mentality, which again, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s when it slowly consumes your life to a point where you are constantly looking ahead and living in the future that it becomes a problem.
I’m not sure if it is because I hit the big 3-0 this past September or if it is because I am living in Colombia, a much slower-paced culture than what I am used to in the United States (or maybe it is a combination), but for the first time in my life, I have been forced to really slow down. I recognize now how freaking exhausting it is to always be mentally and emotionally ahead of your physical state.
My go-go-go mentality has put up many a fight along the way while living here over the past year. Something as insignificant as standing in line at the supermarket watching 5 minutes turn into 45 minutes to bigger things, like thinking worrying about what to do when my teaching contract ends in December. My internal accelerator is easily triggered, but I have thankfully started to learn to use that elusive brake pedal. I don’t plan or worry half as much as I used to about most things.
THE SECRET WEAPON
My secret weapon has been to focus on all of the good stuff in my life, especially the #littlethings. It helps me to relax and not get so caught up with my overactive exhausting forward-thinking brain.When you are focusing on the positive, good stuff, you don’t have as much time to worry about the future and devote attention to the negative. And remember, there’s always something good you can focus on even in the worst of times.