We’re often told, these days, to try to live in the present. We know we shouldn’t dwell on the past or fret about the future. In fact, so much of contemplative prayer is about being present in the moment, in the now.
But as people of faith, there is a way in which we should also be future-minded. We’re aware that our best self lies ahead, in the person God is creating us to be. To look to the future is to keep hope alive.
This applies to other areas of our life, too. Leadership coach Peter Bregman says that for the sake of the work and the projects we really care about, we need to practice being our future selves. We should move toward what we’re becoming, even if it doesn’t feel very productive right now.
So . . . what is it that you see in your future? Do you want to write? Keep writing, even if you don’t think you’re very good. Don’t put if off! Walk toward your future writerly self.
If you want to be productive, the first question you need to ask yourself is: Who do I want to be? Another question is: Where do I want to go? Chances are that the answers to these questions represent growth in some direction. And while you can’t spend all your time pursuing those objectives, you definitely won’t get there if you don’t spend any of your time pursuing them.
Here’s the key: You need to spend time on the future even when there are more important things to do in the present and even when there is no immediately apparent return to your efforts. In other words — and this is the hard part — if you want to be productive, you need to spend time doing things that feel ridiculously unproductive.
Sometimes you need to be irresponsible with your current challenges in order to make real progress on your future self. You have to let the present just sit there, untended. It’s not going away and will never end.