My whole life, I have kept a strong focus on what’s next. It’s constantly on my mind.
But this past summer, I made a conscious decision to change my mindset.
Stop focusing on what’s next and pay more attention to what’s now.
Now that we only have three kids at home, things have really slowed down. That may sound crazy to some, but I’m at fifty percent capacity right now. Things are a lot less complicated than they used to be.
But because I wanted to savor the moments with my children, I let go of the what’s next mentality and chose to be all in with my kids this summer.
We did some traveling. Noah went off to camp for a bit, Ari took a couple of trips with friends, and Milli and Noah and I traveled to Switzerland for a week to visit my sister.
But this summer was really about not putting pressure on myself or my kids. It was about enjoying the relaxation of a much-needed change in schedule.
This was one of the best decisions I ever made. But it’s not always easy.
To be honest, this is really hard for me.
Even now, as my children have all left for their first day of school, I find myself asking, “What’s next for me?”
All the housework and chores are done, I have worked on a couple of speeches, and I’m already back in that what’s next mindset.
I’ve once again joined the rat race of setting up the next speaking gig, writing the next article, and making that next phone call instead of just enjoying the moment.
I’m not saying that any of these things are bad. We need to be doing and learning and making a difference in the world. But we also need to be better at enjoying the moments that we are in.
It’s something we need to constantly remind ourselves of. There’s so much pressure not just to finish what we’re doing in record time but to always be looking at the next big step. We barely give ourselves time to breathe or to enjoy the moments that we’re actually living.
We need a break from the what’s next mentality so we can enjoy what already is.
When we visit Switzerland, I am always amazed at the difference in lifestyle there. My sister has lived there for twenty years. And every time we visit, I am reminded of the importance of living in the moment.
The people in Switzerland work hard. My sister is a psychiatrist, and when she works, she gives it her all. But when she’s off from work, she’s off from work. She’s never focused on what she has to do next. Instead, her focus is always on what she is doing now.
My visit this summer was, once again, a really good reminder for me that I need to be better at staying in the moment. And to stop putting pressure on myself to constantly worry about what’s next.
When you’re focused on the future, it’s really hard to live in the present.
Now that my kids are back to school, I want to instill in them this valuable life lesson. I don’t want them to think that they are working toward the end of the school year goal.
I want my kids to understand that what they are working toward is learning every day. It’s also about spending time with their friends and appreciating their teachers—savoring the moments.
It’s about learning skills in the moment and being able to apply those skills in the moment. And simply recognizing that by learning those skills in the moment, they can hold onto them and do something with them moving forward.
I hope that this year, my kids are present in the moment and let go of the pressure to always be consumed with the thought of what’s next.
I’m not saying that I don’t want them to plan for the future. There is definitely a place and a time for that, so they have goals to work towards.
But in their day-to-day living, I want them to fully live.
We can live in the present and still have goals for the future.
Goals are an important part of progress and growth. But living in the present is what will give us the skills and knowledge we need to accomplish those goals.
Once our goals are set, we need to let go of the pressure to constantly worry about what’s next. Our focus should be on what we are doing now, in the moment.
So many times, we forget to enjoy the moment because we are so focused on what comes next.
The reality is that we can work and learn in the moment and still have a goal further out.
Enjoy the moments because one day they’ll be gone.
With so many demands on our time, learning how to manage the work/life balance can be frustrating. But one of the ways we can lessen that frustration is by learning to live in the moment and let go of the pressure to figure out what’s next.
I hope that all you parents out there enjoy this moment of back to school.
For me, it’s bittersweet. I love that my kids are back in school and that they’re learning and that they get to be with their friends every day. But I’ve loved these last three months of having them home. I’ve loved the late morning wakeups and not worrying about the homework that needs to get done.
It’s been a more casual pace for us, and I have truly savored the moments.
As we move into the school year, I will definitely be reminding myself that we don’t need to go all-out all the time. I will be remembering the greatest lesson I learned from our summer break.
Enjoy the moments.
Because one day, those moments will be gone, and you will never get them back again.