You've goals that you want to achieve ' hopefully! And, again hopefully, those goals are big and exciting. By their very nature, your goals relate to things that you don't have right now ' they're off there somewhere in the future. And, if we're best motivated by big and exciting goals, why do so many personal development experts, myself included, place such high importance on the here and now, on focusing on the present moment? Why is Ekhart Tolle's 'The Power of Now' an international bestseller, if it's striving for something in the future that best motivates us. And, even more so, what is the point at all of focusing on the here and now if you actually don't like, or even hate, where you are in your life right now?
Make no mistake about it, we do need to establish goals for ourselves - we need to have some concrete idea of where we're heading. But, as a client said to me recently, 'I was so goal-oriented in my youth that I realized that I was living in a constant state of anticipation - I couldn't enjoy the here and now - I never really was present where I actually was!'. Where you are is here. When you are is now. Life can only be lived in the here and now. Sure, we might be striving towards future objectives, but those goals will only be achieved if we do our very best right here, right now.
Sadly, the normal mind is simply not up to the task. Our normal minds are constantly focused on the past - completely obsessed with what psychology terms as our 'stored knowledge' - the things that impressed us most about life and, more importantly, about our own self-image, during our formative years. Because our obsession with the past is constant and because it happens subconsciously, we are completely unaware of this constant backward focus. And yet it is this constant obsession that is the key player in our lives. It's that 'stored knowledge' that dictates the way that we feel about ourselves. It is the resultant self-image that dictates we act or react - and it is our behaviour that determines how we relate to others, how we rise to life's challenges or how, more normally, we simply muddle through each normal day. This self-'knowledge' runs our lives. This out-dated navel gazing saps the greater part of our mental energy and, as a consequence, our current behaviour becomes tainted, counter-productive and even self-sabotaging.
What you must completely understand is that, as our normal minds dictate, we can never do our best while we're focused on the past - yet looking backward is our default state of mind. And, even if we've managed to convince oursleves that we are going to achieve some future goal, it is only here and now that we can actually and effectively do our best. And because we're not present - mentally missing in action - we simply cannot do what it takes to achieve our objectives in life. The only place and time that we can do our best is here and now - and, as normal people, we haven't even bothered to turn up!
That is why it is so important to focus your mind on now. That's why it's oh so important that you train yourself to turn up to the here and now. We must stack the cards in our favour because, as things stand, our default mental settings have stacked the cards against us. If you don't develop your ability to pay attention to the here and now, your subconscious mind, which is programmed to focus on the past, will always win, will always undo your best efforts, will always repeat broken behaviours and will permanently make sure that you're stuck where you are, going nowhere in your career, your relationships or your life - you name it, if you don't experience now you'll be forever stuck in the past.
In other words, if you've fixed your mind on the achievement of some future goal, it's how you're performing now that will determine the ultimate outcome - even if you're sitting eating your breakfast or drinking a cup of coffee. If you do such simple things mindlessly - without paying them due attention - you allow your subconscious mind to idle in default. You perpetuate your obsession with the past so that, as you go through your day, you'll fail to notice the opportunities that arise that will take you towards your intended destination because you simply will not be able to see them.
What I'm saying is that learning to focus your mind on the moment, on the task in hand, whatever that might be; starts with the little, regular, normal, repetitive things that we do all the time. By starting small, we destroy our subconscious mind's focus on the past and drag it (often kicking and screaming) into the present. And as we take more and more baby steps to dismantle our preoccupation with the past, the more we unleash our potential - the more we start hitting that peak performance zone - because we're here, we're present, we're set up to do our very best.
We need to do all in our power to cultivate our ability to focus on what is real in this moment and what is opportune in this moment. Meditation is an extraordinarily powerful tool - because meditation disciplines the mind to only focus on and experience what is actually taking place now. However, the majority of people who meditate don't get it. They do it to feel good for those few minutes rather than putting their altered state of mind to the practical moment-to-moment use that would transform their lives. In cultivating our ability for presence, we are not seeking some guru-like other-worldly state of mind - there is no practicality in wandering around in a fog of peace and love! We are seeking to do the job in hand, to take on more responsibility for our lives and to do just what needs to be done, right here, right now - and to do it as abnormally best as we can.
In the end, it is only when we come to fully experience the here and now will we come to realize that the life that we thought we were living was nothing more than a concoction of our warped, normal, backward-looking minds.