Future Goal Setting Vs. Living in the NOW

In gym

And so another year begins.  There are many reminders around the place of the need to set goals for the year ahead in order to reinforce those New Year’s resolutions ….. I’ve been wondering how all this FUTURE goal setting fits in with the idea of being present in the moment and living in the NOW.

The holiday season always gives me opportunities to have great conversations with friends and family and they often provide good fodder for my internal ponderings.  Plus there are always life events that impact me and shift my perceptions along the way.

I was speaking with a friend the other day about a youngish mate of his that had died unexpectedly a few days prior.  Often when there is a loss of someone, I remind myself of the importance of being present and making the most of every day.  When I expressed this to my friend and said something along the lines of … “it’s sad that we don’t live more in the moment”, he looked at me with surprise and scoffed away my comment.

I asked him what he meant by that and he said that he felt most people DID live for the moment and that is why everyone is in so much debt!  He thought the instant gratification of acquiring possessions via the credit card, rather than long term saving and goal setting was badly affecting most people.  We ended the conversation with the general agreement that perhaps living more simply in the present moment was a great goal, while still having a longer-term vision of what could be created in the future.

Another conversation with my cousin revealed the power of goal setting.  She sets goals every 3 years and loves ticking off her achievements as they take place.  2015 was the end of her 3-year cycle and so she was in the midst of allocating time to do her next list of goals.  When I asked why 3 years, she indicated that some things take time to achieve so she includes both short term and longer-term goals in her process.  She explained that she has great success doing it this way.

So, I wondered, with all this goal setting, does this mean that we are not living in the present moment? Does this mean that we are always focused on the future rather than being in the here and now?

When I think back to the beginning of 2015 and consider whether or not I have achieved my goals for the year, I find that the answer is yes in many cases.  However the key realisation for me is that while I did achieve the goals, I couldn’t have imagined that they would come via the path that they turned up in my life.

Let’s look at a simple example, say, you need a new pair of shoes.  You imagine that you will need to get in the car, drive to the shop and buy the shoes, right? However, as it turns out, you happen to be visiting a friend who happens to have recently bought the shoes you wanted, decided that they didn’t like them after all and gives the shoes to you instead.  Same outcome, but a different pathway.

Take a moment and think about a goal that you have had successfully achieved. Did it turn up the way you thought it would, or were you ‘present’ enough to see it arriving in a different way and you jumped on that opportunity instead?

I think this is the point that I have arrived at in my ponderings.  Having goals and intentions for the future are so vital in creating the life that you desire.   However, it is equally important to be living in the present moment, being aware of how life is unfolding day by day and recognising opportunities that are provided (even those from left field), then allowing your intellect and feelings to guide you on your path of fulfillment.

Below is my own personal goal setting approach that I take each year.  I like to create short, medium and long-term goals, giving attention to the 7 main areas of life.  Perhaps you’d like to use it and personalise it for yourself.

Here are 3 hints for goal setting:

  1. Are they do-able, actually achievable?
  2. Are they important to you, or are they someone else’s plan for you? (this will impact whether or not you will find motivation to do them)
  3. Are they inspiring so that they activate you into action?

Let me know how you go.

1 Year    3 Years    5 Years  GOALS


  • Physical (Health/Wellness/Happiness)
  • Social
  • Family
  • Financial
  • Job/Career
  • Mental (Education/Development)
  • Spiritual

Love and Wisdom