How do you go about getting the most out of every day? In my seemingly never-ending quest to answer this question, I think I have come up with at least part of the answer.
To get the most out of anything, you need to have a thorough understanding of it. It stands to reason, then, that in order to get the most out of your life one day at a time, you need to have a good understanding of your life, what it means to you, and what you expect to gain from or get out of it.
This understanding, which will be different and personal for everyone who goes through the exercise, can be gained when you take the following steps:
- Reflect on your Past
- Focus on your Present
- Plan for your Future
- Repeat as necessary
Reflect on your Past
Reflect is the key word here. Your past must remain your past if you are to proceed with a healthy perspective. That means that you should neither ignore it nor dwell on it.
Professional athletes are successful, in part, because they are able to forget their last game or their last play, whether it was good or bad. In so doing, they neither carry any unnecessary baggage nor are they weighed down by inflated expectations. This does not mean, however, that they do not learn from their experiences. They just look at them for what they are. The same can be and should be true for you.
If you make an error, you reflect on it long enough to figure out what you did wrong and then you go forward determined not to make that same mistake again. If you do something wonderful, you reflect on what you did right so that you can go about trying to replicate that same feat the next time.
Focus on your Future
Your ability to focus on the moment and your role in what is going on around you will go a long way toward ensuring that you fully enjoy and appreciate each step along the way. Dwelling on your past or worrying about something that may or may not happen too far into your future will only serve to dilute your present. You certainly will be unable to get the most out of every day if those days are comprised of a series of diluted moments.
Notice that I am not imploring you to be happy, but rather to experience your present for what it truly is. You cannot rush through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff. Grief, pain, suffering, heartache, and aggravation are all part of a life fully lived. Turning toward those feelings and emotions will only help you to better cope with them, which will help you to be more appreciative and aware when the joy, elation, wonder, awe, and glee inevitably roll around.
Plan for the Future
The best way to be prepared for your future is to set your own course toward it. When you are the architect of your plan, you take a major step toward living each day with purpose and meaning.
When you plan for your future, you spend time making things happen. You know why you are doing what you are doing and you are much more likely to feel confident and determined because of that understanding.
You just need to make sure that you don’t overdo it. Winston Churchill once said that, “It is a mistake to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny is created one link at a time.” Trying to solve all of the mysteries of the universe all at once will only lead to frustration and discouragement and, once again, detract from the here and now.
Repeat as necessary
You may find that you need to repeat these steps many times throughout the day or that once a day is enough. That is up to you. Reflect, Focus, and Plan as often as is necessary to ensure that you get the most out of each day.
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.