Written by Dr. Adam Coats
You want to be successful. You want to accomplish your goals and make your friends and family proud. But at what cost? Are you willing to be successful at the cost of enjoying your life?
I recently watched the movie “Passengers” staring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. There’s a scene in the movie where the robot bartender Arthur says, “You can’t get so hung up on where you’d rather be, that you forget how to make the most of where you are.” I think statement has a lot of merit, and it especially hits home for me.
I’m a very goal and task-oriented person. I like to get things done and check them off of my list, with efficiency. After I get a couple things completed or a couple goals accomplished, I begin to build momentum and quickly get more things done and reach more goals. I get very frustrated with myself if I get distracted from this routine. I’m always looking for what’s next.
While it’s good to be motivated, work hard, achieve your goals, and always try to be thinking ahead, I don’t think it’s good to be that way all of the time. For me personally, it takes time and focus away from my current life. It takes away from me enjoying quality time with important people in my life and celebrating my achievements. Ideally, this area of my life would be a little more balanced where I’m still getting things done and working on my goals, yet I’m consistently taking time each day and each week to just be present with my life. It’s an area of my life that I’m currently working on, and I think there’s a lot of people that also struggle with this balance.
It’s important that we focus on our goals and stay motivated by thinking about what’s next, but at the same time we need to focus on the present and our current situations in life so that we can make the most of them on our way to 80, 90, 100 years and beyond. If we’re constantly focused on where we want to go next, what goal we want to accomplish next, what task we are looking to check off the list next, then we can’t make the most of where are. That’s no way to live your life. It may be a good way to reach achievement, but it’s not a good way to reach fulfillment. Which would you rather have?
A podcast by Tim Ferriss interviewing Tony Robbins was recently shared with me by a good friend. In the interview, Tony talks about the beloved actor Robin Williams and how he achieved everything he set out to do, yet he hung himself at the age of 63 because he wasn’t fulfilled. Here’s a man who was constantly focused on becoming better, achieving new goals, and higher levels of success, yet he died feeling unfulfilled in his life. I would argue that feeling fulfilled is more important and valuable than feeling accomplished. By continually focusing on the next accomplishment, you don’t leave yourself anytime to focus on fulfillment.
The next time you catch yourself caught up in what’s next, I challenge you to stop what you’re doing and be present with yourself and your life. Focus on where you are, what situation you’re in, and make the most of it. Be grateful for the life you live and all that you’ve accomplished. Ask yourself if you feel fulfilled. We all want more for ourselves and our families, but in order to have more we have to focus on where are at times and make the most of the situations we are in.