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Goal-Setting vs Living in the Moment: Can Both Work Together?

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

My role as a transformational life coach is to empower my clients to change their lives for the better. Through the New insights 13-step program, I introduce a range of practical tools and techniques for personal growth and development.

Goal-setting creates the foundation of this program, giving my clients something to aim for while learning to integrate empowering tools and techniques.

Having identified what’s working and what’s not working for them in their lives in the first step of the coaching program, my client writes a six-months goal. This “big, hairy goal” describes my client’s vision of what life will look like for them, six months down the line. But, isn’t this future-tripping, you might ask. Shouldn’t we rather be living in the moment?

This is where it can get confusing especially as I’m an advocate of living in the NOW. My clients are familiar with the saying, “Now is the moment of power.” How does it work when comparing goal-setting vs living in the moment? Keep reading to find out!

What is Goal-Setting?

Why do you and I set goals? Answering for myself, goal-setting entails identifying which of my life areas are out of balance, why they’re not working for me, and what I want to see happening instead.

What are the eight life areas that I focus on?

  • Emotional: What emotions am I struggling with? Has anger or sadness taken control of my life or am I feeling good, as I experience more hope and joy on a daily basis?

  • Health: How’s my overall well-being? Do I feel fit, strong, and healthy or can I improve my wellness rate?

  • Partner: What’s happening in my romantic partner life area? Does it need improvement or am I looking for that perfect life partner?

  • Vocation (career): Does my career fulfill me or am I searching for more job satisfaction? Am I doing what I love doing, most of the time?

  • Money: How’s my financial security and are my beliefs around money serving me?

  • Personal development: Do I want to understand myself better or is there a course I’ve always wanted to do but never got around to doing?

  • Family/social relationships: Do I have loving and fulfilling relationships with my family and friends?

  • Spiritual: Do I believe in a Higher Power? How would I describe it? How important is the spiritual connection for me?

Defining and Setting My Goal

I evaluate all eight life areas and prioritize three that I want to work on for the next six months. The next step is writing up a goal that inspires me and I read it every day. Every Sunday evening, I sit down and make a list of action steps that need to be done in the following week to bring me closer to achieving my goal.

Having a goal to work towards and implementing action steps to reach my outcome, gives me direction and focus every single day. My goal and action steps bring me into the moment as I focus on what needs to be done today.

You see, once I’ve read my goal in the morning, I put it away (trusting the Universe is taking good care of it!) and bring my attention to what needs to be done NOW.

Having priorities and knowing where I’m heading keeps me grounded in the present. If I didn’t have direction, I would be stressing about what needs to be done in order for my future to unfold. This is a dangerous place to be because you’re certainly not in the present!

Focusing only on what needs to be done today without my attention getting sidetracked into the future keeps me in the most powerful place called NOW.

Our Brains Are Wired for Survival (in other words - to worry!)

Knowing that your brain is wired for survival helps you to understand why your mind often strays to the future, more often than not, creating worse-case scenarios! Human beings are hard-wired to worry, constantly creating stories in our minds about how the future should pan out by us trying to control the outcome.

How familiar are you with these movie tracks in your mind when you start future tripping?

  • If I don’t get that promotion I’m going to lose my home?

  • I’m not getting enough clients! Oh no, I’m going to become a bag lady on the streets!

  • Is he going to arrive at his destination safely? What if there are detours and he has to take a road full of potholes? Oh no, he’s going to have an accident!

Future-tripping takes you out of the present moment, leading to self-doubt and uncertainty. Before you know it, you’re in the land of misery as you worry endlessly trying to control a situation you actually can’t.

Having a goal gives me clarity and keeps me on MY right path. It keeps me focused on my true life purpose while ensuring I align every action with my goal and my personal core values. A well-thought-out goal gives you the discipline and commitment you need to achieve your outcomes.

What Does Living in the Moment Mean?

Goals are the stepping stones to getting you to where you want to be. If you don’t take each step mindfully, in the present, you lose focus on the journey where it’s all happening. If you’ve only been focusing on the end goal, you often find yourself off track and wondering how you got there in the first place!

Living in the moment doesn’t only mean letting go of the past or not fixating on the future. It means staying in the present, mindful of your thoughts, emotions, and actions in every moment. Living in the present moment allows you to assess your current reality as it is while evaluating your emotions and thoughts.

Through this process, you can control what is happening NOW and choose to change what is holding you back by reflecting on what is going on for you today. Focusing on the NOW allows you to see and enjoy present possibilities without missing out on them because you’ve been dwelling in the past or future.

Living in the moment helps you to manage your stress levels, reducing anxiety which is good for your mental health. Being present prevents you from falling into the trap of expectations which often result in disappointment when they’re not met.

Tips for Living in the Moment

Staying in the moment keeps you centered and grounded and here are some tips for mastering the art of living in the NOW:

  • Breathwork: This can be done by practicing meditation or yoga.

  • Focus and go with the flow: Energy flows where attention goes and focusing on one thing at a time allows you to stay centered while being in a state of flow.

  • Zone into your senses: Become aware of the sounds and smells around you. Feel the smoothness of your dog’s fur as you stroke him or indulge in the taste sensation of eating a delicious dish.

  • ·Avoid social media: Scrolling through Facebook or Instagram is a surefire way of distracting you from the present. Allocating and limiting time to using social media every day helps to keep you informed but not out of the present moment for too long.

  • Educate yourself: Reading books that talk about the power of the NOW will help you explore other ways of bringing yourself into the moment.

Eckhart Tolle’s book, “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment" is an excellent read for learning how to live in the moment and why it’s important for our spiritual growth and enlightenment.

His book, "Stillness Speaks" shares what the author calls, "a state of presence" by living in the now. The book is inspirational while sharing practical tips for living in the moment.

Another of my favorite books for tuning into the NOW is "The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself" by Michael A. Singer. The author talks about meditation and mindfulness as ways to break limitations while transcending yourself using the power of NOW.

Goal-Setting vs Living in the Moment: Can Both Work Together?

Goal-setting and living in the moment are two completely different things and yet, being present is the most powerful way of achieving your dreams and visions. The two concepts can and must work together in order for you to be successful when setting goals.

Setting goals is all about imagining your tomorrow. Embracing today allows you to put the action steps in place so that your goal becomes a reality. Having goals empowers you to be present ensuring you take the necessary steps today.

Having goals stops your mind from disappearing into “what if” scenarios. They let you zone in on what needs to be done NOW to get you to where you want to be. Goal-setting and living in the moment lets you JUST BE. How empowering is that?

Goals simplify your life because you know what needs to be done each day and you can enjoy doing them knowing there is a clear-cut reason for doing so. Goals stop you from aimlessly wandering through life, missing opportunities the present moment has to give you – every single moment.

Final Thoughts

Way before I became a life coach I thought goals were pretty pointless and I never heard about living in the moment. When I did discover goal-setting, I battled to understand how being in the NOW was the key to achieving my dreams.

What I didn’t understand then was that I was either regurgitating past experiences or stressing about my future. Neither action was getting me any closer to where I wanted to be! Learning to live in the moment was a game changer for me as I realize that was where all the power actually was.

Being present keeps me centered and calm while enjoying every action step that I take upon a moment knowing I was on track to reaching my dreams and so much more. Are you struggling to set goals while using the present moment to reach them? Contact me today and let’s talk!

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