How to Live in the Moment and Achieve Goals at the Same Time

How can one possibly know how to live in the moment while achieving goals at the same time?

Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? It seems that you must enjoy, savor or fully experience everything there is right now, while being able to handle the stress and pressure out of your responsibilities, all at the same time.

First off, you can live in the moment—you can practice mindfulness—even though you’re one of the busiest persons on earth.

But this doesn’t mean that doing it is easy.

I myself am just starting to practice mindfulness, pretty much in everything I do. It can be funny, because the moment you decide to do it, you realize it can be hard. And you may think, “What on earth have I been thinking? What have I been doing?”

There are a lot of moments in which we function on autopilot. We do things out of the routine that we engage in them only physically at best; we’re basically disengaged.

When you learn how to live in the moment, you become kinder to yourself. A balance is struck between you and that moment.

Just imagine you’re in the middle of something, say, you’re finishing a report that’s due tomorrow morning. Tonight, your favorite team’s going to play the championship. But you’ll also have to attend to your toddler who’s not feeling well.

In the meantime, it’s only eight o’clock in the morning and you have to continue working on the report.

You’d have to live in every moment while you’re on that paperwork. You’d have to enjoy, savor or fully experience it. Because you have to finish it. Because the moment asks for it.

Now how do you become kinder to yourself?

You try to push away the thoughts that would bother you—your excitement for the game that night, and your worries about your kid. The thoughts will definitely come, but if you allow yourself to entertain them every time they do, you lose the opportunity to make the best out of the given moment.

The championship game won’t go away. Your toddler’s being taken care of by your spouse. In other words, you’ve already arranged things for your other circumstances; they should be fine.

You’re just left with that report.

You’re left with the now.

Below are ways you can be mindful and achieve goals at the same.

1. Focus on that one thing you’re doing.

I used to think that whenever I thought about the past or future, it automatically meant I didn’t focus on the task at hand.

But that would be the case if at that moment there was indeed a task at hand.

You could think about what could’ve gone wrong at work the other day, or about that place you’re excited to take your family or friends to—as long as it’s what you intend to do at that very moment.

So focus on it, in any case.

If you need to think, just think.

You get lost when you decide to engage in an activity but think of totally different and unexpected thoughts that would come along the way.

2. Embrace your everyday routine.

Practice makes perfect—mindfulness, apparently, isn’t exempted from this truth.

Aside from focusing on the most challenging tasks, don’t forget to exercise mindfulness even on the mundane ones. From finishing the report, to making coffee.

When you decide to live in every moment, you essentially don’t want to think about this very moment later, and don’t want to worry about what’s going to happen two hours from now.

Treat every routine task like the most important ones. This way, you handle everything as if they were all the same—you’d want to be mindful of all of them.

There is freedom in mindfulness, freedom from what is not happening right now, freedom most people don’t realize they have.

Don’t you want that?

3. Love and respect your own pace.

You could have different moods at any given moment, because of different factors. These factors could be distractions, or things you simply remember.

Being mindful is engaging in what it is you’d like to pursue.

Let’s be honest, though—a bad mood could be a real bummer. You could even be in a bad mood for the whole day. And sometimes, you’d rather find something else to do just to make yourself feel better.

Mindfulness can come into play for times like this.

At the back of your mind, you want to get things done, sometimes at any expense. And you’d rather want to be wise.

When you’re caught in distressing or overwhelming moments—slow down.

Remember, you also aim to be mindful of yourself—of what you can do, of how you perform.

Other thoughts will come. Just allow them to, but slowly push them away.

It takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, you could always make your pace faster next time.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you should be slow all the time. When you master living in the moment, however, you become more appreciative, more efficient and more productive—on your own pace.

4. Stop doing things that don’t matter—seriously.

It always amazes me how fast time is.

Whether I’m just loving the pace, or it’s Monday all of a sudden, or there seems to be nothing to do even—time slips away fast.

And if you’re like me who takes a nap in the middle of the day, who claims to have a lot of things to do, but who also sometimes likes to kill time—the truth is, you’ll have to give up doing things that don’t really matter.

You will definitely find such things.

There is compromise. There is sacrifice. If you want something awesome to happen, you’re going to have to do both.

For example, lately I’ve been watching a TV series for the second time now. I started watching it just during breaks, or as a sort of reward for the work I do every day. But I find the series still as good as when I first watched it, that it actually got me hooked I watched it for hours yesterday.

If I can’t control myself in this situation now, there will be another series that can have me hooked the same way.

That is just an example.

There could be things you’re doing—in your work itself—that you don’t need. Beware of busywork; it can cloud the important parts, sometimes the only parts that are needed.

5. Put space between activities.

I’ve created a daily and hourly schedule that I more or less stick to every day. But I may be revising it, because I outright made it without putting “buffer zones” between activities.

These buffer zones, or spaces, become a breather for you, preventing the “overwhelm” factor you may experience going from one activity to another. Without these spaces, you’d find yourself to be seemingly always rushing for the next task, and when you do that, you’d hardly be in the moment. You’d instead encourage anxiety and fear, all while mindlessly doing your job.

Besides, you can always adjust, or improve, your pace. Make the most out of every moment. Learn—right now—so you won’t find yourself trying to relearn later, with which time could only become a waste.

6. Practice meditation.

Meditation has been known to have huge benefits, unfairly huge in exchange for just sitting down for 15 minutes a day.

Meditation definitely won’t accomplish your goals, but it helps you sharpen your mindfulness itself. Basically, if you can apply mindfulness well during meditation, you can apply it as well to any other activities.

The act of sitting down itself isn’t the center. It’s the practice of mindfulness you can integrate into your habits, your routine, your life.

Meditation is a great way to prepare yourself for living in the moment. As important as, or even more important than, a speaker needs to practice his speech before delivering it. Or a student needs to study for a big exam.

Think About It

One question you could ask yourself now and then is, “What can I possibly do right now?”

Action is an integral part of living, of reaching goals. It should take the majority of your waking hours—as against thinking, planning, or daydreaming.

Learning how to live in the moment gives you an edge. It allows for more productivity. It makes you a happier person in general.

Whatever the case, just remember: Live in the now.

You plan and execute, but the bottom line is, you just have right here, you just have right now.

Where else would you rather live if not in the moment?

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5 thoughts on “How to Live in the Moment and Achieve Goals at the Same Time”

  1. Hey Ethan,

    Brilliant read. Staying in the now gets our goals met. I have found the mundane jobs like cleaning or hanging out the clothes, remaining focused on the task can relieve me of my busy day.

    Where would we be without the buffer? There are so many benefits to the buffer. I do 45 minutes of work for 15 minute breaks. This time table suits me. When I hit the 30 minute work mark, I may check out the time and know I have only a short time remaining, so I go in hard. I also have a list of activities for my breaks. Throughout my day I achieve so much.

    I must say I love hearing you have a nanny nap. I have stopped mine as I get out and about walking. But they certainly are a boost. I used to do guided meditation in my nap time, to come out totally refreshed.

    Meditating is essential and is scheduled into my routine morning and night. You are so right about the sharpness of the brain. The clarity always pleases me.

    You have stated so many benefits to staying in the now. I thoroughly enjoyed your post.


    1. Hi Rachel,

      I can definitely have “rest” (from busyness) with mundane tasks as well. If you think about it, they’re an opportunity, so why not just take advantage of them?

      I believe you’re talking about the Pomodoro Technique. Been trying to do this but to be honest, I’m more for longer stretches of work, which eventually go with relatively shorter breaks.

      I’m all for naps. I’m actually glad the Dalai Lama said, “Sleep is the best meditation”!

      I believe meditation is a process, it’s an integral part of life. We shouldn’t do it “whenever we just need to.” We need it for reasons like those we mentioned.

      Thanks for dropping by, Rachel, and for your great comment.

  2. Hello Ethan

    Great article!

    I agree, we have to live in the moment to appreciate life more. None of us want to wonder how life passed by so quickly when we reach the end.

    Sometimes I tend to think that to achieve a certain goal, say winning a race or something, you need to keep thinking about how it would feel to have achieved it already. And so I tend to focus on the future, how my various goals will be realized and how I will feel when I have achieved them.

    But I learned that the journey to a certain goal, is often more important than the act of achieving the goal itself. You may practice for months for a specific race, but you get to enjoy the feeling of having won it for only a day. And if you don’t live in the moment during your practice months, you’re essentially wasting all those months, because you’re not appreciating them.

    So I guess what I try to tell myself on my busy days, is “This is as exciting as life is going to get. This may be as happy and fulfilled as you will ever feel. So you might as well enjoy it!”

    Thanks for sharing your insights.


    1. Hi Nelu,

      Just be careful about “fantasies,” or set a boundary between “keeping the goal in mind” and fantasies, as there’s research that says that fantasies can affect how we live in the now … similar to over-thinking when there’s reality we have to act upon right now … I just wanted to mention that. 🙂 I try to think more about what’s happening right now, and I simply believe that the rest will just follow. I moderate my expectations, in a way.

      I also learned that “the work is the goal.” Sometimes I can’t get that to sink in, but I’m learning that a lot of times we do focus on the *end* goal, when the real goal is our commitment, our courage, our happiness–along the way. It’s in the journey, not at the finish line. Most of the time we forget that.

      Hey, that’s a nice mantra. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your ideas, too. Always great to have you here.


  3. Read the “Power of Now” recently and landed up with some inner conflict between living in the now and setting goals/visualization.

    I feel smart goals enslave you with time and are impracticable.

    I think to truly live in the now your goals must be perpetual. Striving to-do your best in the now. Slow and steady I’m sure you surpass any goal you ever set.

    I’d really like to hear others insights into living in the now and setting smart goals in the future?

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