Don’t Be So Busy Planning That You Forget To Live

We can do both. We just need balance.

James E. McGinley, PhD


Man facing sunrise over ocean.
Photo by Tomas Anunziata on Pexels

It happens to all of us, we make a plan and then something or someone comes along and messes it up. We are disappointed, angry, and frustrated. But we can usually pick up the pieces and move on.

But not always.

Sometimes the setbacks we suffer are intense, long-lasting, and devastating. Research on the aftermath of natural disasters has found that certain conditions amplify the mental impact of a disaster. The emotional impact is worsened if the setback, disaster, or emergency was unexpected, involved threats to life or the loss of life, impacted people we care about, involved the loss of a job or important resources, or if we lacked social and emotional support when trying to respond and cope.

When bad things happen, our plans go out the window and we face stress, anxiety, and an uncertain future.

We can keep in mind this sobering thought.

The people who died this morning had plans for today. The people who will die tonight have plans for tomorrow.

We must remember that the future is not guaranteed. Personal disaster can happen in an instant. In the blink of an eye everything can change and our plans can be washed away.

So, what can we do?

The answer does not lie in abandoning our plans in anticipation of a tragedy or a loss that may never happen. I love planning and looking at the future. it is inspirational. It is especially valuable because it forces us to look deeply and honestly at ourselves. We cannot plan for the future if we do not know what we really want it to be. It follows naturally that if we do not envision and plan for the future that we want, it will likely never happen.

But we also cannot abandon the present for a future that may never happen. We cannot sacrifice today for tomorrow. We must live in the moment that today gives us. We must live fully. We must both work and play, being careful that we do not disregard one for the other. We must find the balance. We must be grateful for what we have, the tragedies we have avoided, and the opportunity to actively participate in our own lives.

The present and future are connected. Even as I enjoy this moment, I can enjoy the anticipation of what tomorrow will bring. When tomorrow comes, I can look back with satisfaction over my past experiences and decisions.

James McGinley, PhD is a professor, author, certified life coach, and licensed counselor.Books/Blog FacebookInstagramYouTube, The Coping Expert, Twitter

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James E. McGinley, PhD

James McGinley, PhD is a professor, author, certified life coach, and licensed counselor.