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I wrote recently about the value of using systems over goals. Today's topic is largely an extension of that idea.

The "present moment" is a term that's thrown around frequently in philosophy, yoga, meditation, and personal development. But while it's synonymous across these disciplines it also seems vague or impractical at first glance. It's like an ambiguous but generally acceptable concept that is difficult to verbalize in concrete terms when we pause to think about it beyond surface level.

But I want to offer a practical application of the present moment.

Goals, like I mentioned in the link above, inherently pull us into the future. Goals are the process of thinking about some specific moment or achievement in the future that is distinctly different from who you are now. I'm not here to preach against thinking about future goals, as I do it on a regular basis. The problem comes when that's where we spend the majority of our time - thinking and planning about some future state at the expense of living in the now.

Systems help change that. We can dip into the future by visualizing our ideal selves (what some may call "goals"), but systems are what pull us back to the present moment, because they're not about some future state; they're about the actions that are within our control right now.

We do our best work when we're present in the moment. Just read the numerous great books on the state of flow to see how much the present moment pulls us into our best selves. Distracted minds aren't creative or sharp. Present minds are.

Do you see the beautiful if not frustrating irony?

A present mind produces our best work which brings us to our ideal destination (read: goals) much quicker than spending our brainpower on dreaming about goals ever could.

The second, but equally valuable and practical, benefit of the present moment is that the more time we spend in it, the happier we are. I likely don't need to convince you that every nook and cranny of psychology and philosophy will point to the present moment as the path to a peaceful state. It has lingered near the core of eastern and western practices for all of time.

In short, focusing your energy and efforts on systems instead of goals leads not only to objectively better outcomes via better work, but also subjectively better outcomes like our own happiness and inner peace.

The present doesn't need to remain some ambiguous concept void of practical application. The present can be the path to your best self.

-Adam Griffin
Forward High Performance Coaching
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