The biggest thing holding you back — and what to do about it

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Living each day while pining for things you think you want, but certainly don’t need, is the biggest force that holds you back. And here’s the best part:

You — and you alone — have the control to stop and prevent this.

One of the most empowering realities in this world is that we permit or prevent the thoughts that enter our minds. When we’re of stable mind, we have control mentally over our destiny.

We allow thoughts to blossom or wilt.

Part of having faith and living a confident lifestyle is adopting the mental state of “living by necessity.” Simply put — there are things that we need and things that we want. There’s nothing wrong with wanting anything. Heck, this is imagination at its finest!

We should want a life lived on our terms. We should want to surround ourselves with people who bring out the best in us. All good things.

But we should never obsessively want and wish for things that we don’t need. I know this all too well — I’ve found this pattern in my life through both the places I’ve lived, and also the jobs I’ve held. My natural disposition is toward a futuristic mindset. I’m a planner and a dreamer who is mentally looking to fulfill future plans too far in advance.

In other words — mentally, my mind can race and I lack patience. I can miss my family, old friends and the comforts of my hometown. I can get lost in the perks of what I believe my future career to be. But I have all I need right now.

Maybe you know the same feeling.

As you look at your life, no matter where you live or where you are in your professional journey, you do have what you need. What you need is how you live each day with maximum focus, energy and hope. The biggest thing holding you back is living too much in the past — or maybe even worse yet, too far in the future that you forget the present moment.

Do you know what you want? What does your ideal day, week and life look like?

I know what I want. I want to help change people’s lives through my writing, coaching and public speaking. I’m doing those things right now. I have thousands of people that reach out to me every week and this helps me reaffirm that what I’m doing is right. Sometimes, it’s easy to wonder if I’m on the right track.

How are the day’s results? How are my emotions?

Maybe you’re right there on the journey with me. Living your best life, but sometimes struggling with “what if’s” and occasional regret. You’re working on yourself each day, implementing a strategy, routine and plan. Once you have everything in flow, you’ll have found the missing puzzle piece that connects everything together and brings complete stability to your existence.

Maybe.

Because tomorrow is never promised today. Setting goals, drafting plans and actively working toward your those goals is vitally important. But in the process, we must not lose sight of our current situation. We’re in the midst of where we are for a reason. There’s no such thing as “preordained wasted time.”

We’re not meant to waste time when we know what we want for both today and our futures. We need to make the most of the time in front of us — the present moment — and never squander opportunities! Our trouble is not so much the inability or desire to act, as it is the impulse and recognition of what opportunity truly is. Opportunity is all around us. It’s not off in some distant future.

Your Opportunities Are Always In Front of You

The trials and stages of life that we think we can auto-pilot or put on cruise-control are often remarkable, seminal periods of growth. If you take nothing else away from this article, please, recognize that opportunities are always right there, front and center in life. They’re right there if you allow yourself to live and immerse yourself in the present moment.

Sometimes the opportunities are obvious. Sometimes they’re less obvious. And sometimes they’re concealed. They’re in disguise. Or they appear to be something different.

When this happens, we often carry the weight of what we think we want, when what we have right in front of us. The life we want with our boyfriend, girlfriend, family, job, idea, spiritual journey or personal development project is truly all that matters in that moment. We have to learn to put the past behind us and to stop regretting a life that isn’t actually ours.

The past is prologue. What’s already happened is helping you build for what you truly want. You shouldn’t drain yourself over wishing for something that isn’t part of your life’s journey, even though you once wondered whether it would be. You have to move forward and focus on the present. The future can wait.

Your grand designs for becoming a business owner are still going to be there for you. You’re not missing out today. You’re only missing out today if you punt your opportunity for thinking that the future is the be-all and end-all.

Right now is all that truly matters when it comes to opportunities and living. When you live in yesterday and tomorrow, you are hurting yourself. You’re stunting your growth. Ask yourself — where has that ever gotten you?

Plan your future. Develop your definition of success. Start writing out goals and constructing an objective that really matters to you. Align your dreams, creative thoughts and deepest personal ambitions, and loves, to a plan that is measurable and achievable. But outside of that time, while you should always keep an eye on the future, you have to master your present through thoughtful, inspired action.

You truly do have everything you need in the present. That’s not to say that you have everything you need for a particular goal, career ambition or to even land the man of your dreams. But you have everything you need to live in the moment with clarity, joy and love in your heart. You have what you need to continue building for the big things that you really want.

Past, Present and Future

Patience is preached and esteemed in its virtue for a reason — because so many successful and happy people realize that all of their dreams don’t just come true in an instant. Or six months. Or one year or even five or 10 years. Sometimes they do, but surely you’ve realized that it usually doesn’t work that way. Like a tree, the seeds of your personal growth need to be nurtured and allowed time to take root.

I’m not quite the professional I want to be yet. And, maybe you’re not either. There’s a confidence and assurance in that. There’s a need to embrace this state of mind. The happiest people embrace their current situation, in good times and bad, because they know that maintaining a positive attitude and equilibrium will benefits them in the long run.

It’s the long game that matters. On this marathon journey of life — it’s not a sprint! — you’re better equipped to peacefully and joyfully embrace the job you have now. The life you have in your one-bedroom efficiency with the slightly cracked window. Your long train commute to the job that you think you hate, but only because it’s not exactly what you want.

Because all of these things are stops along the way on the real ride toward the life you want most. They’re lessons, signposts meant to be observed and not dismissed. They’re all helping you grow and make sense of the person you are and who you want to be. All the things you don’t have right now are not needs. They’re (maybe) only wants.

You have today. And that’s all that matters.

This article first appeared on Medium. Join my newsletter for emotional intelligence and productivity content! Get a FREE Coaching Call to Explore Your Emotional Intelligence, and Learn how to Achieve Your Biggest Goals! Check out my Amazon bestseller, The Value of You, which has helped tens of thousands of people develop the game plan for living their best life!