One Moment at a Time
Part 2 of a Series: "When Nothing You Can Do Makes a Difference"
3 to 4 minute read
In Part 1 of this Series we talked about how making a difference to any sized challenge in our lives requires that we start with ourselves, at the very center of what gives rise to our ways of being in the world.
Here in Part 2 we’ll consider a way of looking at even the big challenges that breaks them down to a manageable size.
A lifetime is made up of moments
We can learn from the past, but we cannot change it. We can prepare for the future and influence it, but we cannot control it. Life is informed, somewhat, by past and future, but it’s lived now.What’s important is your actions and your state of being in this moment, because this moment is all you have. 1
Just as you cannot control anybody outside yourself, you also cannot act on anything outside the present moment.
This is the second piece of good news (the first was in Part 1), because it means that all that’s necessary for you to begin to live with more intention is to claim this one moment, right now, as your own.
You only have to live, choose, decide, be, in this one moment.
And if you make a mistake, its ok, because in the next moment you get to choose again.
Only this moment; only myself
At first glance knowing we can only live and act in the present moment, that we have no power over the past and limited capacity to influence the future, seems discouraging.Knowing that the only thing we can change is our own story, our own way of being in the world, and that we have no control over people and events out there, seems discouraging.2
But here’s another way of looking at it: these two realizations give you LOTS of opportunities to live more fully in your own personal power and in the power of the present moment – and to dedicate that power to what’s important to you.
Overnight success is a myth
Our culture glorifies “overnight success” stories, but the truth is that overnight success is a myth. It is always preceded by long hours, and sometimes long years, of placing one foot in front of the other, while the peak of the mountain you are climbing never seems to get any nearer.
“Success” will be defined differently by you than it is by me but regardless of how you define it, it is constructed out of small, un-glamorous commitments to the single most important thing right now, in this moment – and then the next, and then the next.
One day you’ll look around you and realize you’re halfway up the mountain, that no moment you’ve lived through was beyond you, and that each moment you’ve lived through has strengthened you for the next.
The moment you have been given
I like to think of a “moment” as the point between past and future. Now.
To give you another way of looking at it, a former mentor of mine used to say that there are four moments in a second. That would be 240 moments in a minute. Minutes make up hours, and there are approximately 8760 of those in a year.
That’s a LOT of moments. A lot of opportunities.
You don’t have to claim them all; just making better use of more of them than you currently do will be enough to initiate meaningful changes over time. As James Clear says, 1 percent better every day adds up to a lot of improvement by the end of one year.
You cannot handle the next 8760 hours—the next year—from here. No-one can. But you can handle this moment.
How do I know? Because this is the moment you have been given.
Coming up next
So much for the philosophical stuff. How do you actually apply it?
In this article I’ve said that success is built by focusing on the single most important thing in this moment. How do you know what the most important thing is, in any given moment?
In the next few parts of this Series we’ll talk about some ways to define what that single most important thing is, for you. Specifically, in Part 3 we’ll take a look at 3 categories that everything in your life can be fitted into:
- some things you can control,
- some you can influence,
- and some – although they may deeply concern you—you have no control or influence over at all.
By determining which category an issue in your life belongs to, you can learn to focus your energy where it counts – on what is both important AND within reasonable reach.
That’s coming up in Part 3, but in the meantime, please share your comments immediately below the footnotes.
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is an excellent resource to help you make the most of this moment.
- It’s true that you can sometimes change someone who is weaker than you are by the use of force in some form. But it’s largely the use of force, and the accompanying mindset, that’s gotten us into the mess we’re in. To successfully inhabit a different story, we’re going to have to let go of using force to try to change things.
I often ask myself the following: “Is what you are doing now helping you achieve your goals in life?”
Too often we spend our time being “busy” rather than productive/meaningful.
Thanks for your comment, Terry. I sometimes do the same — I ask, “Will my future self be glad I was doing what I’m doing right now?” We’ll get into “busy/urgent” vs “meaningful/important” activities in Part 4 of this Series.
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[…] Getting to your goals requires consistent habits that build toward the goal over time, moment by moment (remember that, from Part 2?). […]
Knowing what is the most important thing to focus on in any given moment is probably a big key to any kind of success (however you define “success”).
Something that has worked for me to some extent is to ask,
“Will my future self be glad I was doing what I’m doing right now? Or will hindsight reveal something I might wish I had been doing instead?”
Do you have strategies for bringing yourself back on track when you find yourself questioning if you are using your moments as wisely as you could?