Have you ever been so excited or concerned about something in the future that you miss what’s happening for you here in the present? Or have you been so focused on the past that you aren’t engaging in the present?
Though planning for the future and reflecting on the lessons of the past can both be helpful, the only time we have is now when it comes to taking action.
If we want to be happier, healthier humans, we have the vast and fleeting opportunity of the present to work toward our goals and enact the changes we wish to see.
The context of the past and our aspirations for the future can guide us as we move forward in a specific direction.
Nothing, however, is guaranteed, and we can only move through the moment we are in right now.
Perhaps that’s why we, as humans, sometimes struggle to implement changes that benefit our future selves when the cost to us is high in the present.
Who wouldn’t rather choose the option that provides instant gratification, at least every so often?
We’ve all been there. Maybe we make a choice in the moment to watch a whole season of NCIS instead of cleaning the house, or perhaps we go for a run instead of doing laundry or cooking… (Is it just me that skips the housework in favor of a run?)
And yet, improving your fitness level by building strength and endurance is a long-term effort, gradually changing as you work toward your fitness goals.
If you focus on the small steps you can take right now, the progress you can make over a week, month, or year is significant.
What will you do today for your health?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Go for a short walk or run
- Stretch for five minutes
- Go up and down stairs for one minute
- Plank for 30 seconds
- Go to sleep 15 minutes earlier tonight
- Drink a glass of water
- Eat a snack of fresh vegetables
- Block time on your calendar for this week’s exercise
- Schedule an exercise date with a friend
- Meditate for two minutes
What else would you add to your list?
Whatever you decide to do for your health, you are choosing to take care of yourself in the moment for the betterment of your future self.
This is easier when selecting actions that are fun to do or that directly correlate to a defined future result. Choosing to take care of yourself in the now can be harder when selecting challenging activities or actions that are loosely connected to an outcome.
Of course, health encompasses more than just our physical health, and our lives can be complicated by responsibilities and obligations set in place long before we’ve reached this moment.
You might decide that you will feel better about your day if you skip a planned workout in order to complete a project or finish the book you’ve been reading. You might need to assist a child, parent, or neighbor with a time-sensitive task. Or you might get sick and not have a good choice about what you’d like to do because you are forced to rest or risk feeling worse.
Trusting that exercising regularly is important to you and that you want to be the happiest, healthiest version of yourself, taking action on a regular basis is key. Though you may need to adjust your plans from time to time, being in the habit of taking action — whether you have five minutes or two hours — will allow you to benefit from the compound effect of your actions over time.
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