I want to tell you about two special ladies in my life:
My wife’s grandma and my own grandma—aka “Gram”.
These two women couldn’t be more opposite, but they both have taught me so much about how to make the most of my time here on this planet.
From one, I’ve learned a lot about being present and soaking in each and every moment.
From the other, I learned the value of having a vision, or something you’re looking forward to.
On the surface, the two concepts seem to contradict each other.
How can you be in the moment yet also be looking to the future?
Stay with me for a while and I’ll fill you in on how being present can dance in step with your vision of the future. But first, let me introduce you to the women who showed me the way by how they lived their lives.
Let’s start with my Gram. She left us last year, and although she’s no longer with us, her memory lives on.
Man, was she a character. She was traditional in the sense that she loved spoiling her grandkids, but her firecracker attitude made her more unique than any grandmother I’ve ever met.
She literally called my little brother a ‘chicken shit’ once because he didn’t want to take a shot of whiskey with her. It’s odd, but it’s one of my favorite memories of her. It was Christmas Eve, and the juxtaposition of her playing Santa Claus all night for her (grown) grandchildren and then taking shots of whiskey is too funny not to hold space in my head and heart.
In the twilight of her life, her health wasn’t the greatest. She had smoked for years and it was finally catching up to her. She needed a tank with her at all times to get the hit of oxygen that she needed to keep her lungs happy.
As her health diminished, she knew she didn’t have a ton of years left. But one thing that she held onto was the next big event that she needed to stick around for. She always made sure that there was something from the future pulling her forward; something that knew she didn’t want to miss.
For a while it was my brother’s dance recitals. She loved going to watch my brother show off his skills and see how he was now teaching others what he had learned over the years.
Then in 2015, my sister and I both decided to get married, so she made sure she kept going so she could see her grandkids get hitched. She made it to see my sister’s big day in July and then mine in October.
In 2016, her health was up and down, and we weren’t sure how much longer we would have her with us. Then she got the news that my sister and brother-in-law were expecting their first kid. As stubborn as my grandma was, there was NO WAY she was going to miss the birth of her first great-grandchild. So, she hung on to see my little nephew make his way into the world.
With every major event that passed, my grandma found a new reason to be here by clinging onto the next big thing coming. Her vision of the future made it important to her to literally fight for her life.
This lesson that she left me with will keep me laser focused on my big goals and big dreams of my future, even if she’s not here to see me accomplish them. Working hard on the day-to-day is important, but having a vision of why you’re still busting your ass will continue to pull you forward, even when you feel like giving up.
So, thank you Gram. You were a wisecracking old lady, but wise just the same.
Having a vision? Check.
Being present in the moments that get you there? For that lesson, let’s turn to my wife’s grandma.
She’s still with us, going strong and turning 96 this March. Although her physical health is amazing for her age, the early stages of Alzheimer’s has taken her memory. She still knows who we all are for the most part, but she wouldn’t be able to tell you about what happened yesterday.
Everytime my pregnant wife strolls through her door, she exclaims, “You’re pregnant?!” To which my wife smiles and says, “Yeah grandma, going on 8 months over here.”
With her memory leaving town, you’d think that she might have a sour attitude about it. I mean, how would you feel if most of your life’s memories got swiped from your brain?
But she is one of the jolliest people I know.
Everytime we see her, she’s smiling and goofing around. Once she gets caught back up on what her memory doesn’t allow her to remember, she just enjoys each moment she has with her family.
The silver lining of this disease that has taken her mind is that she has no other option than to be present with what’s right in front of her. She’s not stuck on what she forgot to do yesterday or what’s to come the day after. She is all in on the moments that she is currently experiencing.
She may have no choice in the matter, but you and I absolutely do. We can choose to put down our phones or let go of the anxiety that we’ve created from our mounting to-do list. And by seeing my wife’s grandma enjoy what moments she has, it’s obvious that the choice to be present should be an easy one.
“Very touching, Nick. But again, how can we be present while also being inspired by a future that’s off in the distance?”
It’s not difficult to pair the two together. All it will take is being a little more intentional with your time.
In order to keep your dreams top of mind, carve out some time in the morning or at night (or both) when you can check in on how you’re progressing. This isn’t an exercise in making to-do list after to-do list. It’s just a matter of looking at where you currently are and then projecting where your next steps lie. Doing this daily will keep that inspiring future fresh in your brain, making it so you don’t have to constantly worry about where you’re going or what you’re doing.
Once you’ve instilled the practice of reflection in the morning or at night, you will allow yourself to become present more naturally as you go about your day. Rather than sweating the small details of what you should be doing, you can sit with each moment, knowing that your plans are well in order due to your daily routine of checking in.
Thanks to these two women, I’ve been able to see the value in holding space for each moment and holding tightly to a future that pulls you forward.
With that said, these two things don’t have to–and shouldn’t be–mutually exclusive. They should dance together as partners, one helping the other become more impactful.
Dedicate your mornings or nights to thinking big picture.
Dedicate the moments in between to painting that picture and being present in the process.
Build your beautiful life one moment at a time, my friends.
See you next week,
P.S. Grab my free tool that I use weekly to create my amazing future. I want yours to be just as bright 🙂