It’s almost 2024, and as the calendar turns over, we tend to think about the year that was and what our dreams, goals (and worries) are for the New Year.
In all this reflecting and imagining, we often forget to fully embrace the present moment.
But what if we could shift our focus, and spend the majority of our time living in the present? After all, it’s the time we have the most control of.
The 80-10-10 Rule of Life
The 80-10-10 rule suggests we allocate 80% of our time and energy to the present, 10% to the past, and 10% to the future. By doing so it encourages us to prioritise the here and now while still acknowledging the significance of our past experiences and future aspirations. After all, from our past, we learn what works and what doesn’t. We gain experience and knowledge. While spending a little time with your future dreams gives you something to work towards. But our dreams and anxieties can be shaped or alleviated by what we do today.
If you run anxiety, ask yourself, how much time are you saying to yourself and others things like, “but what about” or “what if”? It’s likely more than 10%. If you can take steps to dial up the time spent in the present, you’ll likely create a future that’s more steeped in reality than the dreaded one you’ve been imagining for yourself.
The Power of now
To make the most of the present, we need to be fully engaged and mindful of our surroundings and actions. Here are some strategies to help us achieve this:
Practical Mindfulness: It’s a buzzword, but cultivating mindfulness allows you to bring your attention to the present moment without judgment. Through techniques such as meditation, you can enhance your awareness and fully immerse yourself in the here and now.
Savour Experiences: Take the time to savour and appreciate the small moments of joy and beauty that happen throughout the day. Whether it's enjoying a cup of coffee, taking a walk in nature, or having a heartfelt conversation with your favourite people, savouring these experiences can help you stay grounded in the present.
Turn thoughts into action: We’re all conquering the world in our minds, but it’s those who turn dreams into physical steps that become legends. For every Sam Kerr, there are a hundred talented MiniRoos who don’t go on to greatness. Raw talent doesn’t help you get out of bed on a cold day. On the flip side, imagining the worst-case outcome and avoiding any action right now only helps to reinforce those negative thoughts.
See how it’s both thoughts and physical? Both are equally important.
Reflecting on the Past
While it's important to embrace the present, we shouldn't completely disregard our past experiences. Reflecting on the past can offer valuable insights and help shape our present actions. Here are some strategies to effectively allocate 10% of our time to the past:
Journaling: Writing in a journal allows us to reflect on our past experiences, lessons learned, and personal growth. It provides an opportunity for self-reflection and can help us gain clarity and perspective. I recently heard someone say they write down all the good things that happen in the day and pop it in a jar, then read all the notes on New Years Eve.
Gratitude Practice: Take a few moments each day to express gratitude for past experiences, achievements, and people who have influenced our lives. Gratitude helps us acknowledge the positive aspects of our past while fostering a positive mindset in the present.
Don’t beat yourself up for past mistakes: What if you replaced “regret” with “learning experience”. How does that change the way you think about the ‘mistakes’ you’ve made? Without mistakes, how do you learn what works and what doesn’t? David Bowie’s debut album wasn’t great (no, not Space Oddity), but he didn’t give up. He changed his sound and found a sound that worked for him.
Planning for the Future
While living in the present is vital, setting goals and planning for the future is equally important. Here’s some suggestions on how to make the most of the 10% you dedicate to future-oriented thinking:
Goal Setting: Define your short-term and long-term goals. Break them down into actionable steps and create a plan to work towards them. Regularly review and adjust your goals as needed. It’s ok to have a vision, but it’s important to take into consideration what happening along the way and recalibrate as you need.
Visualisation and language: Use visualisation techniques to imagine yourself achieving your desired future outcomes. By visualising success, you can increase motivation and focus on taking steps towards your goals. And as you visualise, be more conscious of the language you use. Turn “I want to”, into “I’m doing step 1, 2, etc.”
Invest in Learning: Allocate time for personal development and learning new skills that align with your future aspirations. This investment in yourself will help unlock future opportunities and growth.
Remember, while the 80-10-10 rule provides a helpful framework, it's essential to remain flexible and adapt these percentages to suit your individual needs and circumstances. By consciously allocating more time to the present moment, reflecting on the past, and planning for the future, you can lead a more balanced approach to life. Embrace each moment as it comes, learn from the past, and work towards creating a brighter future.
It's also important to be good to yourself. Whatever your ratio is today, you’ve been doing it for a while. You can set yourself mini goals to get to where you need to be. It might be in a week or a month, but you’ll be able to look at what you achieved and the steps you took to get where you are.
Strategic Psychotherapy is very much about staying in the now and creating steps and goals that take you where you want to be. It’s not about rehashing the past ad-nauseam. The past is done and is written in stone. What helps shape the future is the steps you take today.
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