Summary: Success from taking action can be achieved through a present-oriented state of mind.
Intro: This is my own original concept, so don’t take everything written here as 100% truth. Absorb my theory and adapt it to your own world view. There’s a goldmine of knowledge in this post and I’m certain you’ll find it useful.
So there I was, smoking a joint in my cousin’s car as we usually do before long drives. We talked about back when we lived together, and how crazy it is to see the next generations growing up. All that reminiscing made me realize just how much mental thought could be wasted on thinking about the past.
I began contemplating just how much mental energy can be saved by a proper focus of ones mind. I took this concept and meditated on it. I believe there are seven extreme mental focus points of origin, half of which lead to failure. Read on as I break this down.
Imagine a graph with two upper quadrants. The x-axis represents the time orientation of ones mental focus. The y-axis represents ones degree of action in their life. There are 6 points of extremity to this graph. Now stop imagining because I went ahead and made it for you.
Let’s discuss each point.
1A – Past-Oriented Action
This is action from fear of the past. These people are motivated by their discomfort of their past life situation. While a degree of success can be achieved with this mindset, their thoughts default focus is always the past, keeping them from achieving maximum productivity.
1B – Past-Oriented Complacency
Here we have complacency from fear of the past. These people dwell on their past failures. Their minds are consumed by repetitive negative thoughts and they will never take action because they rationalize excuses related to memorable past events. This mindset leads to extreme complacency.
2A – Present-Oriented Action
The optimal mindset. These people are motivated by self fulfillment from taking steps towards improving their current life situation. They don’t dwell on past failures or future successes. Their main focus is always what they are currently doing. They think of the future in terms of time, and they refer to the past only when remembering a lesson learned. This mindset produces extreme productivity, but it’s tough to achieve. More will be discussed on this later.
2B – Present-Oriented Complacency
When someone is content with their current situation, and have zero intention of improving it, they get complacent. They remain present to the moment, but aren’t productive with their time. Interestingly, a degree of action must already be in place to achieve this mindset, which is why it ranks near the middle on the y-axis. These people may be successful, or they may be failures, but they are almost always happy. Depending on ones desire to improve their life situation, the level of action can vary from extreme complacency (monks who devote their life to Buddhism) to minor action.
3A – Future-Oriented Action
Those who are motivated by a desire for a better future fall into this category. Their thoughts revolve around their future successes. Their current life situation doesn’t have to be bad nor good, and their level of action is determined by when their achievements are ‘enough’. With this mindset one can be extremely successful. However, their thoughts of success may consume them. While they may not be extremely complacent, they won’t always take action. Only thinking of the end goal and not focusing on what needs to be done now will lead them to failure.
3B – Future-Oriented Complacency
Our last category happens when someone is scared of failure. This fear leads to a lack of action. Similar to point ‘1B’, this mindset will lead to extreme complacency, but for different reasons. While the past-oriented person doesn’t act due to repetitive thoughts of past failures, this person doesn’t act due to anxiety and fear of failing the current situation. They don’t need past failures to rationalize their complacency.
How to apply this knowledge.
What you want to achieve is a present-oriented mindset with a strong desire to improve your current life situation. Most of you already have this desire or you wouldn’t be reading this. I believe that everyone’s mental focus fluctuates all over the graph throughout their day, but they always default to one particular mindset. Here’s how you can set your default state of mind to a present-orientation while being extremely productive:
- Practice meditation – there’s no skipping this step. Mindful meditation trains you to be aware of your thoughts and feelings, see the bottom of this post for more information.
- Refer to the past for relevant knowledge – if you find yourself thinking of a past situation that’s not related to what you’re currently doing, stop immediately.
- Set goals – set big picture goals for what you want to achieve.
- Manage your time – Your time is valuable so create a daily schedule of what needs to be done.
- Think of the future only in terms of time and goals – for example, “I’m going to work out at 5:00”. If you find yourself daydreaming about future successes, stop immediately and focus on what you need to do right now.
– Don’t think about the past
– Don’t think about the future
– Set your goals
– Focus on what needs to be done now
– Find satisfaction in taking the right steps