Do you ever find yourself stuck between the balance of enjoying whatever it is you’re doing in the moment, and being lost in hopes or fears about the future? This game seems to play out constantly in my own mind. When I’m not enjoying the moment, the wonders of life tend to pass me by unappreciated. But if I live without structure and planning, little gets accomplished. Establishing a few good habits and meaningful routines tends to enhance my ability to focus on being present, but it can be a challenge to strike the right balance.
After spending the last 6 months traveling from country to country without any kind of long-term home base, it feels so good to be somewhere we can stay for at least a year. And I can’t imagine a place I’d rather settle long-term than Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, with its delicious cuisine, low prices, rich culture, happy people, beautiful landscapes, and perfect climate.
I feel like I’m done with travel for a while, and am ready to focus more time on personal growth, creativity, learning, giving, relationships, health, and simply enjoying every moment of being alive. The trouble is, because we weren’t able to get an Indonesian visa in Japan (we discovered after we arrived that they only issue them to Japanese residents), we have to take a few extra trips this year. And as fun as I’m sure it will be to visit Malaysian Borneo, Vietnam, and Thailand over the next four months, in honesty, I wish I could just stay home.
In the past, I’ve been really excited about our travels, but planning for it is extremely time consuming and I often spend way too much time researching places to stay and things to do. But I don’t feel motivated to do that now at all. Short of booking the first night or two in a hotel, and having a list of recommended activities from friends, I feel more inclined to just show up and wing it once I get there. I justify this by remembering that part of the adventure of visiting new places is not knowing what to expect. And often, the most rewarding travel experiences are not found in brochures or at famous landmarks, but in the unexpected moments that make up the journey.
So as I consider our upcoming travel plans, I want to resist the tendency to think about them too much, and instead focus on enjoying these weeks at home to pursue things that are more important to me in this moment. When it’s time to travel, then I’ll focus on enjoying that. So, to help me focus more on my goals and enjoy the time I have, I’ve established a few priorities, most of which have become routines. Otherwise, I might end up spending all day on the computer.
- Stretching and tai chi every morning. Lately I’ve been adding in a bit more qigong and meditation as well. This helps wake up my body and also relaxes me at the start of the day, keeping my mind more at peace through whatever comes up.
- Creating music and recording it. Normally, I’ll sit down to play the piano, and amidst some strange sounds I’ll have a few really nice segments. But I immediately forget what I played, losing it forever. So I’ve made it a habit to hit the record button on my piano whenever I sit down to play. That way, I have a record of it and can copy it to the computer in a midi file and use the good parts. I’ve been recording my playing every day this week and it’s been a lot of fun. I hope to take some of these ideas and create some music I’ll be proud to share.
- Family badminton. The weather here has been so perfect lately, and we’ve enjoyed taking time each day to play badminton together in the yard. It’s a great physical activity. Sometimes we’ll go swimming together, too.
- Couple time. With two homeschooled kids and a 1 year old, if Jen and I don’t schedule time together, we often don’t get it. But we really enjoy the time we take to talk and read and cuddle together in the afternoons, and our relationship is continuing to blossom in beautiful ways.
- Work and Email. My mind is still full of ideas for improving my businesses and they’re continuing to grow in exciting ways. I’ve also enjoyed helping the consulting clients who’ve contacted me. It’s been surprisingly fulfilling work.
- Reading. I love to expand my mind with interesting books, and I have a long list I’m working on. Sometimes I struggle to get away by myself to read for more than a few minutes, but I always enjoy it when I do.
- Writing. I take time every day to write down my thoughts and process the things I’m learning and experiencing. This has been immensely helpful. If this is a habit you’re interested in, check out 750words.com for a good motivator.
- Friends. We’ve spent a lot of time with friends since we got to Bali. We’re very excited that our good friends, The Kings, who we met in Costa Rica, have moved here and are renting a house not far from ours. We’ve also met several traveling families for lunch, and have hosted some parties and dinners at our house. With how many wonderful people there are to meet and enjoy, I have to make sure I balance this with the time I need to recuperate from social encounters and fulfill these other needs.
While I think even the most mundane and tedious tasks can be performed with mindfulness and appreciation, I know where I want to place my energies and how I want to spend my time. I also want to make sure that when I’m doing what I love, I’m enjoying it as much as I possibly can.
What ways have you found helpful for being mindful of what you’re doing, while still balancing the necessary planning for the future? Or do you enjoy planning so much that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing in the moment? Or do you feel like planning takes care of itself if you just focus on living in the moment? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.