I had a good conversation with a friend recently, and the topic of "grind culture" or excessive working came up, with regards to how often we continually push towards some future goal that ultimately continues to stay at an arms length. We work hard day in and day out, but encounter setbacks and hiccups that prevent us from ever reaching that end goal.
In talking about this, we came to a conclusion that most people likely run into those hiccups because they are so focused on the future that they fail to live in the present. And by failing to live in the present, they fail to take into account what happens there and how it applies to future endeavors.
Each day, we are faced with multiple small events and choices that ultimately have different outcomes. If we get hyper-focused on tomorrow before today is even done, and start making plans and setting expectations for what tomorrow looks like, we run the risk of having failed expectations or unmet goals. This can happen in training, and it can happen in life. If we don't live in the present, we fail to grasp how it plays a role in our future.
Now, is this to say that we shouldn't make plans for the future? Absolutely not. When we look at improving tomorrow or the day after that, we need to understand that we should be planning macro-events and not micro-events. A macro-event such as buying a house, starting a family, purchasing a new car, or even down to competing in a weightlifting/powerlifting meet (for you young readers who can't fathom the other life examples yet), is something that we can set goals or plans for that are fluid and will often not be planned down to the "T". Micro-events are the things that happen on the daily, such as having to fill your car with gas, going to the store, and or getting in an argument with a significant other. These events often have little to no bearing on macro-events, unless we let them compound.
When micro-events compound, they start to have larger influences that can accumulate to make impact our planned macro-events. The way that micro-events begin to compound is often by our failure to live in the present, and be aware of what is happening in the moment. Here's an example (which may be extreme, but it serves the point):
You go to the store to get groceries for the coming week, but because you're tied up in planning something a few weeks later, you don't make a list or are simply not paying full attention in the store. You forget an essential ingredient when at the store, but don't realize you it until you get home. On the way back to the store to get your essential item, someone texting while driving rear-ends your car, totaling it. So now do you not only have your essential ingredient, but you also don't have transportation, and so you have to fork out more money for an Uber or rental car to get around. It doesn't seem like much at first, but after paying several hundred more dollars than normally in your budget, you fail to make your credit card payment and your credit score drops. Months later, when you're trying to start the process of buying a house, that credit score prevents you from getting a good interest rate on the your mortgage. (Again, extreme example, but you can see how events compound)
If we live in the present, we can avoid missing tiny things. We don't allow the opportunity for things to compound. We avoid missteps. Now, not every misstep will lead to something drastic, but if enough micro-events happen, things can become more difficult and delay our long term plans.