I spent most of my prime working life trying to achieve some notion of success. To that end, I studied time management techniques, life goals evaluations, productivity hacks, and a variety of self-help techniques designed to propel me toward that mythical Nirvana of real-world achievement and complete fulfillment. I developed vision boards and spent hours visualizing the perfect life. I did everything they told me would bring ultimate happiness. It made me productive, but it didn’t make me happy.
An old parable says that a fool may have the intelligence to build a ladder to scale a wall, but a wise man will stop to ponder whether or not the wall is worth climbing. I was that fool, and my Sisyphean task in the real world generated a lot of heat but little light. I scaled the wall, but I hadn’t stopped to ponder whether or not the things I was chasing would bring me the satisfaction I desired.
I’ve had many occasions to rebuild my life’s dreams. Whenever a significant life change happened, my mind spent great effort reformulating my vision of where I wanted to be. I just went through one of these changes, but this time, rather than rebuilding the dream, I’m just living moment-to-moment and practicing Dharma. I feel no compulsion to recreate fantastical visions of my future.
As I’ve progressed in my Buddhist practice, I’ve noticed my mind spends far less time wondering about future events. I don’t have the worries about imagined catastrophes, nor do I generate the fantasies about great fortune. I don’t look to vision boards to guide my actions. My life is simple. Present-centered. Easy.
The mind that used to grasp at future outcomes doesn’t arise as often. Once I deeply accepted that no matter what happens that I can accept it, then there are no future outcomes I need to work to avoid. That doesn’t mean I don’t take care of myself, but without attachment or aversion to any outcome, I can move forward in life with complete inner freedom and an absence of worry.
That works for me.