Surely we hit what might be described as the ‘peak performance zone’ when we are striving to achieve our goals. Goals, by their very nature, are things that we don't have at present – they are things that we are aiming for in the future. So why do so many personal development experts or ‘gurus’ place so much emphasis on the here and now? For example, the title of Ekhart Tolle’s book ‘The Power of Now’ says it all. What is the point of looking to the present moment if, at present, you find yourself in a place in your life that you want to get out of? Surely, if now doesn’t measure up to your ideas about how you want to live your life, you need to be focused on the future.

Of course, we need to have goals – we need to have some concrete idea of where we’re heading. But, as a client said to me recently, ‘I was so goal-oriented in my youth that I realized that I was living in a constant state of anticipation – I was never actually enjoying the moment or savouring where I was’. Where you are is here. When you are is now. Life can only be lived in the here and now. Sure, we might be striving towards future objectives, but those goals will only be achieved if we do our very best right here, right now.

Sadly, the normal mind is simply not up to the task. Our normal minds are constantly focused on the past – deeply engrossed in what psychologists call our ‘stored knowledge’ – the things that impressed us most about life and, more importantly, about our own self-image, during our formative years. Because our obsession with the past is constant and because it happens subconsciously, we are completely unaware of this constant backward focus. And yet it is this constant obsession that is the key player in our lives. It is our stored knowledge that determines how we feel about ourselves in any given situation. It is the resultant self-image that dictates we act or react – and it is our behaviour that determines how we relate to others, how we rise to life’s challenges or how, more normally, we simply muddle through each normal day. This self-‘knowledge’ runs our lives. This out-dated navel gazing saps the greater part of our mental energy and, as a consequence, our current behaviour becomes tainted, counter-productive and even self-sabotaging.

The key point to realize is that we, as normal people, can never do our best whilst looking backwards – yet looking backward is our default state of mind. And, even if we have fooled ourselves into believing that we are striving towards the achievement of future goals, the only place and time in which we can do our best is where we are now. And because we’re not present – mentally missing in action – we simply cannot do what it takes to achieve our objectives in life. The only place and time that we can do our best is here and now – and, as normal people, we haven’t even bothered to turn up!

That is why it is so important to focus your mind on now. That is why it is imperative that you learn to be present. We must stack the cards in our favour because, as things stand, our default mental settings have stacked the cards against us. If you don’t learn how to focus your mind in the present moment, your backward looking subconscious will always over-ride your best intentions, will always dictate your repetitive patterns of behaviour and will always ensure that you never move forward in life, in business, in self-awareness – you name it, if you don’t experience now you’ll be forever stuck in the past.

So, if you have some future goal in mind, it’s what you do now that will determine whether or not you will achieve it – even if you’re sitting eating your breakfast or drinking a cup of coffee. If you do such simple things mindlessly – without paying them due attention – you allow your subconscious mind to idle in default. You perpetuate your obsession with the past so that, as you go through your day, you’ll fail to notice the opportunities that arise that will take you towards your intended destination because you simply will not be able to see them.

What I’m saying is that learning to focus your mind on the moment, on the task in hand, whatever that might be; starts with the little, regular, normal, repetitive things that we do all the time. By starting small, we destroy our subconscious mind’s focus on the past and drag it (often kicking and screaming) into the present. The more little things that we do to disrupt our default focus on the past, the more powerful we become – the more we start hitting that peak performance zone – because we’re here, we’re present, we’re set up to do our very best.

We need to do all in our power to cultivate our ability to focus on what is real in this moment and what is opportune in this moment. Meditation offers a powerful methodology – because meditation disciplines the mind to only focus on and experience what is actually taking place now. But many people who meditate do it just to feel good rather than to put it to the powerfully practical use to which it lends itself. In cultivating our ability for presence, we are not seeking some guru-like other-worldly state of mind - there is no practicality in wandering around in a fog of peace and love! We are seeking to do the job in hand, to take on more responsibility for our lives and to do just what needs to be done, right here, right now – to the very best of our abnormal ability.

In the end, it is only when we come to fully experience the here and now will we come to realize that the life that we thought we were living was nothing more than a concoction of our warped, normal, backward-looking minds.

Author's Bio: 

Willie Horton has been enabling his clients live their dream since he launched is now acclaimed two-day Personal Development Seminars all the way back in 1996. His clients include top leaders in major corporations such as Pfizer, Deloitte, Nestle, Merrill Lynch, KPMG, G4S and Allergan together with everyone from the stay-at-home parent to sports-people. An Irish ex-banker and published author he now lives in the French Alps from where he travels the world as a much sought after motivational speaker and mentor. All his work, his weekly Free Personal Development Ezine videos and articles, together with his highly-acclaimed Personal Development Workshops are online at Gurdy.Net