On the habit of future-tripping


How many of us live with the exhausting habit of future-tripping? By that I mean the unhealthy mental habit of over-obsessing about the future, which is often at the expense of our present…

It’s so easy to become preoccupied with speculating, dreaming, strategising, and planning for the ‘conditions of happiness’ we want to have in our lives in the future…

… the house, the marriage, the career, the bank account size, the family, the ministry, the trip, the retirement… you can probably fill in lots of your own examples in the blanks here too.

And we can even fool ourselves into thinking that we’re being spiritual whilst we’re doing it; having a vision or believing for something in faith.

But the problem is that when we’re caught up in tripping into a future that we hope or long for, we can be at risk of missing the fullness of life that God has for us right now.

So I have decided that enough is enough…

I refuse to miss that little boy who’s growing up fast in front of me, by obsessing about a future sibling that he may or may not yet have.

In fact, I refuse to miss any of the blessings that have been given to me anymore, by always looking forwards to that ‘next thing’.

And I don’t know what your own ‘future-tripping’ thinking involves right now, but I can tell you where it often leads for me…

Feelings of frustration.

A sense of disappointment.

Followed by the slow realisation that maybe the future I have imagined myself living, is not actually the version of my future that God ever had in mind.

And besides, even if you do eventually achieve all of your conditions for happiness, chances are that they won’t satisfy in the ways that you had hoped.

The truth is that future-tripping is probably the world’s greatest con, because if you can’t be happy in your ‘now’; chances are that you won’t be happy ‘then’ either.

So why don’t we just let the author of life direct our lives instead?

In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself”

Yet how many of us do?

And as a result we can settle for living with a nagging sense of low-level discontent and stress by worrying about the future that we want, rather than giving our best in the present.

Of course, it’s fine to have a vision for our lives, I’m not suggesting that it isn’t. But there’s a subtle line between hoping and future tripping, and if we constantly allow our minds to run off into a future that may or may not be, chances are that we’ve already crossed it.

There’s this Bible verse I love in Hebrews 13:5, which says this:

“Be content with what you have. Because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

What an incredible reminder that contentment isn’t found in ‘more’ ahead of us, but rather in being at peace with what I already have.

And what I have is everything I need and much more, simply because I have God’s presence with me.

This coming year I really want a life that’s anchored in contentment and gratitude, not disappointment and dissatisfaction, so here’s a few of my ideas on how I plan to stretch those muscles a bit more:

  1. Practice gratitude with my present by intentionally focusing on my blessings not lack in both my thought life and in my prayer life
  2. Keep a thankfulness list in my journal
  3. Be generous in sharing what I already have with others, be it my home, my money, my things, my dinner table or my time
  4. Stay away from what makes me feel discontent, like wandering around shops on my lunch break or aimlessly scrolling through social media on my phone
  5. Practice some mindfulness techniques

And if you feel like you could benefit from a bit more focus on appreciating your present right now, why not join me in trying to practice these things and let me know how you get on.

And if you have any other suggestions or ideas to throw into the mix too, I’d love to here them as well…

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