The Choice Between Enjoying Now and Preparing for Tomorrow

Posted by Fitz Villafuerte under Life Lessons, Personal Finance on November 4, 2014

It’s 5:00 AM and my alarm clock rings — a reminder to get up and do my morning run. I wake up, turned off the alarm, and decided to go back to sleep.

“I’ll just run in the afternoon,” I told myself.

It’s 4:00 PM and a prompt on my phone says it’s time to run. I dismissed the note, and continued reading the book I’ve been engrossed with the whole afternoon.

“I’ll just run tomorrow,” I decided.

Later that night, as I go to bed, I start to feel regret for skipping running that day. I set my alarm to 5:00 AM and go to sleep.

alarm-clock

Life’s Biggest Regret

Each day, each moment, is a choice for us – a choice between enjoying now and preparing for tomorrow.

Between sleeping in our comfortable bed, and exercising for good health. Between going to a party with friends, and staying home to make a business plan. Or between shopping and dining out, and saving the money for retirement.

When faced with such decisions, I believe there is no better choice and the right one depends on you because after all, it is your life.

However, Bronnie Ware wrote in her book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing” an insightful fact. She claims that the most common regret that people have on their deathbed is that of not being able to live a life that’s true to oneself.

When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled.

Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

choice

Make Good Choices

So what does this mean to us?

Simply, it is to consciously make good choices. Particularly ones that will move us closer towards fulfilling our biggest dreams.

Is it your dream to live long, stay strong, and play with your grandchildren? Then make the choice towards a healthy lifestyle today.

Is it your dream to someday start a business and be your own boss? Then make the effort to learn how to become an entrepreneur now.

Is it your dream to see and travel the world when you retire? Then start creating the plan that will make that happen in the future.

With that said, it looks like preparing for tomorrow is the better choice, right? No, or more accurately – not necessarily, and as I’ve said, there is no better choice.

Because the truth of the matter is, you don’t have to choose… and you can have both.

You can enjoy your life now AND prepare for a good tomorrow – at the same time. It is possible and it all starts by doing mindful decisions today.

mona-lisa

The Vision of Happiness

Look at the Mona Lisa, one of the most celebrated paintings in the world.

Leonardo da Vinci created this masterpiece not by making perfect brush strokes each time on the canvas. But by making sure the sum of his labor turns his vision of the Mona Lisa into a reality in the end.

The key is to look at the bigger picture. That is to realize that your life’s canvas is made up of hundreds of thousands of decisions that you make throughout your lifetime.

So it’s okay to enjoy your life today, as long as you don’t lose your vision of how you want your future to be.

Financially speaking, while it’s true that delaying gratification is a big part of becoming rich, it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your present-day happiness.

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But it does require you to realize that happiness ultimately comes from experiencing life, and not from simply being able to afford things and buying stuff.

The fancy meal on your plate is not your source of happiness. Actually, it is the dining experience you shared with your spouse that made it worth the money.

The expensive smartphone is not your source of happiness. The truth is that it is the connections you forge and the memories you create that give it value.

And no, that designer bag is not really your source of happiness. However, it is being able to express your sense of fashion that actually lifts your mood and self-esteem.

Thus, given these real sources of fulfillment, we can then say that it is possible to enjoy life without spending on things that you cannot afford (yet).

Having a home-cooked meal with your spouse, playing board games with your friends in your house, and getting creative with your present wardrobe collection can actually bring as much joy in your life today.

past-future

The Past, Present and Future

If your future depends on the choices you make today, then it follows that your present is a consequence of what you’ve done in the past.

Take the simple act of surfing the internet. This wouldn’t be possible for you if you didn’t took the time to learn how to use a web browser in the past.

Or consider going out to a party with friends. This is an experience you wouldn’t be able to do today if you did not make the effort to build those friendships in the first place.

These things didn’t just happen instantly. It required your time and more importantly, a conscious decision from yesterday that made it a reality.

By being mindful of your choices today, you ensure that when the future becomes your present, you will have the opportunities to enjoy living your dreams.

Moreover, enjoying your “now” usually stems from the fear of missing out. However, it’s no reason to make bad decisions that will affect your future.

Fundamentally, you should turn that fear into a realization on how important it is to make better choices today. So that ultimately, you don’t have to face the same dilemma in the future.

In the end, it’s all about knowing the consequences of each decision you make; while still giving value to the bigger picture, and then essentially making your choices today without regret.

bigger-picture

The Bigger Picture

It’s 5:00 AM and my alarm clock rings — a reminder to get up and do my morning run. I wake up, turned off the alarm, and decided to go back to sleep.

“I’ll just run in the afternoon,” I told myself.

For lunch, I decided to meet a friend. I went to his office and chose to take the five flight of stairs instead of the elevator. I thought about the bigger picture of a healthier me with each step I take.

It’s 4:00 PM and a prompt on my phone says it’s time to run. I dismissed the note, and continued reading the book I’ve been engrossed with the whole afternoon.

“I’ll just run tomorrow,” I decided.

At dinner, I skipped on the fried chicken that I planned to prepare, and chose to steam some vegetables and fish instead.

Later that night, as I go to bed, I start to feel regret for not running that day. But then I told myself, “It’s okay. I enjoyed sleeping those extra hours, and spending the whole afternoon reading.”

Then I thought about the bigger picture… and how I consciously made the decision to take the stairs and eat a healthier dinner to make up for not running.

Today was not a perfect brush stroke. But I have not, and should never lose sight of my vision to live a healthier life. I set my alarm to 5:00 AM and go to sleep.

Tomorrow, I’ve mindfully decided to run and eat fried chicken, and I know I will enjoy it.

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Photo credits: eflon, simongreening, jgomez, michaelharold and bigmikeyeah


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17 Responses to “The Choice Between Enjoying Now and Preparing for Tomorrow”


  1. Reyna Elena says:

    Wow powerful message and inspiring! This is my favorite post so far! Love it! Relate much 🙂

  2. RA says:

    This is really an eye-opener article. It makes me realize how important it is to be mindful of the decisions we make. In the past, I considered myself as a “happy-go-lucky” girl and I used to procrastinate a lot, not really thinking about the consequences of each decision. But now, I learned that for every procrastination I do, there are not-so-good results I have to accept. Thanks for an interesting read sir Fitz!

  3. Every result in life has an cause. The key is to recognize how the decisions we are making now are pointing us to the results that we want.

    Very well written and insightful article. I’m motivated to stay up a bit later tonight to work on my own business plans. Thanks for sharing this great thought!

  4. Bill Asignar says:

    Interesting, I could not agree more. Such good read.
    Thanks for this Fitz.

  5. often, man is called the master of his choices because of freedom but we never master it anyway!

  6. Vanny says:

    Good article Sir Fitz. Tamang tama for me, thesis-mode na. Thank you!

  7. khayz says:

    Thank you for this article. I would be needing to live on my own by next year. I’m getting prepared as early as now.

  8. Xtinah Mariah says:

    “When people realized that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled” It reminds me of my dad and mum,,this is really an eye opener and a wake up call’ a must read. Thanks for the info=)

  9. Nehemiah says:

    I like the turning point of the writing in the end.

  10. Raymond says:

    I love your sharing Sir Fitz. I can very well relate with this article. I especially love the turn of events at your last story. And I agree, we really don’t have to sacrifice our happiness today for the sake of our future. It is one reminder that I constantly tell myself always. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I am really learning a lot from you. 🙂

  11. Joycee says:

    I was blown away. I’ll keep everything in mind and try to practice it as much as possible. Thanks, Sir Fitz!

  12. Tet says:

    Your best article yet!

  13. Vin says:

    I’m a new reader of your blog and I must say that this is the best article (of yours) I’ve read so far. I particularly love this sentence:
    “If your future depends on the choices you make today, then it follows that your present is a consequence of what you’ve done in the past.”
    I was like, “Oo nga no?” It’s frightening and at the same time astonishing to realize that our present is a solid testament of the ripple effects of our past actions. It was such a strong statement that made me realized so many things.

    This piece is beautifully written and inspiring. Thank you so much!

  14. erwin says:

    good read man.,., i cant remember the last time i read an article,..,thanks !for the inspiration!

  15. Donny says:

    I like this article so much. Please continue writing this kind of article 🙂

  16. Exande Bacolod says:

    Nice good job

  17. Ed Escueta says:

    Running or being healthy is an important part of preparation for your future as health is the only thing that you cannot afford to lose. So building good habits today, whether it be running every 5am in the morning or becoming physically fit will eventually make a drastic change in your life. A sound body is a sound mind and make better decisions to every area of you life.

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