I had a thought the other day, and it was based on focus. In the coaching world we talk about ‘what you focus on is what you get’. This is not a new philosophy, it’s been bouncing around for a while. And it’s quite simple really – if you focus on good things, you’ll see good things everywhere – if you focus on bad things, you’ll see bad things everywhere. This is of course in a very small nutshell, but only because I trust that you’re familiar with this principle.

The thought I had (to get back to the point!) was to do with where in time we choose to focus, and how that may act as a barometer to our happiness.

Let’s say that the bulk of your focus is in the past; you focus on past pain, past joys, past victories, past losses, past love, past regret, and so on. Being that you are actually living in the present yet focussing on the past, how much sustainable joy will you experience with your thoughts firmly placed in yesterday and yesteryear? You are focussed on what you no longer have and what no longer is. Whether you like it or not, you are focussed on pain – your pain.

Even if you’re focussing on all the good times in the past – too much time spent here leads to pain. Let’s be honest, spending so much focus on the past eventually burns your happiness. You’re spending time on what could have been or should have been. You’re consumed with what if’s that will never come to pass – because you have already passed them.

What about spending the bulk of your focus on the present? Going to your job, seeing your friends, your family, the house you live in, the car you drive, the clothes you wear. By focussing everything on the present, and only the present nothing can change. Completely focussing on the present means no change!

By completely focussing on the present you make no plans. Why would you – plans are for the future! Staying focussed only on today insulates you from progress. You would not go for that promotion, improve your diet, exercise, save for that holiday, see friends, family or anything that involves forward thinking or interaction.

Life steeped only in the present is a merri-go-round of sameness – it doesn’t stop and you eventually get sick of the same view. You expect less and less of yourself and others. Life becomes VERY boring. Groundhog Day.

What about being wholly future focussed? You’ve gotta get this done, see this person, plan that thing, get to that place, plan that holiday, etc. It’s fair to say that these things do need focus and attention – these are things that you want! But if you’re too focussed on what needs to be done, then what about today?

Today is then littered with half-finished projects. The next shiny thing that comes along steals your attention and you’re off again! You can’t sit still and smell the roses. You go through each day unsatisfied and unfulfilled and unhappy that you’re not where you want to be yet.

So what is the answer?

I believe that balance is key. If we focus too much on one of these 3, then our life will be imbalanced. Just as we are told to have a balanced diet, we should also keep a balanced focus.

Maybe it’s time to ask yourself – “Where is the bulk of my focus?” Are you mainly focussed on the future, the present or the past? Are you leaving one of these out? This too can be unhealthy.


I believe balance says that each of them have their place, but too much of anything is not a good thing and neglecting another is no good either.

The past, present and future each have an important part to play when it comes to our focus. The past can give us lessons to help us better navigate today’s challenges. The future can give us hope, something to strive for. The present is extremely important – we are ALWAYS physically there!

So, do you give each of them equal focus and time? I don’t think so. Balance doesn’t necessarily mean an equal split. What may be a good balance for one person may not work so well for another. It’s hard to know exactly what the best combination is – every person is different and looks to achieve different things. I am confident that if you spend less time focussed on the past and let your future focus influence your present focus, you will find your world open up to possibilities of the future, the wisdom of the past and the joys of the present.

Author's Bio: 

Youarn Bell is a coach and trainer based in Australia with a growing reputation for helping people from all walks of life to push past their perceived limits and drastically improve their life rapidly. Visit: http://www.exclusivesuccessstrategies.com for more information.