The average person has between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts running through their head each day. This ranges from conscious thoughts through to thinking about the next letter to type in a sentence. Until recently, most of my daily thoughts focused on one thing. The time-consuming thoughts of what’s next?
Over the past four years of university life, every move I have made has been calculated to determine its effect on my future. Anybody who is close to me would probably describe me as an overachiever. For a while this mindset worked well, I was achieving exactly what I wanted. But eventually and almost too late, I realised that constantly focusing on my next step was making me miss out on the now.
Since discovering that I had been living a horribly unbalanced life, I have met many students who have fallen into the same trap. Those who prioritise study over everything and say no to social events and those who have tunnel vision working towards their end goal, and miss the fun along the way.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry; it isn’t too late to turn things around.
So, how can you focus more on the now?
Stop freaking out
The first step is to realise that allowing yourself to live a little doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be able to reach goals. The key is learning how to prioritise and make efficient use of your time. Once you have mastered your time management skills you’ll be free to spend your time without constantly worrying about the next thing on your to-do list.
If you’re like me there have been countless times when you’ve turned down an invite because you felt the need to study or spend hours aimlessly assessing possible future jobs. Hanging out with friends, family and even (gasp) strangers at networking events can not only help boost your happiness from interaction with others but could even lead to future job prospects (you never know who you’ll meet). If you’re not sure where to start, check out the Griffith Mates, Student Guild, and SRC events on your campus. Plus, there are tonnes of clubs and sporting teams to join too.
Prioritise your mental health
The great thing about mindfulness and living in the present is the amazing benefits it brings for your mental health. Not only are you going to feel better, but focusing on self-care can leave your brain feeling more focused and motivated for the times when you are studying. Student Services Counselling have an entire page dedicated to mindfulness and self-care on their website which you can find here.
Find a good influence
Find someone who seems to have the study/life balance down pat and just ask them how they do it. Not only can they provide some helpful tips, they could also be the person that helps you to step away from the computer and head out to an event at uni. I have been lucky enough to meet some incredible people this year who have done just that, and their influence honestly does more than they think.
Finally, spend some time self-reflecting. If you are like me and your mind spends most of the time dreaming of the future, then maybe it’s time to make a change. You don’t have to put aside your big dreams to have fun now; it is possible to have both.
Just think, one day when you’re retired and are looking back at your life, do you want to remember yourself as the person who spent every thought focused on the future, or do you want to look back fondly on the journey you had along the way?