December 19, 2013

Why Planning Works & Why it Doesn’t.

As the calendar year draws to a close there is a great focus on reviewing the past and planning for the future.

The question “What’s next?” arises.

  • What will you do next in your life and your work?
  • How will you more fully and authentically realize your dreams?

What’s next? is an important question. It can connect you to the creative impulse of Life that is seeking to germinate, unfold, and blossom as your life. Asking “What’s next?” evokes next-consciousness.

What is next-consciousness?

It’s the awareness that you living in time; that this life is brief; and that you’re here for a purpose. Next-consciousness reminds you that it takes intention and action to move through time—then all your creations, experiences, and impulses will be recycled patterns of the past.

But next-consciousness isn’t enough. Next-consciousness is powerful—as it focuses your attention on removing the obstacles to fully and authentically fulfilling your dream. It’s not enough to live a deeply satisfying and meaningful life.

We also need to cultivate now-consciousness. While next-consciousness is bound to time, finding meaning in comparisons between past, present, and future, now-consciousness is ever-present.

Now-consciousness is free of comparisons, un-bounded by time. Now-consciousness reveals the unborn, undying, ever-present radiance that is this moment. None-the-less, now-consciousness isn’t enough.

We need both now and next consciousness. Both modes of consciousness contribute to an integrated life.

Read the paired sentences below and notice: which describe familiar states of mind? Which are unfamiliar?

Next-consciousness makes plans.
Now-consciousness is present.

Next-consciousness sees opportunities for improvement.
Now-consciousness allows everything to be as it is.

Next-consciousness removes the obstacles to success.
Now-consciousness removes thoughts of obstacles and success.

Next-consciousness perfects imperfections.
Now-consciousness experiences imperfections as perfect.

Next-consciousness gets stuff done.
Now-consciousness allows life to unfold.

Next-consciousness loves action.
Now-consciousness loves stillness.

Are you more familiar with now or next consciousness?

Do you prefer one mode over the other? How do you avoid the mode that is more unfamiliar or uncomfortable?

What were you aware of? Are you more familiar with now-consciousness? Or next-consciousness? Do you prefer one mode over the other? How do you avoid the mode that is more unfamiliar or uncomfortable?

Life includes both now and next consciousness.

To live whole-heartedly, to embody your purpose—embrace them both. Allow them to merge into an integrated way of being. By merging next-consciousness with the peace of now-consciousness you will be able to set goals and take actions as an expression of that peace and completeness—not to prove anything or gain self-worth.

The integration of now and next consciousness is a practice that allows the generative impulse of life to realize itself as your life. (Read that sentence again . . . it’s key.)

By embracing both modes of consciousness, you embrace your life.

Through now-consciousness you realize the ever-present completeness of your fundamental nature. And through next-consciousness you whole-heartedly engage with the twists and turns of your daily life. You work intensely—but without compulsion; fueled by a sense of appreciation and gratitude not anxiety and grasping.

Deep within you know all is as it should be —which in no way blinds you to the recognition of when it’s time to mow the grass, flip over the pancakes, end the email, or tell someone I love you.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Courtesy of Author.

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