Living Next Week’s Life This Week

How often do we ruin a perfectly good week because our minds are in the next one? I’ve caught myself several times lately in a hurried mindset. I know what’s behind it. Beginning in 5 days, over a 16-day period, I am leading a 3-day training, speaking at a conference, going on a group spiritual retreat, attending a daylong training, and going with my family on a spring break trip to the beach. This mad rush has been coming for a long time. It seems that every organization I’m involved with and every training cycle that I’m a part of picks early April as the perfect time to hold their events/conferences…..right before/during spring break! And so, I’m facing a crunch.

Here’s what I do. The near constant subtext of my thoughts is in next week. I’m going over my plan, making sure I’m prepared for everything, checking to make sure that I’ve scheduled all the clients I need to see before and after, wondering how tired I will feel in between this and that, and generally I’M LIVING NEXT WEEK’S LIFE BUT IT IS STILL THIS WEEK! Here’s the evidence I collected that let me know I needed to challenge my mindset:

  • I had forgotten that I still have a whole weekend at home before all of this begins.
  • I had thoughts like “I hate that using the bathroom takes so much time!”
  • I was compulsively flipping through the weeks in my calendar as if I had missed something.
  • I would get in my car to drive home from the office and think, “I wish I were just already home.”

I wonder if Jesus ever got caught up in swirls like this? Do you think that while walking from the temple to Simon’s home that he sometimes muttered, “geez, if only we didn’t have to spend all this time eating we could really do some good here.” Maybe. But for the most part it seems that Jesus was imminently interruptible and open to changes in his plan. He gives us an example of being present. That’s what I realized I was lacking. I started intentionally talking to myself when I noticed my hurried and ‘next week’ thoughts. I talked to myself like this:

  • “Yes Janice, you have a lot coming up, but you have it all planned out and today is a good day to enjoy.”
  • “Janice, everyone poops, so the story goes. This is a part of being human.”
  • “Janice, one more look at the calendar doesn’t help you stay in the moment.”
  • “Janice, use the drive home from the office to unwind and mentally review your work day. This time is a gift”

I have become convinced that the better we are at talking to ourselves, the healthier we will be. I felt my attitude shift and I’m grateful. The next weeks will likely be intense and I wouldn’t want my entire life to be scheduled like this. But each piece was carefully chosen and planned for and I will be just fine. Part of it is a vacation, for crying out loud! Another is a retreat! Much of my anticipation has a quality of exaggeration. How do you talk to yourself so that you can stay in this week?

2 comments


  • Thank you for this timely reminder!!!

    March 27, 2014
  • tth

    I have done the exact same thing recently, because of my eight month old baby. I’m constantly preoccupied by whether I have enough baby care lined up for the next few days, the next month, the next semester, that I stress myself out in the present. I don’t get work done because I’m busy setting up future work opportunities! This steals my feeling of competence at being with her and caring for her by myself and makes me feel like I’m not being a good mom, though I know I am. And it makes it harder to get schoolwork done for the present semester. Lord, have mercy!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Janice!

    March 29, 2014

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