Mindful means being in the moment, while proactive means thinking and working ahead. Both are important for your career, but they seem to contradict each other. Can you be mindful and proactive at the same time? The answer is a resounding yes!

The problem with mindfulness is that it’s often misunderstood. Mindfulness at work doesn’t mean you just “meditate at your desk” and stay present only in the now.  What it’s really about is “taking the intensity we normally have” and using it to focus on one thing instead of five others.

Being mindful as you look ahead is the best way to balance the present and the future. You’re proactive instead of reactive, and it can pay off in many ways. Combine being mindful and proactive, and it’ll pay off a number of ways.

Better relationships: Being mindful helps you pick up on other people’s cues, so you can notice what someone is doing and adjust your vocabulary to meet them where they are.

Achieving your goals: Jason DeVere, the founder of GoalCrazy Planners, suggests ending every day by planning out the next. Why? Because it will not only help you achieve your goals but also help you feel much more present after work because you will “not be worried about what you have to do tomorrow.”

Creating stronger strategies: Don’t get caught up in the urgent “fires” that happen at work each day. Plan ahead for the most important events, and you will be able to focus on what really matters to you each day.

Setting yourself up for success: You can balance being fully present with proactively planning for the future by forging a relationship with your future self that can encourage you to take steps now that will pay off later. Research backs this statement up, indicating that just seeing a photo of you as a senior can help you make better decisions for your future.

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