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The Single Most Important Secret to Moving Forward in Life

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Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of anyone who says, “I have the single most important secret” to anything, let alone life. But sometimes I get surprised by simple yet profound truths.


So let me cut to the chase and give you the secret: What is ahead matters more than what is behind (because you can’t change the past), and what counts most is now.



In other words, the only thing you can actually do anything about is this moment. Right now. You can’t successfully move forward if you are always looking behind you or if you are always dreaming about or worrying about what might happen tomorrow.


Here’s how Leo Tolstoy put it: “Remember that there is only one important time and it is Now. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.”


In nearly four decades of leading and helping people, I’ve seen thousands who were fixated on their past get stuck or crash and burn. They live in the tragic world of if-only.


If only I hadn’t married that person.


If only I wouldn’t have quit school.


If only I hadn’t chosen that career.


If only I were a better parent.


And the list goes on and on.


I’m not saying our history is unimportant. I’m not saying yesterday doesn’t matter. Of course, we should learn from our past if we hope to avoid similar errors in the future.


But some, too many probably, are trying to move forward while staring in the rearview mirror, and it’s not wise or profitable. Mirrors are helpful, but if you drive too much while looking back, you’re going to end up in the ditch.



Then, on the opposite extreme, are the excessive “visionaries” among us who are always talking about tomorrow.


Someday, I’m going to write that book.


Next week, I’ll tackle that project.


Any day now my ship’s comin’ in and everything’s going to be better.


One of these days I’m going to change the way I eat and will lose some weight. (For the record, I’ve been saying that for about ten years.)


And the list goes on and on.


Certainly, having a dream for your future is helpful. There’s nothing wrong with being a visionary. Having a plan is better than always winging it.


But some, too many probably, spend so much time fantasizing about what they hope for that they get little, if anything, done today.



The final group contains those who are paralyzed by fear, doubt, and worry about the future.


They live in the crippling world of what-if.


What if the economy crashes?


What if my health fails?


What if I never get married?


What if my kid goes bad?


And again, the list goes on and on.


I’ll go on the record, because Jesus did, as saying that nothing good ever comes from worry.


Worrying does not do any good; who here can claim to add even an hour to his life by worrying? So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today.  Matthew 6:27, 34



So if fretting over what might happen or getting desperately consumed by what you hope will happen or getting stuck looking back isn't good, how should we live?


Live in the now. Live in this moment. Live to do whatever you can wherever you can to make this minute count. Right now. Right here. That’s all you can control, and that’s why now matters most.


Rather than if-only, trust the God whose specialty is redemption, restoration, and renewal.


Rather than someday, learn to practice the art of being fully present today.


Rather than what-if, surrender your fears to the One who loves you more than His own life. He will never let you down. Never.


Remember the secret to living this way of life: what matters most is now.


What will you do with this moment?


This is the day that the LORD has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24, ESV

Kurt Bubna

Kurt W. Bubna has published seven books, is an internationally recognized blogger, conference and retreat speaker, as well as an experienced life and leadership coach. Bubna has over forty years of experience working with individuals, teams, and a wide variety of business and non-profit organizations.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Laura (Jones) Morford

    So needed to hear this! Thank you! <3

  2. Kay Anderson

    It is valuable to pursue positive change in attitudes and behaviors. But it’s never easy to stick with and grow it into a habit. For all who are struggling with this–take baby steps if necessary but decide to never give up or give in. Pray and keep going in the right direction.

  3. Chris Vickers

    I needed this today. Thanks Kurt!

    1. KurtBubna

      You are most welcome, Chris. Love you guys!

  4. Bruce Bowen

    Outstanding post, Kurt. It is amazing how often the past pops up when I try to go forward or, fear of what is ahead slows my progress. I am also amazed how many things I worried about in the past never actually happened. When I can focus on the right decision for right now, it is amazing how much easier life is.

    1. KurtBubna

      So true. Thanks for adding to the conversation. Love you guys!

  5. sarah

    🙂 Love

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you! Love and appreciate you so much!

  6. Rebecca Gump

    I think you covered everything wow! I so totally love the Tolstoy quote. I was trying to think which people group I would put myself in and I think it would be “I wish I wouldn’t have said that” group. Lol

    Oh well some things never change….;)

    1. KurtBubna

      Hi R, I’m in the same group as you! 🙂 Thanks for the kinds words. Love you guys!

  7. kelly

    an awesome post…and one I will keep open to remind me of this when I too go off on a tangent of what if’s…or worry myself and others sick…its an ugly habit I AM trying to break..and to instead pray to God..whenever i feel the emotions start…or the thinking those thoughts…
    thank you as always Mr. Bubna!!!

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you, Kelly, praying with and for you.

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you, Ed! Great minds…

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