Adam Piggott

Gentleman adventurer

Living in the now just means you’ll be broke.


Type ‘living in the now’ into google and you will get a bewildering array of articles, images, and pithy sayings all helpfully moving you on to a better life. What could be wrong in living in the now? Dwelling in the past just makes you sad, and worrying about the future just makes you anxious and fearful. It’s all about the now.

Well I’m here to tell you that living in the now and attempting to base your life around phony tenants of mindfulness will leave you nothing short of dead broke. After all, how many wealthy hippies have you ever met in your life?

I attempted to follow the old ‘living in the now’ for many years. During my teenage years my nutty mother was swept up in all things new age and she liked nothing better than to pitch all of her new found ‘wisdoms’ onto poor old unsuspecting me. She dragged me along to the courses, she gave me all the books and I duly read them. I even spent a year working as a personal assistant to a major new age speaker when I was in my early twenties.

This mindset followed me throughout my life. And while I was successful in many areas there was one aspect of my life where I was a consistent failure. I was terrible with money. I never had much and what I had I quickly frittered away. Eventually I dragged myself out of bad habits and managed to turn things around. And if I look back I have to admit that a major determinant to my financial struggles was the old message of ‘living in the now’.

Here is an article that is typical of the whole mindfulness boondoggle. It is titled, 10 steps to mindfulness. While these 10 steps may seem to be at worst inoffensive and at best fantastic ways to live your life, it is very easy to fall into the trap of falsely incorporating these steps into your life. In other words, you miss out on any positives that there might be and you get all the negatives. Most of these are just total baloney but I’ll mention a few that need more investigation.

2. Do it slowly and deliberately.

If you take this to heart you’re going to miss a lot of deadlines. You’re also not going to get much done. One of the secrets to getting ahead is to work hard. This step is a great excuse for the lazy to convince themselves that they are being ‘zen’ while in actual fact they’re just goofing off.

3. Do less.

The same as number 2. It’s the old goof-off excuse.

6. Stop worrying about the future – focus on the present.

And here we are. This is the worst one of the lot. This is the monster in the room and it will lead you to a life of financial misery. I lived it, and I saw it all the time. If you couple this with your personal finances it will mean that you will spend everything that you have. Because you’ll be living in the now! Spend, spend, spend! In reality you need to live for the future. It’s called planning. It’s about exercising thrift. It’s about saving for a rainy day. A rainy day in the future. Not today. Even if it’s fucking raining.

If you ignore the future you won’t have the ability to save.

The convenient excuse of ‘living in the now’ is manna from heaven for those who want to fritter away their money. It gives them a way of feeling good about doing something that at a subconscious level they know is bad. But ignoring the past is also a terrible idea.

If you ignore the past them you won’t learn from your mistakes.

All that money that you frittered away? All those years spent not saving which have left you living from paycheck to paycheck? If you live in the now all you’re going to do is to repeat those mistakes. Over and over and over again.

Couple these two mistakes together, not saving for the future and not learning from your mistakes, and then wrap them up in a delusion of believing that you are ‘mindful’ and ‘living in the now’, and you have a stunningly efficient method of ensuring that you live a life of frustration and wasted potential.

It is a super-tough nut to crack. And if I look back on all those new-age weekend courses that I helped run, the vast majority of people were attempting to fix their financial servitude. And we were telling them to live in the now. It was absolutely appalling.

Footnote – I’m going to make my Sunday post, (Australian time), a regular financial post. So tune in next week for the other great lie that people with bad financial habits use to stay in their poverty mindset.


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  1. A balance is important.
    Due to a death in the family, I took a whole weekend to reevaluate my own life. I was inspired by a quote from Seneca: One should not fear death because one should already have lived long enough. For me, that means doing the things that I want to do while I still can.
    I made a list of all the things I want to do for short, medium and long term goals.
    Short term: eating out at a few nice, cheap places I know but rarely get to because they’re a bit out of the way. Strolling in the mountains straight after work.
    Medium term: lifting, running, swimming etc. Meditation.
    Long term: completing my novel. Studying the classics. Saving money.
    The most important list I made was of the stuff I wanted to do less of. It came down to just two items, working too much and messing around on my phone. I cut back on the latter. As for the former, I’m seriously considering moving to part time work in the next few years. I can just about afford to live hand-to-mouth until 65 and then I should have enough invested for retirement in a third world country. I’ve never spent more than two thirds of my take home pay, so why do I work so much? I’m going to die one day. I reckon I should live frugally, which I do anyway, and use the extra time to enjoy . . . the now.
    Living in the now is the reward for having learned the mistakes of the past and for having established plans for the future.

    • Adam

      Most of what you wrote involves planning for the future and evaluating your past. It sounds pretty good to me.

  2. tomas grace

    Another issue with new age buddhist mindful thinking…is that the authors/proponents really want readers to embrace non-competition and such. But really, will that work in a world where there are scarce jobs (unless you’re a woman who can easily score a plum government job), and you cannot afford to be passive?

    • Adam

      By non-competition do you mean like living on a commune?

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