Create the Future You Prefer
Recently I saw the familiar quote, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." We've all seen it and I'm pretty sure credit goes to Brian Tracy.
Whoever said it first, it happens to be true! But the question they never address is, HOW? How do we create the future we want? What are the steps? Does it take special talent, or perhaps a crystal ball?
This week, a friend and I talked about the future and the world we expect to live in a few years from now. Our focus happened to be the economy, so we talked about the potential for inflation, the future of the Euro, the slow-down in China's economy and the impact on our investments. We speculated about this fall's election and what it will mean for business. It was great fun and our conversation wondered all over the topics of the day.
The key is that I think conversations like that are the first step to creating your own future.
We often hear that our present circumstances are the sum total of our beliefs and actions in the past. What we have today is a reflection of all the choices we've made in the past. For better or worse, we've built the life we have today.
I happen to believe outside influences also play a (small) role, but for the most part, how we use our time, invest or spend our money, and what we focus on, inevitably creates the life we live. Seldom does any one decision have a huge impact, but the cumulative effect is undeniable. Day by day, we create our own lives.
So to create the future we want, I think we begin by imagining it. It's vital to know exactly, precisely what you want the future to look like!
There's nothing mysterious or surprising about this. Sir Isaac Newton observed that, "A life in motion tends to stay in motion." (I may be paraphrasing a bit, to make a point.)
Let's be very clear.
New technology changes everything, every single day. The financial markets fluctuate more rapidly and with more impact than ever before. The political choices people make— all over the world—impact our lives. The recent elections in Egypt will impact our lives, in one way or another. The slow-down in China's economy will affect interest rates, consumer prices, and more. Closer to home, the new health- care law will impact every business and every person who sees a doctor. And I understand we have an election coming in the fall.
Here's the nugget. Most people are so focused on their own lives and their immediate concerns that they pay little attention to these "macro" or world-changing events. There's just no time! They're too busy, too stressed, too focused on surviving to think about the news or ponder the impact of global trends. It's just "too much!"
But these things matter!
To create your own future, it's vital to think about a world with Mitt Romney as President, or where Barack Obama implements his policies for a second term. In creating the life you want, it matters what interest rates do, especially if you hope to buy a home or expand your business. In many parts of America, it makes economic sense to learn Spanish— not to mention the cultural enrichment it might bring you!
Conversations like the one my friend and I had this week expand awareness and bring things into focus. Talk about the future you imagine. Play "what if" and "let's pretend" to see how things work out. What will inflation do to your retirement plans? How will oil prices impact your travel plans? What if China stopped producing iPhones and televisions—or raised prices dramatically?
The winners in life have "unusual awareness." They read and listen to the news. They think about trends and look for opportunities. They prepare for change and adapt with grace and elegance. They imagine the life they truly want and keep a watchful eye for anything that might threaten their dreams or facilitate their plans.
Too many people "sleep-walk" through life. They go through the motions. They work hard and hope for the best. But not you! Successful people stay awake. They plan. They prepare. They are always thinking and they adapt. They ride the winds of change and use them to your advantage.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ Mark Twain