Where Does Your Future Live?
The future has an impact on us. It affects how we feel and the actions we take.
It’s not what we have had in the past, but how the future looks to us that has the greater impact. For example, imagine a person who earns $50,000 per year and sees that next year he will earn $60,000 and another person who earns $500,000 per year and sees that next year he will only earn $400,000. The one making $50,000 will be happier than the one making $500,000. It’s not the absolute amount that impacts happiness; it is more how the future looks. For the first person the future is one of having more, for the latter having less.
You may have seen this impact for yourself. How do you feel when you know the project you are working on will be a success? When you are about to go on vacation? When you are about to see a loved one you haven’t seen in a long time? And, on the flip side, how do you feel when you are about to enter a meeting in which you think your project will be criticized and dismissed? When you have to work for the second weekend in a row?
Considering the future can have this impact on how we feel and the actions we take, you may be faced with a question: Can I engage with the future in such a way that I am left happy, engaged and in action to fulfill what is most important to me? The answer to that question is, Yes!
- Determine what you would like to have in the future.
A key first step in engaging with the future this way is to determine what you would like to have in the future; what, if it were in your future, would inspire you, would light you up, would bring you joy. While simple in principle, it can be difficult in practice. (And, we are not going to address this step at this time.)
- Determine “where” the future will exist.
An important next step is determining where the future will live; where it will exist. By “where it will exist” I mean is the future on post-it notes, on a to-do list, taped to the refrigerator door?
I will give you a personal example. One of the things I saw would leave me satisfied at the end of the winter was having gone skiing – at least once. I am now scheduled to go the mountains in a few weeks with a friend! I am stoked!
One thing I haven’t scheduled yet is going to a basketball game with friends. The game lives for me differently. It doesn’t have the same life, the same juice, as going skiing. For going skiing I can picture the mountain and snow, having fun with my friend, and I can almost feel the crisp air and smell the pine trees. For the game, I can conjure up what it might be like, however it is more distant; the conjuring takes more effort. Any vision I have of the game is generic; for example, I can’t picture who I’d invite to go with me.
So, what can account for the difference between my experience of my planned trip to go skiing and my intention to go to a basketball game? Where the future lives. For skiing, the future is in my calendar. For the game, it is on a list of what I do not have scheduled. And, having my ski trip in my calendar gives a lift to everything I am doing.
You can attempt this with anything you have to do – get it into your calendar. I particularly invite you to put into your calendar activities for yourself and your enjoyment. Having things we enjoy scheduled in our calendar makes it easier to deal with the difficulties we face. A much different and more beneficial impact than those things we haven’t scheduled.
(Now I know why my mother regularly asks me when she is going to see me next. Mom, if you’re reading this, I will call you later today and schedule when we see each other next!)
As always, let us know what happens!
I’ll write again after my ski trip!
To learn more about generating your future powerfully, check out our Productivity & Accomplishment Workshop, taking place February 4th & 5th in Denver, Colorado.