Thinking About The Future Happens In The Present
As the last post in our series on starting a new year, I wanted to end by encouraging you to think about the future more, not less. The previous posts on planning for the new year may have sounded precautionary or even pessimistic, but that was not the intention. I wanted to offer a different perspective to what can be an overly optimistic and “head in the sky” type mentality around the new year and resolutions.
The fact is, the ability to imagine and plan for the future is one of the unique human characteristics that separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. So we should absolutely take advantage of it. The interesting thing about planning for the future is that not all of us do it in the same way, or to the same degree. Some of us think about the future as colorful images. Others plan for the future as a set of steps to follow or processes to perform. Some of us think about a future that is far off while others think about the closer future, which is fast approaching.
As you begin the new year and strive to reach your personal and professional goals, I want to offer you a few tips on how you can plan and imagine your future differently.
- Include Your Present: Our future plans always include at least a little bit of what is going on in our present situation. If we plan for more future success in sales quotas, it is because we are already in some sales capacity. And if we imagine a happier future marriage, it is because we are currently married. So one key to making your future goals more realistic is to make sure you are doing everything you can in the present to make them more attainable.
- Expand Your Present: Many of us have the tendency to think about the future as something that happens far off in distant years or decades. This fine, and even healthy to imagine what things may be like in the distant future but it comes with a cost. None of us knows or can plan for what will happen to tomorrow, let alone many years down the road. I recommend coupling our desires for the distant future with plans for the more immediate as well. Although we don’t know exactly what will happen in either time frame, our guesses about tomorrow (or five minutes from now) are likely to be more accurate than our dreams for ten years down the road.
- Plan in the Present: I think its interesting that the time we set aside every year to plan for our futures also happens to be a time when we are usually on vacation or working less hours; namely during the holidays of December and January. The holiday time allows many of us to have a mental break and the new year is the culturally appropriate time when we think and plan for our futures. When we are bogged down in the deadlines and meetings of our busy calendars, it is hard for us to plan for next year, let alone the next ten minutes. I encourage you to set aside mental “breaks” in your calendars for thinking about your future. Resolutions do not have to come in January, but they should be a part of our daily lives as we continuously plan for a future that is always changing.
New Year…New Beginnings!