Let’s start by asking “What’s your relationship to your future?” It seems like an unusual question when put that way doesn’t it? Now what I am going to assert is that there is this concept of a future out there and your relationship with it, conscious or not, has a great deal to with your relationship with results and your ability to manifest them. The purpose of this article is to see if we can start to get our minds around how we as successful entrepreneurs and business professionals can start to have more access to bringing our ideas, goals, and intentions closer to reality while creating a future that pulls us forward, inspires us, and allows us to live our passions.
First of all let me say that what I’m not talking about here is optimism. Optimism is defined as: an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome. To be optimistic isn’t what I would call a bad thing, however designing your future has more to do with focus, power, performance and less to do with simply just looking at life and hoping for the best that everything will work itself out; a sort of “rose colored glasses” filter if you will.
Let me give a very simple example here about what I am actually talking about. Think about the last job you held. Maybe it was a big corporation where you felt stuck or maybe the office environment wasn’t exactly to your liking. When you walked in on Monday morning at 8:00am how did that feel? Where you thrilled and excited to kick off the new week? Most of you probably answer no and thought “What am I even doing here?” Now, how about your experience of Friday afternoon let’s say at 4:45pm? I would venture to say it was very different. Why? Did something suddenly and miraculously change about your job or the circumstances? No of course not. It was because the future you were living into and your relationship to it that had changed.
In my experience in working with people I have come to discover that most people live in what you could call a sort of “default future.” A future that is overshadowed by the past where usually we are looking at trying to avoid a worst case scenario or the experience of some sort of pain; perceived or real. Steve Zaffron talks about this in his book The Three Laws of Performance when he says “Our default future consists of our expectations, fears, hopes, and predictions, all of which are ultimately based on our experience of the past. Incidents from the past live on as prediction, giving us our default future.” He then goes on to say “that this is why statistically 73 percent of change efforts fail and 70 percent of new strategies fall short of expectations.”
Creating your future powerfully and effectively starts with using your speaking and language to make declarations. Declarations are speaking about how you say things are going to go in the future for your life, your business, and your relationships. This idea is based on the principle of thought, word, and deed. Meaning what you think about something and how you speak about it has a lot to do with how your actions are going to go. This not really a new concept and it has many biblical references that are as old as mankind itself. President Kennedy gave us all a great example of this in his speech to Congress on May 25, 1961. In that speech he declared that how with very little how to evidence, support, and resources we would have a man on the moon and back by the end of the decade. It was only three short years later that12 Apollo astronauts would reach the lunar surface and fulfill that declaration.
Standing for a future is not an easy task. It takes a willingness to speak powerfully in the face of uncertainty and often very little agreement and let’s face it most people surely resist change. So we must constantly remind ourselves that we are the creator of our own destiny and take focused and consistent action toward the realization of our goals. When I first started in the coaching profession, there wasn’t even an industry around to support my idea for my new business! I was constantly forced to speak my future into existence and educate others on the benefits of hiring a coach and what the process looked like.
Speaking your future is only the beginning. Given the challenges we face in our fast moving and competitive global economy we must also support our invented future with strategies for success if we are ultimately going to manifest our desired intentions. In my experience the strategies that are most effective are as follows:
1. Create solid and specific short term goals that align with your passion and long term aspirations about your business and your life. These goals must be written down and reviewed regularly as to not loose sight of where you are moving towards and the point of why you are going there.
2. Put systems in place for managing your life and business that automate process and tasks that you have on a frequent basis. Finds systems are easy to use and that provide seamless integration so that you can stay focused on moving forward with your goals and continue to gain ground.
3. Get an accountability partner and create a regular feedback loop. As a coach it’s my job to hold my clients accountable to the promises they make and goals they set. I recommend using someone who can be unbiased and completely objective so that the feedback you get is clean, clear, and unfiltered.
4. Discover your passion and pursue something that inspires you. Nothing pulls you forward towards your invented future like passion. It is the spark that will get you through the challenges and obstacle you face along the path to success.
5. Stay committed to the result, yet open and flexible. I feel strongly that in our time of greatest adversity, can also come our greatest moments of clarity, insight, and knowledge. When we are open and willing to look at things that confront us in our journey, we grow personally and professionally in ways that can often not be immediately obvious, but ultimately can have tremendous value in the future.
Lastly, I think it’s also important to say a word about trust. One of the biggest challenges I see is that we must trust that good things are ahead for us on our journey. It takes an act of faith to know that the things we want are on already on the way to us. Practice spending time envisioning what you life would look like say a year from now if you were able to have all the experiences you desire. Work on staying present to that future and knowing that the path you are on will always give you the lessons you need to move forward and good things are on the way.