How to Properly Aim at a Better Future
The future almost never turns out exactly how you thought it would, no matter how hard you plan for it. Sometimes, it exceeds your expecations. Other times, it underwhelms. But rarely do you get exactly what you want exactly when you expect to get it.
Mixed in between you’ll find random obstacles, setbacks, and even tragic situations you must deal with.
As I’ve explained in other posts already, this year included the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I quit my job to become a full-time writer and ended up making more money than any other year in my life by far. I spent the entire year pouring my soul into a new book. I’m confident I’ll never have to work a job again.
Also, my marriage crumbled. I went partially blind in one eye due to complications with sickle cell anemia — a disease I’ve had for my entire life. I took a sabbatical from my job because I was distressed from having to move out of the house in a hurry. Said sabbatical led to me quitting altogether. Who knows how long I would’ve stayed without life shaking things up for me?
That’s the funny part about it all — the good and bad have a symbiotic relationship with one another. Sometimes you’ll never get it until shit hits the fan. Fortune can be a blessing or a curse.
The future unfolds in its own unique way and as Steve Jobs famously said:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”
This year has caused me to ponder an important question — to what degree should you think about, worry about, or plan for the future?
If so many variables are out of your control, what’s the use in trying to predict what will happen?
How can you create the future you want without planning?
After giving it some thought, here’s the attitude I’m going to use moving into 2020 and beyond.
“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” — Marcus Aurelius
I am done trying to predict the future altogether. Moving forward, I’m going to string along as many moments of present focused effort as I possibly can.
I’m cultivating the attitude that I’ll be able to deal with whatever comes in those moments because those moments are all I have.
I’m fortunate enough to know, more or less, what I want to do with my life. The sides roads will change, but I’m pretty obstinate about the main path.
Can you afford to think like me yet? It’s much easier to become meditative about your life after you get a little worldly success. Notice hollywood actors never start out as buddhist vegan hipsters.
Don’t you need to think about the future somewhat if you want to have a better one?
If you haven’t put in much work toward a new dream yet, yes, focus on the future, but, as best you can, try to make it as distant and vauge as possible.
Your life will get better as soon as you move in a direction. The endpoint itself doesn’t matter — just be moving forward.
Don’t move sideways — moving from one crabby job to a slightly different crappy job. Do something different and unique. But stick with it long enough to see something come to fruition, even if you don’t know what that something is.
Just work hard and be patient because…you have no clue. You don’t know how things will turn out, at all. I can tell you from the other side, though, that if you enjoy what you’re doing, practice relentlessly, and never quit, things usually turn out quite well.
Quite quite well.
I was reading a blog post about how success compounds and one of the quotes was:
We don’t know a single person who attempted to make it for 5+ years that failed.
That’s the key.
As much as luck is involved in the process of becoming successful at anything, time tends to reduce that luck factor. Life is like a poker tournament — some novice players get lucky hands, but often, even in a game of chance, the card sharks always end up at the final table.
That’s a good way to think of yourself — a budding card shark.
You get your series of hands and you never know what your cards are going to be until they’re dealt. Then…you play them. If you’re good, you play them patiently.
If you’re good at life, you play life patiently.
“Always seem patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually.” — Robert Greene
In the beginning, I was in a rush to be successful. Now? I’m trying to make my life longer.
By not adding extra emotion to every decision I make as if it’ll make or break my future.
By rooting myself in gratitude and working for the sake of working hard — because hard work plus enjoyment equals meaning.
Most importantly, by understanding I didn’t need anything to feel successful in the first place. That’s the lesson you can’t learn until you go through it. Even after years of work, you’re essentially the same person. The tools you needed were already there the whole time. You just weren’t using them.
That’s the moral of the story — you already have all the tools. Your “weapons of reason” are already available to you, but you won’t use them until the experiences in your life help you unearth them.
Me saying this isn’t going to keep you from incessantly thinking about the future. I still do. But it’s a good reminder. If you were to somehow quell your anxieties often enough to focus on the present moments in your life, you’d look up and be wildly successful.
Hard to do? Yes. The right way to do it? Hell yes.
As far as the monkey wrenches in your life, they’re yours to interpret. Often, people who go through a major accident report reaching a base level of happiness again quite easily.
Setbacks, obstacles, and tragedy can often be catalysts to make you appreciate life, to help you realize your own role in your demise so you can be better, to make you alert and aware instead of jaded and cynical.
All in all, I’m going to stay present and simply calibrate myself to each moment as it unfolds over a lifetime.
Try it with me. I think it’s going to work.
Ayodeji is the Author of Real-Help: An Honest Guide to Self-Improvement