Recently, I was considering some objectives and obstacles and thought back to that assignment. What would I write about myself today? With further consideration, I thought about the notion of projecting myself into my future. What would I want my life to look like in six months? What if I wrote a eulogy for the problems facing me today?
Today’s issues belong to today. Yet we often project them far into the future and allow them to taint our outlook, actions, and experience. That projection of today’s problems acts as an inhibitor. A barrier to our sense of possibility regardless of the objectives we’ve set.
This moment’s problems are masters of mocking, assaulting, and unhinging our best laid plans. We take the time to set goals, only to find disruption around the corner. It makes planning very difficult, staying the course incredibly challenging, and happiness quite elusive. Until…..we finally reach that point where we find a way through, achieve some version of our objectives, and move on to the next set of challenges.
What if we took a different approach? Imagine yourself in six months, penning a eulogy for today’s problems:
“Here lie the collection of problems burdening me on July 12, 2015. They were worthy adversaries and pushed me to be better. Now they are vanquished. I could not be where I am without them and, fearful as they were, I prevailed.”
What might you say in 12 months? Or 12 years? Hindsight has such a great way of revealing solutions to things that are really problematic in the moment.
Future-casting in this manner is really another way to set goals. However, instead of thinking in terms of objectives and steps toward achievement, we create a vision for tomorrow and project ourselves there looking backwards.
What do you want your world to look like in 6 months? How many pieces of goodness can you count in that future moment? What will today’s problems look like from that point down the road? How did you get from here to there?
For me, I often limit my vision of the future because I find it difficult to look past the problems I have not yet solved today. “Some day I’d like to go on an African safari.” “I want to start my own business.” “I want to take a mission trip to Haiti.” Maybe it is something less ambitious: “I want to save $x.xx from every paycheck.” “I want to take my family on a vacation.”
It is hard to imagine any future ambitions when you’ve recently lost your job and are thrust into the turbulence of a search. The death of a loved one or health challenges can be even more debilitating. Even the day-to-day bumps can throw us off a hopeful road. We can be very effective at losing ourselves to the challenges of the moment, forgetting that there will be a tomorrow and that there are still dreams to be dreamed, and lived
The next time you find yourself struggling to take the next step, paralyzed by the challenges of the moment, take a breath and jump forward 6 or 12 months.
If you can honestly project yourself to that point in time, you should grab a pen (or a keyboard) and write a eulogy for today’s problems. A vision statement for a moment in time past what you see today. Be broad in your vision and specific in the details.
I think you’ll find a way to smile and acknowledge the path through, around, and over those burdens weighing on you today. I think you’ll see a version of yourself thriving in a place different from this moment, facing new challenges, and knowing that they too will pass.