I’m all for crafting goals. I’ve witnessed a lot of success in the process of visualizing realities that align with internal values, and formalizing them with active statements to reflect our intentions. I’m also a firm believer in referring to our goals, regularly, in order to reinforce our focus and aim towards our highest priorities. In addition to sharpening our aim, goals often give us clear recognition of misguided activities, friendships and partnerships that no longer serve us at the core.
While tuning into our goals creates space for possibilities to unfold with clarity and focus, we can sometimes get so hung-up on the unknown details of future outcomes that we actually narrow the scope of possibilities to achieve what we really want. We either fixate on how the future needs to look so much, that we completely ignore existing opportunities to get there, or we predetermine the path to get there, before we’ve even allowed ourselves to experience anything at all. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy! These are the all too common ways, in which, we don’t allow the future to breathe.
Let’s start off by taking a look at what I’m calling future suffocation # 1. I’m talking about our tendency to control every aspect of our future picture, to the point where we blind ourselves from any opportunity to begin actualizing it within the present moment. We sit around and wait and wait for the “universe to provide” the perfect picture or “sign” that replicates the mirror image of whatever we have in our heads, and meanwhile, we don’t even recognize the thousands of avenues that could carry us wherever we’d like to go, and just so happen to start at the very places we are standing right now.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Well, let’s face it, the start of a path always looks different than the end of the road, and too many of us simply want to experience the destination before we’ve allowed ourselves to travel the path. When we don’t experience what we are seeking immediately, we begin to grow anxious about the future and doubtful of our own capabilities. These feelings can get so overwhelming that they begin to distract us from our original intentions, only to further delay us from reaching our goals.
Our culture is, no doubt, very controlling. We run our daily lives from calendars that we frequently check from our handheld mobile devices, and the older we get, we rarely allow ourselves to experience a day that is 100% spontaneous. For goodness sake, we cannot even accept a gift from another human being without it coming from a list or registry that we’ve created for ourselves! I mean seriously, whatever happened to the element of surprise, or giving the world, and the people within it, a sincere chance to present us with new ideas and new possibilities that we could have never imagined by ourselves? The world is a pretty powerful place – just think about what it might have to offer us, if we gave it a little more space to work its magic on our behalves from time to time?
The most heightened opportunities arise when we release control of our perfect images, and trust that the world will present numerous creative avenues to get to wherever we want to go, if we just allow it to breathe a little more. We need to trust in the possibility of our goals without expecting them to get delivered to us in a perfect little package, with a pretty little bow, ordered from our own personal registry at ourperfectfuture.com. News flash – this site doesn’t actually exist… and, yes, I checked : )! Instead of fixating on the final destination, I think we could all stand to be a little more open to what’s offered to us in the here-and-now. The strength of today’s current (no pun intended), can steer us from one thing to another with a lot of purpose and momentum.
Now, onto what I am calling future suffocation # 2. Namely, our tendencies to get so wrapped-up in our own interpretations or assumptions about what’s going to happen, that we predetermine outcomes of the future before they’ve even had the chance to play-out on their own. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about because we’ve all done it. You know, the process of driving ourselves crazy with thoughts of “what if he/she does or doesn’t react this way or that way when I present them with X, Y, or Z?”
Before you know it, you’ve crafted a complete storyline about what you don’t actually know is going to happen : ). Yet, because you’ve spent so much time thinking about the probable outcomes in your head, you’ve already prepared yourself to respond in a manner that is aligned with your preconceived notions of the future. Like them or not, this creates an energetic pull towards those outcomes, and gives the world no choice but to respond to the thoughts and feelings that you’ve already begun to validate with your actions. And, yes, here we are with another self-fulfilling prophecy.
Truthfully, everything works great when the storylines we create are consistent with the truths of what we want, which incidentally, are the only real truths we have. On the other hand, when the outcomes we preconceive are based on our own limiting beliefs about what is possible, we concoct a distasteful recipe for ourselves. Simply put, when we assume something unfavorable will happen because we’ve experienced it before, or interpret a situation through the negative lens of group thinking, or the generalizations of other people, we are crafting unfavorable outcomes before anything has actually happened.
Energy attracts like energy and the world supports our thinking with validating experiences, whether they are limited or limitless. So, when we view our future through the lens of interpretations and assumptions, we simply limit ourselves from experiencing the future in the way we want to. This keeps us closed from experiencing the world beyond our own limited expectations – and, again, leaves the future without oxygen to fuel our dreams and passions with tangible opportunities to make them happen.
So, what’s the remedy to all of this future suffocation that we invoke upon ourselves? Well, a wise coach of mine once advised me with the sage advice to “STOP IT” (thank you Karen Sullivan)! As a glutton of complex thinking, I’m sure you can only imagine the shock, awe, wonder and amazement this profoundly simple answer stirred within me. But, yes, it really is that simple. To get rid of your stress and anxiety about the future, you really just need to stop stressing over the outcomes you fear, and start allowing yourself to focus on the outcomes you want.
When it comes to action, it really all starts with the good ‘ol present moment – it pretty much always does, doesn’t it? Theodore Roosevelt once said, “do what you can with what you have right where you are.” This seems to imply that we accept where we are, at any given moment, and make the very most of it, with whatever is directly in front of us. This requires trust in the idea that you are exactly where you need to be, right now, and nothing else is needed from you, other than a sincere belief in what you want, in order to make the most of any given situation.
Your past and future selves are not going to serve you in the present moment. Tapping into your greatest gifts and capabilities, right now, will. At this very moment, there are a series of stepping-stones, or choices, all around you and right at your feet. They are within attainable reach, and align perfectly with your current capabilities. They each lead to yet another series of attainable steppingstones, which will likewise, align perfectly with your capabilities at that point. The steppingstones may look nothing like your end point; but, they will offer you a solid path to get there, if you just allow yourself to get going. Who knows, you might even experience an unexpected twist to a better storyline, if you allow yourself to widen your perspective of the original visualization.
Loosening-up your expectations of the future will allow it to breathe. And while we are at it, we could all stand to take a deep sigh of relief, because we actually don’t need to know exactly how our future is going to unfold. There’s no need to get anxious about not seeing the perfect visuals right away. What we do need is to trust in the idea that whatever we want is definitely attainable, and thankfully, there are always many avenues for us to get there. At this point, I’ll leave you with a string of wise clichés to reinforce everything that has already been said: trust the process, take it one step at a time, release control of the future, allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised, embrace spontaneity, appreciate where you are right now, and for goodness sakes, chillax already… it’s only the game of life and there’s nothing for you to “get right.” Just live it!