40 Questions We’re Afraid to Ask – #20
Hmmmm . . . daily actions . . . five years . . .
At first glance, you may be thinking this is going to a post about goal setting. Well, not to worry . . . for several reasons . . .
- I admit . . . yes I do admit . . . I’ve never been much of a goal setter myself. I mean, it was like pulling eye teeth for my grade school teachers to get me to write an outline! But that’s okay . . . I wrote (a little bragging here) what was considered one of the finest Master’s theses to come out of my graduate school without ever doing an outline — I just did the research and then started writing. It simply flowed. For better or worse, that’s how I’ve lived much of my life, and along with the challenges, it has brought one wonderful, unexpected surprise after another. Obviously I would not recommend that process for everyone, but it worked extremely well for this writer.
- There are already far too many books, articles, CDs, DVDs, etc., etc., ad nauseum out there about goal setting — many by authors and gurus much more fit than I to provide advice on the subject. (I know . . . that must sound strange coming from someone who is putting himself out there as a “life coach” — a term for which I am perpetually researching a viable alternative.)
- Most important . . . I really don’t think goal setting is what this twentieth question in the series is all about, anyway.
Let’s go back and take another look at that question . . .
Based on my current daily actions,
where should I expect to be in five years?
Maybe you’re one of those people who is truly happy in life at this moment, and you really don’t give much thought to where you’ll be in five years. Believe it or not, I think that can be a wonderful situation in which to find oneself. Remember the first question we asked in this series . . .
If today were the last day of my life,
would I want to do what I’m doing today?
The question is not about where do I want — or plan — to be in five years. It’s an inquiry into what I’m actually doing with my life from day to day and in what direction my daily actions are taking me. There’s a huge difference here. I may have all kinds of visions and desires and goals for the future. I may have even gone so far as to set out those goals in one month, one year, and five year increments. But what I am actually doing on a daily basis is what will determine where I’ll be when those dates arrive, not the plans I’ve made — if any.
Our modern Western society has gotten so hung up in setting goals, trying to succeed, working to acquire, planning for the future, and so on, that we have totally forgotten how to live in moment and simply enjoy life . . . right now . . . and in the process we have created an awful lot of stress for ourselves and others, which in turn has led to a lot of mental and physical ailments such as depression, anxiety, heart disease, and even cancer, just to name a few. So if you’re one of those people who is able to live in the now and thoroughly enjoy life , more power to you! You are among the few. In many cultures —especially more primitive ones where people are still connected to the earth and nature — the idea of planning for the future is not even a concept. Even the New Testament talks about not worrying about tomorrow, since tomorrow has enough troubles of its own.
Now, I’m not advocating the total dissolution of ideas such as planning for the future and setting personal goals. I sincerely believe there is a place for that, and certainly there are situations in which we absolutely have to make plans and work toward carrying them out. I have to shop for groceries so there’s food on the table, I have to look for a new place to live because my job it taking me to another city, and so on, and so on. Even so, most people simply seem to sleep through life, operating on autopilot, going from one routine to the next, one day to the next, doing well just to get by. There are those who, for whatever reason, have absolutely no ambition — or it may be they’ve just been beaten down so much by life, they’re afraid to think about it.
Whatever your situation, the fact remains that what you and I do on a daily basis, how we respond to opportunities that present themselves, whether or not we create opportunities for ourselves, what decisions we make in particular situations, and so on, is what determines our future.
The photo I used at the top of this article, I think, gives a whole new meaning to what the great Yogi Berra was famous for saying . . .
When you come to fork in the road, take it!
We come across forks in the road every day. Those forks may require a decision on what direction to take, or they may be more like literal forks just sitting there waiting for us to pick them up and run with them, or just pass them by and go along our merry way. We may choose to be oblivious to them, or we may choose to stand there and look at them until they disappear into the past. But they’re there, all along the road of life. They may be so small and unnoticeable that we totally miss them, or we make choices without realizing it, based purely on instinct and our unconscious past .
Perhaps you do have desires for the future but just don’t know where to start. It may be helpful for you to go back and peruse the series I did some time ago on “5 Steps to Prosperity and Abundance“. It’s not just about money and success. It’s about our relationships, places and things we’d like to explore, adventures we’d like to take, new experiences we’d like to have . . . whatever.
So . . . based on your daily actions, where do you expect to be in five years? Where do you expect to be a year or a month from now?
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