Ah, the future. What to do? How to choose? I want to be successful. Will I be? Will I be happy, have the things I want, live a good life? Being rich and famous would solve everything, right? Or maybe, for those of you who know the song, it’s an attitude of “Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be.”
I’m sure most of you have heard the phrase, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Great advice – if you’re feeling tough. Not so great when you’re second-guessing and flip-flopping over every decision because you’re afraid of making the wrong one, so you don’t make any (which is a decision, by the way).
Sometimes Today is Tough
How do you continue? How do you take that next step? Or do you say, “Screw it,” and hide under your blankets, have another drink, or wonder if you’re done with life?
I remember in my own life how, as a young man, I often I strode in anger, sometimes in fear, down the street or through a mall; looking at others and wishing I had what they had: whether it be a spouse, a family, friends, or things. I was so aware of my “aloneness” and feeling like I had no supports, no one to turn to when I needed them, no one who cared for me in that moment.
And I was supposed to make important life decisions without knowing who I was or what the world expected from me. I think sometimes we’re so afraid of not knowing our future that we let it freeze us in the present.
Trusting the Future is Hard
Have you ever wondered sometimes why you should even try? Why continue when things – life – don’t seem to go your way or work in your favor? Questions I’m sure we all ask…or ignore when things are going poorly and it’s tough just getting through the day.
Whether we’re young, middle, or older adults, we spend a lot of our waking hours looking ahead at something that has not yet been lived, is deliberately hazy, and offers us no billboard announcements of turn here, do this, work here, live there. We don’t know and, of course, we can’t know because it’s not here yet.
There are umpteen million books, courses, speakers, gurus, and even famous people that we can read, listen to, and follow. Everyone wants to help us (mostly) and we can spend all of our time learning from them — but are we? Or do we just move on to “the next great thing” in our search to understand “what am I going to be when I grow up?” (And for you younger readers, this question never goes away, sorry:)
Trusting the future is hard – What about trusting yourself, right now? Because you can have an immediate impact on “now.”
Think About These
You’re not alone.
Even though it seems like you are – and I think every one of us has felt this at different points in our lives – there are others who care and would be surprised that you feel you are on your own. I think we don’t reach out often enough, as difficult as this is to do sometimes. I know, I’ve been there.
You are in control more than you know.
Earlier this year, when I looked back at my life, I wondered two things as I needed to make decisions as a young man:
- Did I let others choose for me?
- Did I take the easy path?
Both examples imply that I did not make a choice; I allowed or just let myself drift from thing to thing. However, when I looked at my choices I realized that they related to things that were important to me, values I had inside that became the reason things opened up and were offered to me. I made the choice to accept them.
What would I tell my younger self? And what would you say to yours?
- Stick with who you are and the decisions you need to make will flow from inside of you.
- Reach out because others know your pain for they have it, too.
- You’re struggling with finding out who you are in this crazy, mixed-up world…and that’s what you’re supposed to be doing so it’s OK.
- Learn how to let what you think and feel on the inside come to the outside.
- Loosen the control you keep on yourself, throw it to the winds..and see what happens.
- Be who you are – do who you are.
- Make the choices you know you should make and live with the results – because the best thing you did was to have made a choice.
- Find joy early.
- Get involved with something that represents your values.
- Do it – don’t couch potato it.
- A small house with love is better than a bigger house with things.
- While career is important, that, and stuff, should not be your number one.
What do I tell myself (and you) today?
- You can’t go on doing what you’ve been doing if what you’ve been doing got you to the unfulfilled place you are today.
- Facebook and other social media don’t have the answers, and yet you continually search for the 10-step plans and the latest self-improvement posts because you’re not happy with who you are or where you’re at.
- You always think you need to be more, do more, have more. You need to stop and know that right now, in this moment, you are enough.
- I now believe we should be seeking self-discovery more than self-improvement.
Write It. Read It. Live It.
“In the themes of our Journals are the themes of our lives.”
I have been a journal writer for over 40 years and when I read back on some of the things I wrote as a young man, I read about my search, my struggle for meaning, my desire to be accepted. And, yes, I read it and still remember the pain of living it.
Journaling is a great way to know where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go. A journal also gives you the insight about yourself that you may not get from your family, your co-workers or the barista at Starbucks.
Things a journal can reveal:
- Write about the person you are; things that are difficult to tell anyone.
- Write your dreams, your aspirations – and your inspirations.
- Know what you value and what line-in-the-sand you will not cross.
- Be that person you write about so that others get a glimmer of you.
- Dare to challenge the low opinions you have about yourself
- Don’t be afraid to write it down – be afraid not to act on the truths you discover about yourself.
- In your words are your actions – acknowledge the fears, the failings, the doubts, and insecurities – And then do something about them!
- OR keep writing the same stuff, never changing, never living you – and never writing the good stuff about who you are and what you do.
We don’t want to screw it up and get it wrong!
This, I think, is why we fear the future, why we see only the fog. We think there’s only one path, one way to do something, one chance to get it right – and that’s where we’re wrong.
I can look back and see forks in my road, where I had a decision to make. Maybe I felt someone made the decision for me or I took the easy path. Maybe I allowed things to happen more than I wished I had. However, in looking back, the decisions were mine to make and…either path would have been OK.
There doesn’t have to be a right path or a wrong path, but there is a path and you will be the one to walk it. Sure, the way looks foggy now but, wouldn’t life be boring if we knew the answers before we asked the questions?
Oh, and by the way, the song, “Que sera, sera” – the answer is, “The future’s not ours to see.”