I bet you can remember a time long ago when you had dreams about what your future would look like?
You may have had aspirations of owning your business or being a famous movie director or any number of combinations that probably included living in a location that you love and having a special partner you can share it all with.
Usually we start these dreams of our future in our early teens. They are often big and grand dreams where anything is possible and life appears to be one big candy store with unlimited choice of the dreams we can create.
Then something happens!
At some point during our adolescence we learn that things don’t always go to plan. It may be the exam you failed, or the girlfriend/boyfriend who dumps you, or the job you didn’t get.
It could be an even tougher lesson such as the death of a parent or close friend or relative.
It doesn’t really matter what doesn’t go to plan, the lesson is the same: that life can be hard and you do not have total control over your future. Your present reality is giving you feedback that what you imagined and hoped for did not come true, or something unexpected was thrown into your physical reality that is uncomfortable. This continuous feedback from reality reaffirms for us over time, that we are not the creators of our own destiny.
By the time we leave school we have experienced enough setbacks and disappointment to give up on our dreams. Or we create newer dreams that are easier to achieve so we will not set ourselves up for disappointment.
Reality can be brutal
I get a bit annoyed when I read a self-help book that suggests that we can all achieve all of our dreams if we believe in ourselves enough and imagine the future that we want. The writer proposes that if we believe in it enough we will have TOTAL control over reality.
However, people get cancer, have accidents, and life can throw an incredible amount of disappointments our way that we have little or no control over. The issue is not that things outside of our control happen to us, or to others, it is that we tend to focus on these and give these ‘inconvenient events’ as I call them, more attention than they deserve.
The reality is that we cannot control everything that happens to us, but there IS one thing that we CAN control; we can control OURSELVES and how we react to what happens and what we choose to focus on.
How many times have you complained, or heard friends or family complaining, about the weather? (I do at times because my flight school is reliant on good weather, however I am getting better at accepting things outside my control). We might get five days of beautiful sunshine then two days of rain, but during those two days of rain we will complain about how terrible this weather is.
Life, for many of us, is like this. We tend to focus on the bad things that happen to us and to those around us, and ignore all the wonderful things that happen to us. Focusing on the negative keeps us stuck in the present and stops us from imagining a better future for ourselves.
Like attracts like, and if our focus is on what’s WRONG, then that is all we will see both for our present reality and our future.
Focus on imagining your (better) future
While I was stuck in a job I didn’t enjoy, for many years, I imagined myself owning a flying school and doing work I loved. I did this for about half an hour each day for three years! At the time, all evidence of my present reality suggested that owning a flying school would be impossible. However I chose to focus on what I desired and eventually the flying school materialised. There was many setbacks along the way to realising this dream, however I chose not to focus on these setbacks.
We have more control over our lives than we think. Yes we do not have total control, but does not having total control let you off the hook for trying to improve your life and yourself?
The first step in creating a better life for yourself is to stop focusing on what is not going right with your life, or your friends or family or the world around you. The second step is to start focusing on what you like about your life and start focusing on creating a future that excites you.
From now on I suggest you call all setbacks and disappointments ‘inconvenient events’ (which you can learn from), because that is all that disappointments or setbacks are.
The truth is most inconvenient events are golden lessons that indicate we have something very special to learn about ourselves. The break up of my marriage two years ago was an inconvenient event but now my life is so much richer due to the lessons I learnt about myself (and others) during this time.
So the first step is to stop focusing on your present reality and what is wrong, and to start focusing on what is right with your life and what excites you. I suggest you spend just 10 minutes a day (before bed or first thing in the morning) focusing on what you love about your life and what you would like your better future life to look like.
I guarantee if you do this constantly for one month, not only will you feel good on a daily basis, you will start to notice your present reality changing for the better (even despite the occasional inconvenient event).