We promised them a future, bright and shiny. It was to be one filled with more joy, more prosperity, and more of everything we didn’t have growing up.
We promised them a future, bright and shiny. It was to be one filled with more joy, more prosperity, and more of everything we didn’t have growing up. We did everything we could to keep our promise to them every single day. We promised them the sun, the moon, and the planets and then the world exploded and shifted off its axis and it seems like nothing will ever be the same.
So what happens now?
There’s a popular Chinese proverb that says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” This means that if you want success and growth in the future, the best time to act is now. But what if your now is on hold? How do we plan for the future and fulfill promises we made in the past if we don’t have an idea about what’s coming next? That’s what it feels like during 2020 and next year may bring more of the same.
As a parent we held the baby up high and told him about everything he had to look forward to in the future. Baseball and school and driving a car and so much more. We shared secrets with her about sleepovers and party dresses and school dances and college. We lived vicariously through every new event and took mental notes to ensure our promises to them could be fulfilled. Feeling and acting this way towards our children and grandchildren is hardwired into our psyche.
Working as a classroom teacher for twenty years I promised my students an amazing future based on completing their educations and moving forward with a career that would make them happy. Sharing stories from my own life experiences, we discussed the future in terms of what they would be able to create for themselves.
My precept was that staying focused and maintaining a positive mindset, along with working hard in school would ensure a better life than their parents were living. Most of my student’s had immigrated to the United States from Mexico, El Salvador, and others parts of Central America. Others had been born in the States but did not speak English until they started school at age five or six. I modeled what I taught. Every semester I was enrolled in a college course and shared the details with them. Astronomy, psychology, trigonometry widened their eyes and opened their minds to new possibilities they hadn’t been previously exposed to by anyone else in their lives.
As an entrepreneur I promise my students and those I mentor a bright future, filled with time freedom and financial independence based on creating multiple streams of passive and residual income. Instead of getting stuck in the moment or reliving the past, I encourage them to work each day with their future in mind.
My precept here is that anyone can become an online entrepreneur and that everyone would benefit from having a business on the internet.
I take full responsibility for the future, as I do for my past. Attracting life events and people and results is every human’s superpower, I believe.
As a positive thinker I tell myself every day that this too shall pass. I daydream of traveling abroad again, spending more time with more friends in person, and of not thinking about this elephant in the room throughout each day. It was like this the first time I had cancer. A few months in I wondered aloud, “Will there ever come a day when cancer isn’t the first thing I think about when I wake up?” The answer was yes, and it only happened because I made it a goal.
And as for my thoughts around “We promised them a future” I choose to keep that at the front of my mind at all times, whether awake or asleep so no opportunity will elude me or escape into the atmosphere. The future I promised renews each day. Making it special for each person in my life looks like a sweet message sent and one received back on SnapChat, a text with a flower and a heart, a Halloween card sent through the mail, or a phone call at the end of the evening. I will never be too busy, too tired, too anything because I won’t miss a chance to be a part of their future and move forward alongside them. They deserve everything I say and do, and so much more.
Delivering on a promise is like keeping a secret you will never tell. It comes in pieces over time, like watching a child grow bigger or an adult begin to age. At some point we realize the time is passing us by much faster than we thought.
Their is a poem by Marc Levy called “The Value of Time” that comes to mind here. I’ll share a few lines with you..
To realize the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of one minute, ask the person will missed the train.
To realize the value of one second, ask the person who narrowly avoided an accident.
To realize the vale of one millisecond, ask the person who won a Silver medal in the Olympics.
I’ll add my own here…
To realize the value of the future, take it away for a few months and watch what happens.
The future is a placeholder object for a result that does not yet exist. It is a function of time, hope, and beliefs. This concept is what makes people over think and procrastinate and make excuses instead of taking action and moving forward productively. As Annie sang in the musical, “I love you, tomorrow. You’re always a day away.”
What if we ignore the situation in front of us and instead plan a future based on what has worked well in the past? Stick with me here; I don’t break my promises, but you must meet me halfway. This is a strategy I recommend for everyone, of all ages and from every walk of life.
Here is a “future” strategy to begin with now:
- Identify Your “Big Idea” — Define the right goals for the lifestyle you will design, developing your written plan to reach those goals, and implementing the action steps required to attain those goals can make all the difference between success and a life unfulfilled. If you create and follow a plan, you’ll be more motivated to keep moving when the going gets tough.
- Share your Big Idea with Others — Taking this step is a critical component of goal setting and achieving. When you share your ideas, plans, and goals, you benefit from an instant support network of people who have a vested interest in your savings success. This also leads to conversations and discussions around your goals so that you can access the insight and knowledge you need to achieve them. Finally, it makes you accountable to others for the realization of your goals — a powerful motivator!
- Begin with the End in Mind — Your “Big Idea” must be top of mind at all times. When baseball player Mookie Betts was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February of 2020 he stated that his goal was to help take his new team to the World Series. Due to the pandemic the season was delayed until July, but Mookie maintained his resolve. Every day, as he exercised and practiced, and discussed the game with his teammates he mentioned his goal and the commitment he had made. At some point it was so ingrained in him and the other players that no one was surprised when the Dodgers made it to the 2020 World Series.
- Set Flexible Resolutions — This can be overwhelming if you put them in all-or-nothing terms. Avoid making resolutions such as, “I will go to the gym every morning.” These types of resolutions are so rigid that if you deviate at all from these absolutes, you may feel like a failure. Instead, try setting resolutions that can advance your progress, such as, “I will go out for coffee two or three times a week instead of every day,” or “I will increase the number of times I go to the gym each week.”
- Take Baby Steps Forward — While accomplishing your biggest goals may seem daunting, savings and investment goals become attainable when you take baby steps. As you become more comfortable with saving and investing more, it becomes easier to add new goals to your plan. It will also be easier to sustain the growth you’ve accomplished. Be sure to celebrate your financial success along the way!
- Be Patient — I have become the most patient person I know since starting my business in 2006. Setting goals provides a sense of purpose and direction, but it’s easy to revert to past habits and abandon your resolutions. Rather than give up when your goals feel elusive, use the opportunity to modify your plan by selecting an alternative activity, perhaps by adding another income stream or connecting with a different group or organization. I’m a Rotarian and when I joined Rotary in 2006 a wise member told me to take it day by day so that I could discover the true magic of the members and what could be accomplished.
- Think Strategically — Get used to the concept of “thinking two steps ahead” in your everyday life. Take a small goal and think past the solution and on to what will occur after that. In other words, adopt and embrace the idea that every small thing we encounter is leading us to a future destination.
- Embrace the Struggle — I wrote about this is my book, Rethinking the Work Ethic: Embrace the Struggle and Exceed Your Own Potential. This may include taking some risks, such as reaching outside your comfort zone in terms of opportunities you pursue, or projects you undertake, in order to reach your goals.
- Keep the Faith — Believing that everything will work out makes a difference, no matter what’s going on around you.
Remember, you have time on your side: time to recover and learn from your experiences, and each move you make will become smarter and more strategic. It’s this combination of time and hope and discipline that creates the secret sauce, leading to promises kept and lives fulfilled.