What do you want your life to look like one year from now? Five years from now? A decade from now? What do you want your body to look like? What do want to achieve? How much money do want to have? What do you want your relationship/marriage to be like?
We are very good dreamers. We have thoughts about what we want life to look like, be like, and feel like. There are two problems that we have in regards to thinking about our future. First, our thoughts are vague. Wanting to be in good shape is not the same as wanting to weight 145 pounds, have 15% body fat, be working out four days per week, and maintain lean muscle mass. Wanting to have a lot of money is not the same as committing at least 10% of your earnings to a pre-planned investment strategy, being debt-free, having a net worth of $1 million, and having enough cash to cover three months of your expenses in the case of an emergency. Setting goals starts with dreaming, but the more specific you can be, the more likely that you will achieve those goals.
The second problem I regards to thinking about our future is that we don’t think long-term. Our behaviors are inconsistent with our dreams and goals. We want that loving, passionate, fulfilling relationship, but we don’t take the actions today that lead to that incredible relationship tomorrow. We think about and long for that coveted position high up in company, but don’t take the actions necessary to move up the ladder to get there.
The two problems holding people back from living the life of their dreams–the lack of clarity and detail and the inconsistency between our behaviors and those dreams, can be solved with one thing… beginning with the end in mind.
One of my all-time favorite books (and one I’ve recommended more than any other) is Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit #2 is “Begin With the End In Mind.” While all seven habits are powerful, I believe this might be the most important. Why? Because, as humans, we have an incredibly unique ability, and that is to visualize the future. Our minds have this amazing capability of imagination. This allows us to anticipate, create, design, and even experience feelings of an imagined future.
All great inventions, creations, and designs started in the mind. We have this ability to look ahead and think about what we want, where we want to be, and how we want to feel.
You can look at your behaviors, actions, and habits now and anticipate where those are likely going to take you. If they are not the behaviors, actions, and habits necessary to take you where you ultimately want to go, you can change them. Simply put, if you change them, you will alter your direction in life and improve the odds that you will end up where you want… if you do not change them, then it should be no surprise that you end up in a place you’d rather not be.
If you want to be financially free and abundant, yet spend more than you make, fail to invest, and have no financial plan, you are destined to fail. If you want to be the top sales person in your company, yet show up late, leave early, are insincere, and do no advanced and ongoing training, you will never achieve that goal.
Take some time, even a moment, and think about the most important things to you in life. What do you want those things to look like down the road… a week from now, a month from now, a year, five years, ten years from now? Now start planning, visualizing, feeling, and acting in ways that will make those dreams a reality. I don’t know that everyone can have everything they want in life, but I know for sure that you can have a life that is better than it is now. And I believe you can have a balanced, full, adventurous, loving, and happy life, but it starts by Beginning With the End in Mind.