What you need to know about creating your future
The Great Recession of 2008 was apparently pretty brutal. It wasn’t that I don’t remember, it was only 12 years ago after all. And it wasn’t that I was too young to feel the full effects. I was in my 30’s, with a job, a mortgage, and a 401k. It’s that we weren’t paying that much attention.
See, we got engaged in May of 2007, started planning the wedding for July of 2008, and spent September of that same year in the Mediterranean. We were living our best lives and oblivious to everything that was happening outside of our happy love bubble.
We didn’t obsessively check our 401K balances or watch the news. We tasted wedding cake, selected music, researched honeymoon destinations, and booked excursions. We didn’t worry about the future because we were creating it.
We didn’t worry about the future because we were creating it.
Creating your future requires a singular focus, good vibes, and rigorous planning. You must be ruthless about what you influences you let into your life. If you’re not, fear, anger, regret, disappointment, and negative energy will prevent you from getting what you want.
Here’s what you need to know…
First things first, let’s address the Coronavirus elephant in the room. You may be thinking that negative feelings are warranted, with what’s going on in the world — health risks, uncertainty, and economic fallout. That’s understandable. Reality seeps in, no matter how powerful your happy love bubble might be. But, it doesn’t have to derail us.
Let me explain.
50% of the country loves Trump. 50% of the country hates Trump. Give or take on the percentages.
If you love him, you’ve already made up your mind. There’s very little he can do to lose your support. If you hate him, there’s virtually nothing he can do to win your favor.
Either way, you’ve likely curated your influences to reaffirm your biases. It was either intentional (watching Fox News vs. CNN, friending and unfriending accordingly) or unintentional (clicking on something that made the platform decide which camp you’re in, in which case you’ve been fed a steady diet of validation for months, if not years).
So, based on your feelings about the President, you likely have felt outraged or satisfied about the state of affairs, a sense of wellbeing or discontent, and experienced embarrassment or pride over the last four years. In short, you’ve allowed an election to influence your perception and color your outlook.
Here’s where it gets a little tricky: The thing is, both sides are 100% legit, 100% valid, and 100% perception. We are all in the same country, having a similar experience, at the same time in history, and yet, we are interpreting it wildly differently.
That’s the first thing to know. Whether we love or hate a leader, the direction the country is headed, or a moment in time, it’s not about the leader, the direction, or the moment; it’s about us. Me. You. What we think and how we are making sense of it. Our perception.
The second thing to know is that whether Trump is your guy, or Obama was, they don’t influence your life unless you let them. Leaders do shape nations, by approving policies, responding to crises, and stacking judicial benches. And, other countries respond favorably or unfavorably through international relations, but for most of us, the President doesn’t directly influence your life unless you let him.
We draw the line from their actions to our lives, we interpret the meaning, and the implications. And if we opt-out by staying about the fray and keeping our cool, no matter what, we’re cool.
Put another way, whether your team wins or loses, how we respond is 100% our choice, and it sets the tone for everything.
And if you can’t dissassociate, or engage about politics without a vein popping out of your neck, you are actively preventing your own best future. That’s a problem.
That may not matter to you at the moment — at the moment, it may feel terrific to prove your point — but it will matter to you at some time. After all, time is all we have, and we have so little of it.
Time is all we have, and we have so little of it.
When you look back, do you want to think, “Wow, I crushed it on the feeling politically outraged scale? I spent so much quality time fired up, provoking arguments. Glad I was alive to do that, win a lot, shout a lot. Definitely didn’t change any minds, but I got a lot of W’s if anyone was keeping score.”
You don’t want that.
You don’t want to miss out on an incredible life because you keep getting pulled into a mediocre one by everything and everyone outside of you that has their reasons for trying to keep it negative.
So, you must let go, whether your guy lost or even if he won.
And that may seem counter-intuitive. Aren’t the losers the ones who are supposed to be sore? What’s there to let go of if your guy won? Well, there’s the desire to be a bad sport, to gloat, or to kick the other team while they are down.
Or maybe your guy, the winner, prefers that you stay in a state of outrage. Perhaps that benefits him and his agenda. That’s a strategy too; it’s divisiveness.
If the President is encouraging you to protest how your governor is handling Coronavirus, for example, while he imposes rules, makes deals, and tweets “liberate”, that’s not just contradictory and confusing, it’s deliberately provocative.
Please know that getting fired up is a form of political engagement, and if you are playing along, you are getting played too.
So, back to the idea of letting go. Curating influences and letting go of negativity might be harder than you thought because you are bombarded every day from every direction. News and media and scrolls and status updates and tweets and links and shares and soundbites and noise surround you, beating you down, but only if you let it.
If you opt out to the idea that you have to listen, that it’s the only way, the noise goes away, and you can hear yourself think again. You can listen to what’s calling to you.
Turn Off the News
Turn off the news. Unsubscribe from anyone or anything that comes into your inbox (or life) that makes you feel like shit. Curate your feed, not to hear a chorus of voices that validate you, but to choose inspiration that motivates you and lifts you to a higher state. If someone in your network sets you off, disengage, but be open to the lesson if there’s one to learn. Diversity is good.
If you feel angry, sad, superior, or inferior, that’s a clue that the person, brand, or influence is not right for you. And, if you feel that vein pop again, consider the source and take a moment to see why you feel so triggered.
It seems a little simplistic, doesn’t it? The idea that if we choose differently, our reality shifts.
If we choose differently, our reality shifts.
There’s an exercise that I sometimes do with my clients that can be a game-changer. I was going to describe it, but it actually might be more beneficial if we do it together right now.
First, take a sheet of paper and write down a very brief description of the following:
- What your morning looked like.
- What yesterday looked like.
- What one day last week looked like.
- What one day last month looked like.
- What one day last year looked like.
You don’t have to go farther back than that. You don’t have to pick the highlights or lowlights. You don’t have to choose specific dates or milestones. In the example below, I just opened my calendar and randomly selected dates.
Once you’ve chosen five dates, briefly describe each day. Include what you were doing, who you were with, where you were, and how you were feeling.
Don’t spend more than 2–3 minutes on each description, or 15 minutes total. Use keywords, phrases, or short sentences. Don’t edit yourself or pressure yourself for a perfect answer.
I’ll share my example.
- This morning, I was in my PJs watching a virtual conference, feeling both inspired and overwhelmed. I have so much to do on the home, business, family, and health fronts, and I’m feeling impatient. I wish I could accelerate the future — I’m so motivated to have a bigger impact in my business — but I’m also really loving this weird stretched time thing going on right now. Life is slower, and I appreciate the closeness with my family and the chance to clarify my goals. I genuinely enjoy building my business.
- Yesterday was hard. It was a long week taking care of my daughter, who was sick, texting back and forth with the pediatrician all week, managing her care virtually, and keeping our family’s other priorities on track too. I was grateful for the doctor’s consistent guidance and looking forward to letting off a little stress by hosting a Zoom happy hour with some girlfriends. Eager to try a new bottle of wine. Yay for little luxuries.
- Last Sunday was Easter. Our kids woke up at 4:45 am to search for eggs. After that early start, we ate breakfast and then went back to bed. Later that day, we called, Facetimed, and shared videos messages with extended family. My husband surprised us by making brunch. It was fun to have special food around all day. We watched Trolls World Tour together, and since it was too cold to play outside, we snuggled and had a dance party. I felt grateful, loved, loving, and hopeful.
- March 17, 2020 was the first day of homeschool. I’m a digital business owner, so I felt optimistic and empowered. I was excited for the kids to learn in new and innovative ways. Plus, to have my babies at home felt like a gift! The best gift ever. I was concerned about managing it all, while working, with my usual responsibilities, but the reward outweighs any anxiety. I worked out that day too and was looking forward to starting a new fitness routine.
- March 17, 2019 was the first day of our spring break trip to Palm Springs. It was also the first time I traveled with our three children and not my husband (or Grandma). Hubby was coming off a business trip and needed to catch up, but he felt a little left out by staying home. We didn’t want to go without him, but it was a super snowy winter and the kids and I needed some sun. Instead of our usual fit-everything-in strategy, we were going to the pool, maybe the zoo, just chilling out and escaping winter. I felt excited about discovering a new destination with the kids.
Now, look at your answers and reflect on what you see. How was your overall mood or emotional state? Did the days feel good? Are your memories happy? Are the five snapshots representative of your life?
Read what you wrote for each day and ask yourself the following questions:
- If I were watching that day on television, maybe as part of a movie or show, would I be into it?
- Would it be engrossing, and would I care about the characters? Or would I be bored by the story or annoyed by them?
Then, think about yourself as the lead.
- Are you playing the role you’re meant to play?
- Are you starring in the right movie?
There are themes you are looking for: Responsibility. Consistency. Alignment. Happiness.
As I said, it doesn’t matter which five days you chose. The only common denominator is you. So, if your sample five days suck, that’s you. If your sample five days are amazing, that’s you. If your sample days are all over the place, you again.
Start with responsibility. You are making choices, choosing to do things and believe things that are shaping your reality. If your life isn’t what you hoped, choose better or do better.
Next, look for consistency. Did you love all five days? Or did you hate all five? Did you like two, dislike two, and are you indifferent on the fifth? Were there any patterns, and if so, are the patterns ones you wish to repeat?
Consistency matters more than we know. Our habits are daily investments in our beliefs about the future.
Next, move on to alignment. Alignment means connection between what you want and what you have. So, look back at the descriptions and ask yourself if they are reflective of what you want.
Is that the lifestyle you want? Are you sharing your life with the people you want to do life with? Is it taking place in the setting that you desire? Are you looking back and feeling grateful, happy, and satisfied or are you looking back and feeling disappointed, regretful, and confused?
If there’s a disconnect between the life you want and what life you are experiencing, it may be negative energy that is preventing you from getting what you want. Again, the solution is to let it go. Consider how often you are choosing something negative.
Finally, look for evidence of happiness. Happiness can show up as success, contentment, love, joy, playfulness, anticipation, discovery, abundance, healthiness, and so much more. Did you describe anything like that? Examining these snapshots, or any five days over time, do you see evidence of happiness?
Are you on track and making the most of your life or are you sad and missing out?
Sometimes it’s hard to examine our lives in this much detail, to take such responsibility, or to see what we’ve unconsciously cultivated. Be gentle on yourself, no matter what comes up.
And if you’re feeling frustrated or resistant right now, but you want change, try this: Pick five days in the future and complete the same exercise. Describe each day in detail, but this time, describe a great day. It can be a little bit better, wildly better, or even the perfect day.
Then, between now and then, observe and catch yourself. If you are slipping into old habits or beliefs, if you are getting lost in negativity or choosing divisiveness, choose better. Curate your influences again and again, until you are in alignment.
Remind yourself that you are creating your future and act in accordance with what you want to happen, not what other people would have you believe.
It may feel artificial or too woo-woo at first, and that’s ok. Living an incredible life is worth moving through a bit of discomfort. You’ll get used to it quicker than you think because you are growing, and we can adapt quite quickly to an upgrade.
When you accept that what you believe and your perceptions shape everything, and if you keep it high vibe, and choose better, it’s going to get really really good for you.
It’s going to get really really good for you.
Feeling good may even start to come naturally. And when it does, that’s when even more good things start to happen effortlessly. It’s the sweet spot, and it’s even better than you can imagine.