When it comes to planning the future, most of us are historians.
We all know how it works.
“How are you?”
“Oh, you know… It was a tough weekend and then I had some really tricky stuff to do at work this week and my boss is always a nightmare, so I guess I’m pretty tired.”
It starts with little things. Someone asks us how we are and the answer we actually give is how we have been, not how we are now. What’s wrong with that? It keeps us in the cycle of how things used to be, throwing away any chance of changing them.
We “tell it how it is” – or even worse – “tell it how it was”.
And then we build in another layer – I call it the “I’ll feel happy when…” syndrome.
“I’ll feel happy when I get the job / relationship / payrise / car / home…”
It’s like happiness is a job we’re always putting off to some unspecified time in the future.
We find ourselves repeating the same patterns of behaviour, the same relationship cycles, the same mistakes.
When we worry about how the future might be, based on how the past was, we’re potentially throwing away any chance to make things different next time. We’re experts on our past – historians, analysing where it all went wrong. But that can keep us trapped with things we can’t change, missing out on the chance to steer things in a new direction.
“Worrying is a way of creating a future you don’t really want.”
The problem is simple:
Most of us are too busy being historians to deliberately plan and create our future.
Imagine a life where we actually learn from the past, history doesn’t repeat itself and we move towards our dreams? Imagine finding yourself where you want to be, more often than where you used to be?
Seven Steps To Turning Things Around
- Know what you want
If you don’t know where you want to go, how are you going to get there? How about writing out your wish list for your future as though it really could come true? Then pick one thing at a time to focus on.
- Choose to be the director
Rather than being a historian, how about choosing to be the director of the movie of your future? How about taking control of every thought, feeling and decision? Even tiny changes can have a huge impact.
Daydreaming about what you want is so much more fun than worrying about what you don’t want. And the great news is that it will open up doors, opportunities and coincidences that you could never imagine!
- Catch yourself complaining
If you spot yourself telling the “old story” about how bad things used to be, just laugh! Catching yourself out will stop you talking yourself into a negative spiral and will help you feel happier.
- Tell a new story
If people ask you how you are, tell them the story of how you want / hope things will be, rather than how they were. And if you can’t do that, then don’t tell a story at all!
Things will come up that could drag you back into your past. Yes, “stuff” happens. No one is asking you to believe that things will miraculously change overnight, but hoping is fine. And hope will lead to proof that things are changing, which leads to belief.
- Ask a new question
If you catch yourself going back to the past, you can ask yourself a simple question: “What do I want instead?” Giving your creative attention to that will move your forwards. You might be surprised how quickly that can help you feel happier.