One of the exercises I go through with people during my seminars is to think back five years or ten years. Let’s pick a nice round number, like 2005. That’s seven, almost eight years ago.
Where did you live?
Was it the same house?
Did you drive a different car?
Did you go to work at a different place?
Did you hang out with different friends?
Has your personal (love) relationship changed?
How old were your kids? What grade?
What was your biggest spare-time activity?
What was your favorite TV Show? Song?
What kind of phone did you have?
Did you have pets? The same pets as today?
Did you go to the same religious services?
What was your favorite restaurant?
Where did you go on vacation?
Please take a minute and really think about that. It is completely possible for everything in your life to be different in the next seven years. Everything. You could live in a different place, work at a different office, drive a different car, have different friends, be in a different relationship, etc.
Some things just will change no matter what you do. You’ll be seven years older. Your children will be seven years older. You know you won’t have the same phone or computer! You’ll probably have different pets, a different car, different hobbies, and vacation in a different place.
The lesson is: Lots of change is going to happen in a very short period of time.
And the important thing is, most of that change will take place whether you LET it happen or MAKE it happen. Your intentions have a huge role to play in creating your new future. You can plan almost everything on that list. Your age . . . well that’s just going to be what it’s going to be. But your car, your house, your friends, your hobbies. Those are all within your control.
Here’s an exercise I went through recently in my morning Quiet Time. I had been pondering what my life used to be like. A little nostalgia maybe. And I started wondering about the things that used to be important but simply aren’t important any more. Some of these actually fall into the category of “facts” that used to be true are not true today.
So try this exercise in three parts. To be fair to yourself, you might dedicate three days of Quiet Time to this.
First, make a list of things you believed to be true five years ago. This doesn’t have to be profound. A good way to get started is to think about your day. Look back on your former life. You wake up in your bed and begin your day. Maybe you make coffee, chat with your spouse, get the kids up for school. Whatever it is, write down the things that were true then.
Five years ago my daughter was 15. She didn’t have a drivers license. She was in high school. My house was worth a LOT of money. My monthly income was $_____. My yard was beautiful but a lot of work. I enjoyed my patios almost every day. I had written three books with great difficulty and my speaking business was just starting.
All of those things were true. I believed my house was important. My marriage was important. My daughter’s high school and driving and graduation were things I thought about every day. In my head were many “truths” about who I was, what my life was like, and where the world was going.
I defined myself as a computer consultant. I was also an author and speaker, but those were secondary.
Second, make a list of things you believe today. Maybe the same technique will work. For me, it’s now true that I don’t need to own a house. I don’t need a big stock portfolio. I can write books non-stop (as long as I sit my butt down and write). My daughter is still the center of my life, now 20 and moved out.
My marriage ended quite suddenly. My truth around that today involves accepting that I can be happy without that marriage. That didn’t used to be true. Now it is.
Today I define myself as an author and speaker. I am also a computer consultant, but that is secondary.
Finally, make a list of things you might believe five years from now. Will you believe you’re five years closer to retirement? What will you believe about your self-image, your career, your relationships, and your children?
What will you believe about your money and your success? What will you believe about what you “need” in life to be happy? What will be important to you? What will you care about? What will you believe about friends and family?
Remember, today is simply what “is” at this moment. Truth – reality – will be different in the future. And just like everything else, you can create that future. You can choose what you will believe. You can formulate the reality of your life as it evolves.
Beliefs are not really any different from the other things in your life. A physical thing like a car will age five years and may be replaced in the next five years. And a mental/emotional belief will also age five years, and my be replaced at some point in the next five years.
The primary difference is that physical things can be replaced and be gone. One day you can trade in your old car for a new car. After that moment, the old car is gone and the new car is simply there in your driveway every day.
Emotions and beliefs don’t change that quickly. But they can change just as completely. It might take you a year or more to stop believing in one reality and accept a new reality. Luckily you have experience with this! You used to define yourself as as kid, as a student, as a newbie in the workplace, etc. You have been many people in this lifetime and you will be many more in the future.
Lucky for you, you get to create the new you whenever you want.