A Field Guide to Life – The Practice of Creating an Exceptional Future

by Brad on February 26, 2013

This installment of A Field Guide to Life invites you a new level of potential in your life – the ability to create the future you’d love to experience. By practicing your power to envision, you open yourself to a new world. 

 

Practices for Creating an Exceptional Future

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”         – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

We put a lot of energy into thinking about the future. With imagination, we can plan, desire, fear, predict, avoid or dream a vast array of possibilities. All of these start with a perspective that the future is a time and place very distant from now. In my mind, this long-term view creates needless struggle. Here’s why I say this, along with a way to see and think about tomorrow that may free you from much of life’s struggle.

First, we’re very bad at long-term planning or predicting, especially when it comes to things that are inherently uncertain. Stop for a moment and look at your jobs, relationships, health, finances, dreams or happiness. Are things going now just as you’d planned or predicted some time ago?  It’s kind of a problem, then, with ample evidence to the contrary, that we still believe we can control how it will all turn out – way out there.

FoxSecond, we seem to forget, or ignore, that to arrive at a future place and time, we must pass through today, and tomorrow, and the day after, etc. It’s almost as if our planning would have us “dropped into” some future world. (Everything will be OK when …)  By thinking that way, even unconsciously, we forget that what happens today matters.

Third, because the long term is a place we can’t impact directly right now, we tend to use the current moment mainly to worry our way to the next moment. This serves to deny us altogether of the meaningful experience or potential this moment offers. If we keep doing this, moment after moment, we never arrive at a place we love, because we keep missing the experience of love while lost in worry about what comes next. There is no future there.  

Here’s a new light to shine on old thinking. You don’t predict or plan your future; you create it. The path to your future cannot be laid out ahead of time; you create it as you walk. I suggest that the walking is your future; it happens right now. Seeing life this way, the future becomes a set of “fully experienced present moments,” strung together one after another. It’s this experience that creates a life you love. An extraordinary life is not one with all the drama of a Hollywood movie (unless that’s what you want). Rather, it’s about your ability to experience the extraordinary, in each [ordinary] moment of life.

How, then, do you experience the present in a way that creates a thriving future? You learn to see and think about the present in new ways.  This series of practices asks for a level of thinking broader than the thinking you use to get through an ordinary day. You may find you need more “calm persistence” or perhaps the services of a coach or guide; I offer that help should you desire.

Create the life of your dreams:

  • Begin with the present moment: Three ingredients, folded together through the practice of “becoming” each one, define the recipe for a remarkable future. (1) non-judgmental awareness of what’s going on right now; the present is the “seed” from which you grow tomorrow. Practice: quietly notice each present moment; awareness spawns deep personal experience; (2) your innate creative genius (who you truly are; what matters most to you); your essence is “fuel” to help the “seed” germinate. Practice: choose actions in this moment based on your own truth; that energy transforms this moment into the next moment; (3) the information flow (feedback) inherent in the experience of life that tells you how things are going; feedback “guides” your next steps. Practice: listen to what your experience in the present tells you about your next steps. That’s a very different approach than planning those next steps ahead of time, from a disconnected, far-away vantage point. These three ideas, cemented by the practice of being them, represent a huge shift of perspective for most people. Letting go of old beliefs is scary stuff, even if you never knew the beliefs were false. The courage to trust your own powers of awareness and creativity in each moment (which is what these three practices offer you) can have dramatic impact, both on how you experience today and on the quality and meaning of your future.
  • Observe your future as a movie: In the earlier practice, “Observe your life as a movie,” you were the audience in your life’s story up until now. But you’re also the director (it’s your life, remember). Being director affords even more separation between you and your life, so you can see and create with less attachment to details. Because your life is a work in progress, you’re free to write the story any way you like. As any movie director knows, anything can come next. You simply change the script, creating a story that evokes your greatest potential. This is not about planning or predicting a future, but about giving your dreams energy, so they have ‘space’ to manifest. Sit quietly in a place where you feel inspired. Using your imagination, imagine your future as a movie, a story you’d love, with you as its star, living the life of your dreams, the life that evokes the heart, soul and spirit of the “you” you may never have dared to expose, even to yourself. Imagine where and how you live, how you relate to others, your community of love and support, and making a great living doing exactly what your heart and soul love most. Do this exercise regularly, each time adding detail and making changes as you wish (as director, you have this power), embedding the script in your imagination as a bold, full-color adventure of the life you’d love. Don’t stop until you fall in love with the movie you’ve created. Don’t stop then, either. Just keep loving your movie by giving your attention to it. This isn’t Hollywood, so you don’t have to sell 50 million copies; you need sell only one – to yourself. A regular practice of envisioning your future this way creates energy that pulls you toward it, manifesting the movie as your reality. The greater the clarity and energy of your vision, the greater the energy to manifest a future that matches.
  • Envision “what’s possible now”: By “showing up” in your movie each day, vividly imagining it, you create conditions for it to manifest. You began this with the ‘movie of your future’ exercise. You can also envision individual pieces of life, and at any time scale. As you stop several times each day to examine your thinking, notice whatever you’re doing when you stop (a project, planning a vacation, dreaming about the week ahead, worrying what will happen next, fretting over how relationships will turn out, wondering if you’ll get the job you want, or how a tough conversation will go). Now create a bold picture in your mind of exactly how things could be right now if you were living your authentic power to create the extraordinary. Trust that your inner self will know what to do here. Create a picture of things going extraordinarily well, a “mini-movie” of this moment. The more you envision “what’s possible now,” the more you create “what’s possible now.” With practice, you’ll soon be able to envision the next moment while you are in this moment. This means that not only will you be able to see yourself being yourself, as it happens, but now you’ll also be able to choose exactly how you want to be in the very next moment, then be it. You’ll actually come to see each of your beliefs, thoughts and words before they impact you, correcting on the spot so as to choose how life goes for you … in each moment.
  • “Language” an extraordinary future: Early in life, we learn about language mainly as a tool to describe. We evaluate, design, name, compare and understand. All deal with “what is.” We learn little, however, about language’s power to create, to invent “what isn’t.” Using language in new ways may feel awkward, so this power of language often goes untapped. The premise of this practice is that a “language of the future” can bring that future into being, through the act of speaking it. Here’s an example, and a practice you can take on as a way to invoke this power in your life. The primary language structure here is the declaration. A declaration is a statement of your intention that something that isn’t true today become reality. Because it hasn’t yet occurred, it will involve new invention. And because invention is uncertain, (it hasn’t been invented yet), you’re not sure how you will make it true. All you do know is that you will commit yourself to its fulfillment. A declaration I make about my own work is, “I’m here to change the way people think … about themselves, others, life, work and the world.” I cannot promise exactly how it will happen, or when, or what it will look like when it does. Yet I can promise that I will devote my energy to its happening. Key here is that you create energy to power your journey of commitment, by virtue of declaring it so. In the past, you wouldn’t make such a statement without knowing how. Now, however, you use a declaration to create the how! For whatever you have discovered, through all your personal practice, about what matters most to you in life, make a declaration (in the form, “I WILL …”). State it with the bold intention of your own truth. By “living in” the energy of your declaration, day after day, you will feel the power it offers you to propel you toward it.

 

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