As you start the year, the key question is: How do you plan and design your activities so this becomes one of your most satisfying years ever? Most people make a list of urgent and important things and call it an action plan. In reality, this ends up being nothing more than a long to-do list, one based on fear, hope and duty and not on designing success.
This longer article in an excerpt from my book What Color Is Your Sky? It shows you how I enable a single person, or an executive team, to align and create a proactive plan where priorities are sharply clear, meaningful and simple. It enables you to start creating this ambitious future with a laser-like-focus daily routine that I have called the DMP - The Deliberate Morning Program (see this former article on LinkedIn or find it in my book).
Isolate yourself in a quiet space with a pen and piece of paper, put your mobile phone on mute, and ask people to not interrupt you for a least 30 minutes. This is the first test of your determination ;o) Then follow the steps below.
Reveal the Universe of Possibilities
In my workshops, I ask my audience to take paper and pen and engage in an exercise that I would like you, dear reader, to do as well. Please do it right now, as you read along. it is crucial not just to read but to experience this process.
For the next three minutes, I want you to write down a description of what your life will look like in three years. You can write about your professional life, your personal life, or both.
Now, please draw a line below what you wrote, as you are now going to write something different.
Over the next five minutes, I would like you to write down what your life would look like in three years if absolutely everything that you were to attempt succeeded, if anything that you should need were to be available to you, if you could find ways to eliminate any and all obstacles along the way, if you were to tap all the resources that you need for your projects – if absolutely everything was to work beyond all your expectations: you get the pay raises you want, the promotion you want, you find the partner you’ve al- ways wanted, the problem you’ve been fearing vanishes – if there were no obstacles of any kind. Visualize this new life. What would it look like? What would you look like? What are the feelings you would experience? Who would be the people around you? Visualize all of this and write it down.
Have you described something very different from what you first wrote?
What you wrote the second time reflects your true goals. Achieving those brings you closer to your true purpose. This exercise reveals who you aspire to be, or what you desire to do. The change in behavior that you have described, to be more optimistic, to stop worrying, to be more decisive – to have fun – is to behave in a proactive way, creating your future, making the possibilities become real. And, because you are doing the things that truly matter, you are more daring, happier, and more yourself.
Being optimistic changes your behavior. And because you are more focused and engaged, that vision you have for your future is more likely to happen.
By asking you to set aside any obstacles, you gain a clearer a picture of your real destination. By embarking on this mission to get there, you get closer to your destiny, to what you are meant to do with your life. All you need to do is to start by visualizing your success.
Defining Your Green Curve
Your answer to the first question, how you initially envision your life in three years, reveals what you anticipate will happen, considering your context and its challenges. Some problems will crop up and you will manage to adjust somehow, to cope and persist, and with a little bit of luck you will get there.
This is the Reactive Future. Your future reveals itself as you persist. The drawing below represents the path to the reactive future.
The answer to the second question, how you envision your life might look were you to succeed in everything you do, reveals a future that you have imagined independent of the path to get there, independent of the obstacles and the unpredictable events of life. It is a chosen destination.
It is not subject to your having to accommodate to social, cultural, and/or economic circumstances. It is where you would be were you given the choice. If a path to it existed with certainty, you would not hesitate to embark on that path. This may very well be an expression of your purpose: what you are meant to achieve within this lifetime.
This is the Proactive Future. It is a future that reflects who you are and what you want, from the beginning. The focus is mostly on finding ways to get there, and no longer on how to cope with today’s obstacles. There is no unknown future. You may find yourself becoming obsessed with it.
The drawing below illustrates your new life: The Green Curve.
On the Green Curve, there will be both good and bad events – remember, this is not a fantasy, where no obstacles exist; it is an attainable future, one where you meet obstacles and overcome them, without getting derailed. Eventually, you will enjoy some surprising coincidences, synchronous events, and quantum leaps. The significant difference is that you will be on the right curve for you, climbing the right mountain, heading toward a meaningful destination, and manifesting your purpose, the essence of your company or your projects.
Living on the Green Curve is about living your destiny.
To build your Green Life, you need to design it with the end in mind. You are approaching life solely from the future, no longer from the past, and not even from the present.
I have coined this Reverse-Engineering the Future.
Now I encourage you to do another excercise…
The Visualize Success Practice
Write down a list of past dreams and ambitions you have already accomplished. Acknowledge yourself with no doubt or diminishing judgment. This is only up to you to evaluate, so let go of those negative or doubting voices in your head.
Observe how you felt about each of these realized dreams before they happened. Observe how you feel about them now. You may notice that some of them no longer look like such a big deal now.
Write down the difficulties you experienced in making them happen.
Now, choose an important goal or a particular aspiration you have had for a long time and think of what would bring you a great deal of satisfaction from it: pride, peace of mind, comfort, happiness, memories, connection to your family, balance, etc.
How much do you want this to happen?
How will you feel if it happens? How will you behave when it is done? See yourself in the future. Imagine. Spend quite some time experiencing this feeling as if it has already happened. Visualize your success.
You may note that taking a little bit of time to reflect on your past brings you closer to your feelings and to the value you place on your accomplishments, as the well as the price you paid to make each of these a reality.
Acknowledging what you have accomplished in the past is very important; these are your “small” measured steps up the mountain. It proves to you that you are capable of wonders. It builds in your self-confidence and helps to strengthen your will to achieve those dreams that are still in the works. It also reminds you that you paid a price to realize each of them. New goals can be just as much about achieving more balance in your life as, for example, starting your own business.
Again, permit yourself to write things down without judging, evaluating, or filtering them. Even write down your crazy fantasies as they occur to you.
Doing this generates quite a few positive effects inside your brain: it frees your mind and boosts your creativity when you constantly give yourself full permission. Some of these may need immediate action, and to become a high priority. I recommend that you refrain from sharing these notes with anyone. Be strong. There is far greater risk in sharing these than in keeping them private.
Are you facing transformational challenges in your company?
If you would like to have a quick chat about how we can team up and design your success, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a free case study.
— Hervé Da Costa is the author of What Color Is Your Sky?