“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” — Marcus Aurelius.
The future never happens the way you want it to or picture it. It can be close, but the subtle nuance of life — decision making, influences, and circumstances — will find their way into your plans.
So how do you deal with the future?
I don’t have the perfect answer. I have what I’ve learned and what I’ve done.
Maybe there isn’t a way to create a perfect future, but there is a way to do the next best thing.
The Counterintuitive Strategy For Building a Better Future
Billionaire business owner Charlie Munger says “he wants to know where he is going to die” so he never goes there. His point being that avoiding stupidity is a better strategy than trying to be smart. He refers to this process as inversion.
The writer and philosopher Nassim Taleb refers to a similar idea known via negativa, which means a life of subtraction. Taleb was an options trader. In his profession, mistakes can be costly. He set up his entire career and life to avoid risks that could cause a level of harm he couldn’t overcome.
Trying to predict the future is futile. Perhaps becoming intelligent enough to build a perfect future is too. Instead, let’s consider removing the ideas, beliefs, and actions that have been known to ruin futures.
I talk about this process in detail in my book. I believe we came into this world perfect, but as time goes on influences around us add layers to our personalities without our permission. The process of reinventing yourself happens when you unravel these layers and remove the ones that don’t fit.
Do any of the following sounds like you? You might be ruining your future without even noticing it…
Use the Future Killing Word
Remove this word from your vocabulary and watch yourself and the world around you change.
Can you guess this future killing word?
I’ll give you a second. Got your answer?
The word is…eventually.
Look, I’m not one of those people who will order you to follow your dreams, but I will say this — one of the few things most people regret in life is their inaction. I’ve launched products that failed and written blog posts nobody read, but I don’t regret those actions. I regretted waiting six years to pen my first words after I considered being a writer. I imagine I’ll regret the things I don’t do more than what I’ve done, which is why I try to remove procrastination when it comes to things I care about or want to pursue.
The thing about the word eventually is that it gives you the comfort of ambiguity. You’ll never know if you could’ve succeeded, which sucks, but you also never know if you could’ve failed.
In the short run, it feels nice to avoid failure, but in the long run, inaction always bites you in the ass. Always.
The long run is like a boxing match. You keep telling yourself “eventually” using it like a jab against your future. You can fend off the future with “eventually” for a while.
Then, in round 12, the future comes and knocks you the fuck out.
You kept saying you’d work out eventually, but now you look up to see you’ve gained thirty pounds.
You said you were going to find a new job eventually, but you just received your ten-year company plaque.
I don’t know what you’re putting off, but it’s waiting for you to lower your guard, and it will crush you.
It will crush you when you look back on your life in its waning moments. Maybe I’m being overdramatic or maybe I’m right.
It’s up to you to decide.
Worry About Other People’s or Society’s Opinions
“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.” — Marcus Aurelius
I’m biased. We all are. I have my own unique view of the world that makes it impossible to be objective. But I feel like I’ve chosen my biases now, whereas I used to feel like they were assigned to me.
For a while, I believed what I was told about what to believe and how to behave.
Things like “You must get a college degree or else you’ll flip burgers” or “Play it safe. Find a good job with a nice salary, health, and dental. Everything will be fine.”
I’ve since stopped believing those things, not because I’m a rebel, but because I just didn’t think they fit my definition of the life I wanted to live.
I always felt this deep down, but to articulate and act on it took time and effort. Time of reflection — looking at both sides of arguments to see which side made more sense. Time to create my “evil plan” and work mostly in silence because opening your mouth too early can do more harm than good.
Now I invite you to create your own vision of what life is supposed to be like. It doesn’t matter what it is, just make it yours. Even if the people around you mean well, they can’t live your life. They have no skin in your game. You’re the only one that does.
Follow someone else’s opinions without questioning them, and you’ll end up living someone else’s life.
Expect the World to be Fair
I suggest you make the following assumptions:
- The people around you aren’t going to change — your spouse, your friends, co-workers, etc.
- There won’t be a dramatic change in your life that will benefit you greatly without work, e.g., a sizable minimum wage raise
- You will not be greatly fairly by the world or other people 100 percent of the time (not even close…start at the other end of the spectrum)
- Your ducks will never align themselves in a row.
I wish the world was fair. I wish politicians, lobbyists, and uber-wealthy corporation owners cared about us.
It would be great if everyone was treated equally and fairly. I wish a sign would appear from the heavens telling you exactly what you should do with your life.
I wish things were easier for you. Hell, I wish they were easier for me.
But I gave up a wishing a long time ago. I’m more into doing.
If the world around me won’t change, I have to change.
If someone has a head start on me, I’ll either run faster, or better, realize I don’t have any competition but myself.
Complaining isn’t a strategy. I do not say that to be mean, but to be frank. It doesn’t do anything.
You can wait for the world to be a better place or for your circumstances to fall into place the way you want them to.
Good luck. I wish you the best.
Wow This Sounds Negative, Doesn’t it?
I’m all for positive thinking and positive action, but oftentimes we move forward carrying unnecessary weight — the weight of other people’s opinions, our own limiting beliefs, and distorted views of the world.
I want you to become the person you’re supposed to become.
But which do you think is easier, Guessing the vague positive moves or avoiding the clearly negative ones?
I want you to soar, which is why I’m attempting to clear the skies for you.
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