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Success Harmony Newsletter
"FUTURES TO FOCUS ON"
I heard it said that, given a choice between finding a lost $100 and
spending time to make an additional $100, people will spend a disproportional
amount of time in looking for the lost $100, even if they could have made
far more during the same amount of time. In other words, fear of loss
is still a far greater sense of motivation for most of us than the hope
for something greater.
And yet, we need to trick our brain to overcome this tendency if we ever
hope our circumstances to change for the better.
The January 2004 issue of Fast Company had a short article by Bill Joy,
founder and former chief scientist of Sun Microsystems. The article finished
with a quote by him, "We have to encourage the future we want rather
than trying to prevent the future we fear". The quote reminded me
of standing at the top of the Austrian Alps as a teenager, as my family
was about to escape from communism into freedom. I was 16 years old and
I really did not want to go. Well, at least not at that time. As a concept,
it didn't seem like a bad idea to live in the free world. But it meant
abandoning the only life I had known up until that point: my friends (ever
so important to a 16-year old), all family except my Mom who was with
me on the trip, a boyfriend who didn't even know I would be leaving, my
swim team buddies, the apartment we lived in, the fields and forests my
dog and I used to run around in, the language I spoke and everything else
I had experienced so far.
What were we leaving it for? We had some vague idea that life on the
other side of the Iron Curtain would somehow be better, that we would
be able to express our thoughts freely without fear of persecution, that
we would be able to choose our means of work and the means of our rewards,
that maybe one day we might be able to have a pretty house with a backyard
and a car, and that we would finally experience appliances like dishwashers
as well as odd conveniences like pizza delivery that we had only seen
in a few of the American movies that made it to communist Czechoslovakia.
Unfortunately, despite of those vague ideas, we really didn't know. On
the one side of the border, there was a sense of certainty, albeit one
that included many things we didn't want. On the other side of the border,
there was nothing but uncertainty, albeit one filled with great hope.
I recall facing two images of alternate future realities at one point
soon after crossing the border line. In one, I saw myself with my friends
back at home, enjoying and laughing together. I wanted that reality very
badly. I didn't want to lose it. Then I got another image, further into
the future. My Mom and I were talking to each other about 20 years into
the future, back in communist Czechoslovakia. According to this image,
we got scared, gave up and went back home, thinking we'll try another
time, when it would be safer - but that time never came. Nothing had changed
and we forever wondered "what would have happened if only we hadn't
given up back at the border line." I wasn't enlightened enough to
bring up these images consciously. They just happened but that was when
I made my painful choice to step into the unknown, to embrace the future
we had wanted to create.
I have had many times since that day when those two images would come
up in my mind when I was about to make a choice. One image would be of
what I already had, of what I was afraid to lose. Sometimes the only thing
I was so desperately to hang on to was the "evil we know is better
than the evil we don't know" kind. The other image would be of what
I was trying to create. The choices are never easy. Sometimes, the better
choice is to leave the current situation and start anew. Many times, the
better choice is to stay and enrich what is already there. In either case,
the images of the alternate future realities make it easier to answer
the most important question, "IN WHICH SITUATION AM I MOST LIKELY
TO ACHIEVE MY DREAMS?" With that question answered from the heart,
obstacles become something to deal with, not something causing us to give
up. Do we always make the "best" decision this way? Only hindsight
can tell that. But what we can always say is that we made the best decision
given the information available at the time. That means, we regret much
less and are much more optimistic, even if something doesn't work out
as easily or as quickly as we hoped.
What are your dreams? What situation will most likely help you achieve
them? Will it be through your current job, with your current spouse (or
lack of one), with your current ways of thinking, in the current environment
you live in? Are there only minor adjustments to be made or do you need
to make some drastic changes to accomplish what you want?
For example, if financial freedom is part of what you dream of, will
a job at Walmart or McDonald's be sufficient to get you there, or will
you need to spend some of your spare time upgrading your skills or perhaps
starting your own business venture that could get you there? If you dream
of a happy working environment and yours is full of gossip, suspicion,
and hierarchical "you will do as your boss says to do" orders,
can you do something to influence your current environment to be more
positive, or is the environment so entrenched that moving on is a better
choice? In either situation, don't look at your current situation in isolation.
You may be in a situation that feels great now but leads you to a horrible
future. Or you may be in a situation that is tough now but gets you to
where you want to go. So, whatever you are facing, look far into the future
and ask away. "What do I want? Which situation do I need to be in
now so that I get there?" And then take a few deep breaths and step
across the border line. Right into the unknown, the place where dreams
Happy journey, sunshine and smiles,
"Life shrinks or
expands in proportion to one's courage."
are told that talent creates its own opportunities. But it sometimes seems
that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own
"Do something today which
the world may talk of hereafter."