Your ideal life 5 years from now: What’s it gonna be like?

What’s your ideal life 5 years from now?

It’s a question that most of us probably associate with job interviews. And maybe that one time we were at that retreat where we did that exercise where you had to, well, describe your ideal life 5 years from now.

The sad truth is, most people don’t plan ahead that far. In fact, I doubt that most people even have a plan for the next ONE year of their life.

Why is that sad?

Because it’s a waste of potential.

These are some things which you should know by now, whether through your own experience or not:

If you schedule something, there’s a much higher chance of getting it done than if you didn’t schedule it. We have calendars for a reason. It’s because we do a lot of important stuff which unnecessarily takes up more or less critical amounts of our mental energy. — Lest we get it out of our heads and onto paper, or any document of sorts.

 

“Well, I was all outta paper, and I left the charger at home, so…”

Apart from having freed up mental energy, getting our ideas out onto paper has another benefit — of increased accountability towards ourselves. Our thoughts is only one, often highly intangible version of our idea. But the written word brings clarity through its visibility, making our ideas much more tangible and compelling.

So the good thing is, when we PLAN something, it works the same way.

And when we map out our lives for the next 5 years, then, the likelihood of those 5 years playing out like that becomes much higher. Because we’ve effectively just added an extra layer of accountability.

But I don’t KNOW where I wanna be in 5 years!” Sure you don’t.

But here’s the funny thing…

– You know what you’d like to be doing in your spare time. Maybe it’s more of what you’re already doing; maybe you wanna add something else to the mix.

– You also know what you’d like to be earning, if nothing else then just a LITTLE bit more than you’re earning now. Don’t lie.

– You have a certain idea of how you’d like to live. Maybe it’s your current place that just needs some fixing up. Maybe it’s a whole other apartment or house, and maybe it’s in another city.

– You also have some ideas about what you’d like to be doing for a living. Maybe it’s your current job, or maybe your current job is just a pivot point towards your ideal job.

– You also have a pretty good picture of what you’d like your relationships with your friends and family to be like. Maybe you wanna see more of some, and maybe less of others. And maybe you’re missing having more friends than you do. Maybe you miss having a special someone, or maybe you’d just like to fix things up with your current one.

So…

I wage that you absolutely DO know what your ideal life 5 years from now would look like.

If you claim otherwise, you simply aren’t aware of it. — Possibly because there’s a part of you that won’t allow you to think in terms of actually getting what you want out of life.

No, but you don’t get it; I really DON’T KNOW what I wanna be doing!

Well, then here’s where I’d like to put a gun to your head.

 

Your ideal life 5 years from now will hopefully not look anywhere like this.
“Raymond! You’re going to die.”

Are you either A) the latest reincarnation of the Buddha, or B) literally getting ready to kick the proverbial chair? No? Well, then there’s something you want which will take years to accomplish.

Maybe it feels like you don’t know. But chances are, you’re simply scared of admitting it to yourself.

And here’s another thing…

For millions of years, our primal ancestors have survived predators, ice ages, and armed conflicts. While keeping their families safe and fed, and evolved to highly intelligent beings. Capable of building entire civilized societies, dreaming up mind-boggling philosophical concepts, creating a multitude of visual and auditory art, and examining ourselves and the world through highly advanced life-enhancing technology…

… And here you are. The pinnacle of human evolution, making it as one out of 250.000.000 sperm cells. And you “don’t know what you wanna do with your life”?!?

Seriously, fuck you.

But I didn’t have any influence on any of those things!

No. But you have influence on what you do RIGHT HERE AND NOW. And that’s the only 100% certain influence you’re ever gonna have. So quit squandering it by trying to cop out like that.

For all that’s good and great in the world, don’t let your ideas and wishes remain in your head. It’s only fear keeping you from carrying them out.

And if you allow your life to be guided by fear, things aren’t exactly gonna look up for the rest of your time here on this planet.

We’re here once, and theoretically, it could be the end any minute. The next 5 years are gonna go by whether you want it or not. So we might as well use them to level up instead of settling for less than we’re worth.

And no matter where you’re at in your life, you really, really have powers the likes of which you’ve never dreamt.


THOUGHT EXPERIMENT:

If you could have it all your way, what would your ideal life 5 years from now be like? What would you be doing? With who? Where and how would you be living? How much would you be earning?

1) Open a new document, or get some pieces of paper and a pen.

2) Set aside 15-20 minutes to write out your ideal life 5 years from now. Try to think big — go a little nuts with it!

3) Then go back one year, to 4 years from now. How would things need to look in 4 years if you’re gonna live your ideal life in 5 years?

4) Repeat until you’ve gone back to 12 months from now. How would things need to look by then?

5) Now, go back to the 6-month point. How would things need to look by then?

6) Do the same for the 3-month and 1-month points.

7) When you’re down to having set the status for the next month, do it for the next four weeks.

8) With the status for the next week clear in sight, plan out the next week day by day.

9) Lastly, think of just ONE thing that you can do right now to get started.

10) Congratulations; you’ve just put yourself ahead of +90% of the world’s population.

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Facing your fears: Here’s why you need to do it

Facing your fears is also about doing what's necessary, no matter what.Facing your fears can be hard, and you all probably know it.

In fact, show me someone who claims to have fear of nothing, and I’ll show you defence mechanisms at work.

But does our fear serve us?

Most of you could probably be tempted to say conclusively no, knowing perfectly well how this is about confidence, empowerment, and, obviously, facing your fears. But here’s where it gets a bit tricky.

As H.P. Lovecraft said, fear is the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

And when it came to fear, he was spot-on.

Fear is what’s kept us and our primal ancestors from getting into potentially harmful or fatal situations. The logic of biology is to sustain life. Therefore, we have a built-in alarm, widely known as the amygdala. So the amygdala is, essentially, what’s kept mankind alive for millions of years.

The problem is that for only a matter of a few millennia, we’ve advanced exponentially, and just totally out-civilized the conditions of our aforementioned primal ancestors. We no longer live in small hunter-gatherer tribes out in the wilderness. There are no rivaling tribes or hungry predators.

But our physical — and, hence, neural — advancement hasn’t kept up to speed! And basically, this is why we get anxious about certain things. Things of which we can’t fully embrace the implications, or, indeed, towards which we just feel an instinctive, knee-jerk apprehension, repulsion, or concern.

Our amygdala perfectly shuns what might progress us, and it only likes what feels safe and secure. For example, twiddling around on Facebook instead of studying. Playing Minesweeper instead of doing that report. We’ve all been there, gotten the t-shirt, etc., right?

Facing your fears isn’t just about roaring with derisive laughter as you gaze audaciously into Death’s horridly cancer-pale eyes. It’s about feeling secure — to an extent where you’re absolutely convinced that you’re gonna be fine.

Really, it’s about feeling confident.

Yes, we might step out in front of a drunk driver this weekend. Or the company we work for might go tits-up. It’s that kind of planet. Birth doesn’t come with a safety guarantee!

… But if we give our energy to the ridiculously minuscule odds of anything like those things happening every day, what kind of life are we gonna get?

But wait a minute! Doesn’t that mean that you don’t need to be facing your fears at all?? LOL!

Well, like I’ve said before, we “shouldn’t” do anything. We don’t “have” to do anything. But…

If you wanna live a confident life, you need to be facing your fears.

This means, if you want that job, you gotta prepare for that interview. And you gotta go into that interview head high, beaming ear-to-ear, because you’re gonna be set on owning that interview.

It means, if you want that six-pack, you gotta hit that gym and work up that sweat, several times a week. You gotta eat that broccoli (stop whining; it tastes great, and it’s healthy), and you gotta stop eating all that chocolate and pizza.

It also means, if you wanna live your dreams, you gotta be honest with yourself; find out exactly what they are; set aside the necessary amount of hours; cut down on whatever’s taking up your time and energy; and you gotta make a commitment to yourself to never quit, no matter what.

But those aren’t fears LOL!

On the surface level, it might not seem like it. But what lies beneath each of these examples is a deep-rooted fear of more tasks, responsibilities and esteem from other people — and maybe even from oneself. It’s all based in what I call non-fidence, and non-fidence is a product of fear.

Non-fidence, of course, is the antithesis of confidence. And confidence is the antithesis of fear.

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How action reduces fear

Action reduces fear, because doing something scary effectively tells our fear to shut up.Action reduces fear, so act.

Truth be told, this neat little quote isn’t my own. It’s one that I came upon while reading a summary of David Schwartz’ classic “The Magic of Thinking Big”. But it stuck with me.

For someone plagued by low confidence and self-esteem, the idea that action reduces fear could very well seem counter-intuitive. Because often, it’s when we need to take action on something — especially something important — that fear arises.

There’s the fear that we’ll mess something up, and that, as a result, people will judge us and ridicule us. But there’s also the fear that we might successfully carry through with our endeavor and advance to a higher level. — We’d have expectations coming at us from all sides! And responsibilities!

Whether it’s one or both, or some other fear, fear associated with taking action is definitely real. So, why would anyone claim that action reduces fear??

To find the answer, take a moment to think about another topic that seems to cause non-fidents a lot of pain: Over-thinking.

We’ve all been there. Stuck with a seemingly unsolvable choice, entirely unable to weigh out the pros and cons. Or, having done just that, unable to make a decision because either option seems just as good — or bad — as the other.

No-one’s exactly a fan, that’s for sure. But still, as it is said in the personal coaching world, there’s always a pay-off.

You see, over-thinking is, deep down, a defense mechanism. When we over-think something, it’s because of exactly those aforementioned fears.

No-one likes over-thinking. But it still feels way less uncomfortable than having to make a tough decision or do something that makes you feel exposed and put on the line.

Over-thinking, then, is the antithesis to the action that it prevents. The two cannot co-exist. It’s either one, or the other.

Sometimes, the over-thinking wins, and we end up doing nothing at all. That’s when we really give in to our doubts and fears.

And so, it’s when we stop thinking and just do it that action reduces fear.

Action reduces fear, because when we act, we only do it because we’ve sufficiently silenced that fearsome part of our brains telling us to abort and run away. Like I said, the two cannot co-exist.

But doesn’t that mean that I’d have to compromise my thinking if I want to get things done? What if I, like, really treasure my thinking?”

Sounds like a defense mechanism to me. 😉

No, seriously, it does. But I DO get where you’re coming from. I was there.

The thing is, thinking isn’t necessarily good for us altogether. Thinking isn’t a means to an end. We have more thoughts every day than can be measured, and that’s not exactly beneficial.

On the contrary, many a study have been done on how meditation helps us by training us to simply observe our thoughts and stay focused on the ones that matter, rather than blowing the insignificant ones out of proportion.*

Also, after we’ve done whatever frightening actions we’re doing, we can evaluate ourselves and get better at it the next time. And, of course, we wanna start out by taking babysteps. This goes for whatever we’re doing. Some people even get help from a confidence coach. (Something I obviously highly recommend doing.)

Bottom line: If you’re feeling anxious about doing something, it probably means it’s important, and you should do it. And really, there are lots of ways to go about your challenges safely and securely. But only the action reduces fear. And, as another quote from the initially mentioned summary goes: Nothing happens just by thinking.

Yes, it’s scary. Do it anyway.


* Sources: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2719544/; http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967

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On the paradox of finding comfort in low confidence

No matter how safe you might feel, staying with your low confidence is the biggest risk of all.If you know anyone with low confidence, you’d want them to feel more confident, right?

However, things aren’t always that simple.

Low confidence is a lot like depression. In that it has that one counter-intuitive paradox to it:

Depression and low confidence holds us back. But for that same reason, they can actually feel safe.

Indeed, confidence can be scary!

… Well, actually, it’s not confidence in itself that’s scary. On the contrary, confidence is the antithesis to being scared.

However, if one has low confidence or none at all, the IDEA of having it can sometimes be quite frightening.

Indeed, if you have low confidence, confident people can come off as brash, intimidating, and careless towards other people’s sensitivities.

Therefore, staying in your “safe spaces” can seem all too easily obvious. You don’t speak up; you tend not to disagree; maybe you don’t even get out much.

Ultimately, your low confidence can end up as a sort of trusted companion to you. Because not taking any risks can seem safe and secure.

And — you guessed it — here’s what’s wrong with that…:

Deep down and honestly, beyond all the fear, doubt and superficial comfort, we all know that we want more than that. Some of us might even know that we actually CAN DO better than that.

But taking action can be scary. Because often, we wouldn’t know where to start. Nobody told us. How would we know?

And what if we mess it all up beyond repair?? We could ruin our reputation, right?! And other people would maybe LAUGH at us!!

Here’s what we all need to realize:

The biggest risk is not taking any action at all.

Altogether now:

THE BIGGEST RISK IS NOT TAKING ANY ACTION AT ALL.

Only when we’ve made it fully clear to ourselves that our perceived comfort in low confidence is by far the bigger evil can we move towards action.

And the good part is that often, the biggest difference is not what action we take, rather than the fact that we take action in the first place.

See, if we truly wanna get confidence, we gotta start by getting used to taking action. And, popularly speaking, this means, get off your ass and deal with your circumstances.

But no, really: If you don’t take action on your own behalf, who do you expect will do it for you?

Nobody will! Your parents won’t be around forever. And your friends’ support, however generous, only goes so far. Their food budget isn’t yours, and you can’t stay on their couch forever. (Or, indeed, any couch.)

And of course, this only applies to those lucky enough to have parents and supportive friends. Not everyone is.

Whatever’s the case, it really is up to you to take action.

ACTION ITEM:

This week, stretch yourself. Challenge yourself in an area of your life where you have particularly low confidence. (And if that’s “all of them”, just pick one.)

If you’re anxious about approaching other people, do it. Ask a stranger for directions anywhere and exchange a few words in the process. If you feel like you could have done a lot better, do it again.

Getting our of our comfort zone is the true killer of low confidence.

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