I’ve written before (see Time to Think Again) about the long-term effects of decisions which we take for short-term reasons. I have always been fascinated too by the way in which our lives can take shape in the long-term in ways which are entirely unimagined by us in the short-term.
A few days ago I was thinking about how much my life has changed over the last fifteen years (fortunately almost entirely for the better). And I started to wonder how much of my present circumstances I could have forecast back in April 1992.
Some of it would be pretty easy. I am still married to the same person. My children have predictably got fifteen years older and have left home. I’m still living in the same house.
Some I might have hoped for but might have had a hard time believing could come true. So I have achieved a long-standing ambition of working for myself, and doing it successfully. Fifteen years ago, I knew I wanted to work for myself but had absolutely no idea about what I might do or how to go about it.
And some of it would be entirely unpredictable, even to the extent of never crossing my mind. I’d never heard of coaching. I’d never thought of writing as a possible career. I’d no idea of the potential of the internet. And, apart from my immediate family, I had not yet met any of the people who are currently most influential in my life.
If I’d sat down in April 1992 and written about how I would like my life to change over the next fifteen years, I would have said something like this:
- Freedom from having to work for other people
- More able to express my own individual talents
- To have achieved a successful business
- To be out of debt and free of money worries
- To be rewarded according to the effort I put in
- To be growing myself and helping other people to grow
- Be able to do what I want when I want to
- Have loads of supportive friends
To feel in charge of my own life.
Fifteen years ago I would never have dreamed of actually sitting down and writing this list out, so all those things remained unexpressed. But looking back over the last fifteen years I can see how these themes all worked themselves out in my life, almost without my conscious control. And yes, I’ve achieved all of them.
And what do I want for the next fifteen years? More of the same, or something different? Hmm, I’ll have to think about that!
Have a look at your circumstances ten, fifteen or twenty years ago. How have they changed? What’s better and what’s worse about your life?
If you’d sat down that number of years ago and written out how you’d have liked your life to change between then and now, what would you have said? How far has it come true?
What do you want for the next period of years? More of the same or something different?