The world changes so quickly and the variables that impact us and our lives are so interconnected. Does this make planning ahead (more than 168 hours) utter nonsense?
I have meetings booked into July. A vacation is booked for next January. I am looking at financial requirements for mid 2017. We have been discussing goals for 10 years from now. Is this all just to quell anxiety or is it helpful in shaping the future?
A few years ago, I would have said ” it is essential to lay the groundwork and make specific plans for the future”. Everything seemed so predictable then. Predictability has been shaken. Two economic downturns in ten years. World conflicts bubbling everywhere. Political partisanship and pandering is the order of the day and thousands of variables that I don’t recognize are banging into each other and creating and recreating trajectories.
I obviously am still planning, even if it with less certainty. In uncertain times having a preferred planned future appointment or direction creates a bit of a frame around all the tomorrows. Today I need that range of possibilities or fear I would be paralyzed by the undetermined and erratic possibilities.
I suggest we all continue to lay out the future with the understanding that adaptation and evaluation may be our most important tools. Planning may be crazy but it is also crucial and constructive.
Make a Plan Today,
What is the smallest change you can make right now to improve your productivity? Move your chair closer, adjust your screen, drink some water? Do it? In the back of your mind ask the question again ” What is the smallest thing I can do to improve this situation?” In work, relationships, personal development there is daily room for small improvement. (Don’t I know it).
For me the smallest thing is almost always to focus on the moment. Keep focusing on the task at hand. Finish this sentence, this paragraph, this assignment. Read deeply. Breathe deeply. Reflect.
My enemy is time – not that I have too little but that I never seem to rest in the moment. I have done all those tests to see if I live in time or through time and am not surprised that my preferred pattern is through time. This makes me on time for everything (because I leave the last discussion, task, place before it is finished (at least in my head)).
I am annoyed by people who are late for meetings with me. I feel they value their time more than mine but they likely are living in the moment and their presence in the last assignment, person or place was so complete that it ran long. I am also annoyed by those people who look over my shoulder in a conversation (I do it all the time) to see who is next to talk to. Those people who check their phone/watch and begin shuffling their notes and books into a neat pile have already moved away from the work, place, me. (I do it all the time)
The smallest thing I can do in every situation is apply focus to the moment (even for just a moment) and then try for another.
I am reading Give and Take by Adam Grant while taking in the bright sunshine and sea breeze in Oceanside< California. Goodreads, description reads;
For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.
I was taken by a line on page , that I read a few days ago and continue to ponder. “Teachers’ beliefs created self-fulfilling prophecies.” Grant is speaking about some remarkable professors, in particular CJ Skender and his approach to judging capability and Skender’s remarkable record of teaching, influencing and encouraging 100’s of medal winning students that have gone on to lead successful ventures. It reminded me of Henry Ford’s “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't–you're right.” that I think applies to those we are supporting, nurturing, encouraging, teaching, loving as well.
It got me pondering – who am I under valuing, under encouraging, under challenging in my life. I espouse regularly Thomas Jefferson’s assertion that “given the opportunity and circumstances, every American will take care of himself, his family, and his community”. I have used this in speeches, debates, writing many times and follow it with “ I believe everyone is more capable than they are given credit for”. Do I live out that prophecy? I think I do with my grandchildren, all children really and I feel like that was my approach with my kids, their friends, and students in my life. Do I still act on that belief? Are there important relationships where my assessment undermines people that I get to work alongside?
Are there people you love, you work with, you care for that you believe has limited capacity or ability? Are you creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for them? What would happen if you set higher expectations for them (yourself) and demonstrated that you believe they could be exceeded? Are you willing to raise the bar, with encouragement and confidence for the next month? January only has 11 days left, would you extend the power of positive beliefs to yourself and others for the rest of the month? I am going to give it a try and record my observations. I would be interested in what you discover. Please let us in on your findings, either here in comments or through email below.