Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach, is known for saying: Always make your future bigger than your past. Specifically, Sullivan said, “We remain young to the degree that our ambitions are greater than our memories.”
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You make your future bigger than your past by:
- Surrounding yourself with people who remind you more of your future than your past
- Letting go of past failures
- Letting go of past successes
- Freeing yourself from attachments and relationships that only exist for fear of loss — relationships that once made sense but are now “codependent” and unhealthy
- Accepting your current situation for what it is
- Believing your best work is ahead of you
Don’t look to your past while creating your future
“I’m looking forward to the future, and feeling grateful for the past.” — Mike Rowe
Learn from your past. But don’t look to it when creating your vision for your ideal future.
Your past shouldn’t dictate your future. Yet, when most people create goals or plans, they immediately turn to their past and examine previous results or experiences.
Patterns need not persist.
Let the past be what it was.
Accept the present for what it is.
Then decide where you’ll go and what you’ll become. That’s far more fascinating and interesting. And your future absolutely should be something entirely different from what’s happened in the past. Human beings can expand and evolve to the degree that detach from their past.
What got you here won’t get you there
If you’ve been successful in the past, that success can be a suppressant to future success. In Essentialism, Greg McKeown says “Success can be a catalyst for failure.”
What got you here, won’t get you there. The things that brought you where you are often the very things stopping you from reaching your next level.
Your attachment to your prior success (or failure) and identity is keeping you stuck.
Take the momentum and lessons from the past, sure. But don’t live there. And certainly don’t remain attached to THAT identity.
Your personality is your relationship with yourself
According to Dr. Gabor Maté, your personality isn’t you. Instead, your personality is an environmental adaptation. Your personality is how you’re showing up in various contexts.
Every relationship is a personality.
- Your relationship with your body is a personality
- Your relationship to your job is a personality
- Your relationship with your past is a personality
- Your relationship to your future is a personality
- Each and every relationship you have with a different person is a personality — you’re a different person in each relationship because the RELATIONSHIP is what creates meaning between you and the other people
None of these things are you. They’re how you’re showing up. Personality isn’t a permanent thing, as most Western thinkers believe. It’s not something you’re born and die with. Your personality is how you relate and act in various situations and to other people.
Your personality isn’t what shapes your behavior. Your behavior is what shapes your personality. Change your behavior, change your personality.
The quality of your relationship is based on the quality of your behavior. Take a second to examine the different relationships you have. What are the behavioral patterns in those relationships?
What would happen if you upgraded the behaviors?
What would happen to the relationship if you saw it differently? Or showed up differently? Or raised your standards for what you expect in that relationship? Or if you become more transformation-focused and began giving more generously?
According to Tony Robbins, you get in life what you’re willing to tolerate. Your personality is a reflection of what you’re willing to tolerate from yourself. Your other personalities are a reflection of what you’re willing to tolerate in each of your other relationships with other people and with other things.
When you upgrade your behavior, you signal to yourself and those around you that you want more and better from the relationship. As you improve the quality of communication and exchange in the relationship, the personality of the relationship changes.
Psychologists call this self-signaling — and it’s how you change your identity and relationships.
You absolutely can destroy and transform old cycles. Joe Polish has said, “You must be willing to destroy anything in your life that isn’t excellent.”
Rather than sitting and watching TV with your lover, which may be the current personality of that relationship, why don’t you do something more compelling?
How about you give your lover a massage while listening to an inspiring or uplifting audio?
What if you changed how you spoke to them, and expressed more love and affirmation and less criticism?
When you change the language patterns, you change the relationship.
When you change the behaviors, you change the relationship.
Personality doesn’t shape behavior. Behavior shapes personality. Yet, the IDEA of the relationship or personality can become a prison — making you believe THIS IS HOW I AM… OR WE ARE.
You’re not bound by the current relationship
Whether with yourself or someone else, you’re not bound by the current relationship you have. You absolutely can make a change. A dramatic change. A 180 degree change. Right now.
It will likely feel uncomfortable to you — because you will be losing your attachment to your prior identity and relationship.
But as Reyna Aburto has said, “Our path is not about what we have done or where we have been; it is about where we are going and what we are becoming, in unity.”
The “in unity” part of her statement is profound. Whether with yourself or another person, alignment is essential.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Herein lies the fundamental difference between productivity and busyness.
Being productive is about alignment and congruence. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s about being radically honest with yourself and everyone around you.
True progress toward the person you intend to be and the life you intend to have is synonymous with productivity. Conversely, busyness is usually the opposite of being productive. It’s about appearing to be moving — though without much regard for the direction you’re going. As Ryan Holiday has said, “This is a fundamental irony of most people’s lives. They don’t quite know what they want to do with their lives. Yet they are very active.”
Often, people busy themselves in order to ESCAPE the clarity they need. Because clarity requires honesty. It requires a genuine examination of where you currently are. Clarity about where you’re going and who you’re becoming is essential to getting there.
Stop what you’re doing and get organized
Getting organized and conscious of your present circumstances (e.g., your environment, finances, relationships, purpose, and time) puts you in a position to build toward the future you want.
The fastest way to move forward in life is not doing more. It starts with stopping the behaviors holding you back.
If you want to get in shape, you’ll make more progress by stopping your negative behaviors than starting good ones. So, before you start exercising, purge the junk food from your diet. Until you stop the damage, you’ll always be taking one step forward and one step backward.
Before you focus on making more money, reduce your spending. Detach yourself from needing more and become content with what you have. Until you do this, it doesn’t matter how much money you make. You’ll always spend what you have (or more).
This is a matter of stewardship. Rather than wanting more, more, more , it’s key to take proper care of what you currently have. As Paul Arden said, “Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity.”
Organize yourself. Dial it in. Your life is a garden. What good is planting if you don’t prepare the soil and remove the weeds?
Why do most people stay stuck? They never organize.
Prayer and meditation to reduce noise
“I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” — Martin Luther
If you’re not regularly taking time to get clear and organized, chances are you’ve gotten busy doing the wrong things.
If you’re not regularly getting clear, your future won’t be bigger than your past. Instead, it will be a logical extension of your past. You won’t be able to make conscious and radical upgrades.
Discontinuous, not continuous jumps forward are what you want. Rather than linear growth, you want exponential growth.
If you take some time every day to get clear, you’ll be stunned by the simplicity of what you actually need to DO is. Powerful progress isn’t complex. It simply requires clarity of purpose then aggressive action.
When you give yourself a good chunk of time in the morning to get clear, you’ll know where you should be focusing that day. You’ll know who you need to reach out to and what you need to say.
Taking the right steps and making the right communications is how you make enormous progress. It’s how you change the trajectory and pattern of relationships.
Working for one hour in a state of alignment and clarity is more productive than grinding away for days and weeks without clarity. Direction is everything. Continuing to move the wrong way is only taking you further from where you really want to go.
Connecting with others in a state of alignment and clarity can move mountains quickly — while trying to force stuff to happen repels the most brilliant people and opportunities from your life.
Imagine → Do → Be → Have
Your behavior shapes your personality and your future.
Your imagination and idealization of what could be should shape your behavior in the present.
What do you want?
What could your future look like?
How could you better show up in your love relationship?
What could your finances look like?
What could your personality and character look like?
What could your daily associations look like?
What could your ideal day look like?
Most people don’t even take the time to imagine a brilliant future. For others, the very act of dreaming stops them from achieving their dreams. They’ve played-it out in their mind with such intoxicating detail that they become satisfied enough, and deceive themselves into believing they’ve actually done something.
Imagination and clarity should be the direction. Aggressive action and bold behavior is what shapes your ideal reality.
- Behavior changes personality.
- Behavior changes relationships.
- Behavior changes your future.
Clarity and imagination is what should guide behavior.
What you DO determines what you’ll BE which determines what you’ll HAVE.
Do → Be → Have
Your best song is still in you
I once had the lucky opportunity to have dinner with Alice Cooper, the famous rock star. I asked him about his creative process and he told me something really interesting.
He said, “You have to believe your best work is ahead of you. If I believed my best song was already written, I wouldn’t keep writing.”
Richard Paul Evans, the 38-time New York Times Bestselling author, said something similar. He said that every time he sits down to write a book, he tries to create something better than he’s ever done before.
John Burke, the Emmy-nominated pianist once said that every time he begins a new project, he tries to do something he’s never done before. Only by trying stuff beyond anything he’s ever done is he’s able to innovate and push his own creative boundaries. There are no boundaries. Only limitations on your imagination and behavior.
Your best work is ahead of you.
Don’t worry about what you’ve done or what you’ve created in the past. Let go of it.
Put it behind you.
What are you going to do now?
What are you creating now?
Where are you going to go?
Who are you going to be?
“Our path is not about what we have done or where we have been; it is about where we are going and what we are becoming, in unity.” — Reyna Aburto
It doesn’t matter where you’ve been.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve done —neither the good nor the bad.
When you’re contemplating your future, your past should have little to do with that creative and imaginative process.
You can be free to imagine WHERE and WHO. Where you would like to go given your present (not past) desires and impressions. Who you would like to be based on the future you want to have.
Your personality doesn’t define you. It’s simply an expression of your relationship with yourself and what’s around you. You can change your personality completely.
You can change how you show up in the world. And that’s exactly what you need to do if your future is going to be bigger than your past.
Every next level of your life will require a different version of you. What got you HERE won’t be what gets you there.
Where will you go?
Who will you be?
Are you going to be productive, or busy?
Are you going to be clear and congruent, and thus effective?
Is your best music still in you?
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