The promise of the future we have coming in the next year is an awesome force.
We're going to look back on 2009-2010 for experience, but if we truly want to have a future that we can hang our hat on, we have to look forward for inspiration. And what gives us inspiration to get up in the morning and do our job, learn skills, develop all that we can possibly be, is the promise of the future.
It can be so powerful that it can overwhelm any adversary you might have and any difficulties you might have.
Here's a key phrase: "Reasons make the difference in how your life works out."
Reasons make the difference in your appetite and zest for taking on the challenge, doing the job, becoming successful.
I was once told by a gentleman named Ron Frieze, "If you have enough reasons, you can do the most incredible things. You can get through the most difficult day. You can overcome the most unbelievable challenges if you just have enough reasons to do it. If you haven't got a list of your goals, Michael, it's probably because you don't have enough reasons."
I think that most of us are primarily affected by five things. Number one is the environment. The political environment, the social environment, the physical environment. Whatever surrounds us affects us. The city, the country, the countryside, the village, the office, the people. We're constantly affected and shaped by our reaction and decision making. A lot of it depends on the environment.
Next, we're affected by events. Some events affect every one of us. Some affect the world regionally, nationally, or by the state or by the community. But some events affect us all.
Now then, here's the next one: We're affected by what we know. What you know, what you don't know. The accumulation of knowledge or the lack of it affects your dreams, your future, your income, your bank account, your associations; it affects everything. You've got to really be a student and study, no matter what your age, so you can learn how to make wise decisions that'll give you the best chance to build for the future.
Next, we're affected by results. Whatever your current economic results, whatever projects you've launched, the results up until now, that affects you. The results you've had in the past, up until now, that's affected you.
Finally, here's number five: We're affected by our dreams. Meaning, our dreams are our view of the future for ourselves.
It's not the dreams of anyone else we put first. It's us!
It's important to make sure that the greatest pull on your life is the pull of the future. Some people let the past pull them back, pull them back. The past can be like gravity, if you let it, to pull you back. It's not just to think about it, or get advice from mistakes to carry on for the future. Some people live in the past. They live in that darkness; they live in the mistakes of the past. They live in the discouragement of the past. They didn't make it as they thought they would, and that affects them for the rest of their life, living in the past.
We see that often with our students that come to visit us, don't we? They're so wrapped up in what they did or didn't do in the past that they blind themselves to any possible future of success! So we don't want the past to pull us back to live in the past. And all those other things I mentioned affect us. It's going to affect us to some extent, but not to the extent that we should be affected for our future.
So make this note: Dreams and goals can become magnets.
The stronger the goal, the higher the purpose, the more powerful the objective, the stronger this magnet is that pulls you that direction.
Now not only do your goals and your objectives pull you that direction, here's what they also do: They pull you through. They pull you through all kinds of down days. They pull you through a difficult time. They'll pull you through some winter of your life. Some people get lost in the confusion of the day simply because their goals are not bright enough to pull them through.
I recall the story of one writer of ancient times who said we can walk through the valley; even though there are shadows of death around, we walk through the valley. And why it's possible to walk through the valley, even though there are death and shadows and difficulties, is because we have a view of the other side of the valley. We see the light. It's what keeps up walking!
I am now going to ask you some questions. This is an exercise that might help give you direction. These questions will pull you in the direction you want to go. And it's going to serve as a model so that you can teach this to your children, you can teach it to your peers, you can teach it anywhere. You may want to get some paper and pen for this. Go ahead...I'll wait.
Here's the first question: What five things have you already accomplished that you're proud of?
Let's take some credit before we go to work on the future. We've all accomplished some good things in the past; let's give ourselves credit for that. When you're working with children - this is important - you may have to do a little coaching. Think about sports or school or other activities. Did you win a blue ribbon? Did you come in first? Were you simply just proud of what you accomplished? Have you simply been a good friend to someone? What five things have you already accomplished that you're proud of? Make your own list.
Here's the next question, and this may take you some time: What do you want in the next 10 years?
Make a list of at least 50 items. This is not what you think you can get; this is what you want. If everything fell into place, and you could have anything you wanted in the next 10 years, what would that list be? Not something you think you can earn, not something you think you can buy, not something you think you can finally be so successful you can get, this is what would really do it for you the next 10 years. I now want you to make this list.
And here's the deal now, I want you to put each item, one under the other. Not side by side, but one under the other. And make as long a list as you possibly can, one underneath the other. We're going to do some things with this list when you finish. Just start writing now, as fast as you can, abbreviate where you can, to make a longer list. If something's private, put it in code so nobody can figure it out if they got their hands on this list.
Just let your dreams run free here, not what you think you can get, but what you want. It's harder than it sounds!
If everything fell into place and you could have whatever you wanted the next 10 years, what would that be? The little things, major things, insignificant things, doesn't matter. Places you want to visit. What experiences would you like to have in the next 10 years? Parachute out of an airplane? Star in a movie? Play in a rock-and-roll band? Win a gold medal in the Olympics? Start a family? Maybe there are some changes you'd like to make, some habits you'd like to drop. How about some better habits you'd like to acquire?
You might make a list of the people you want to meet over the next 10 years. How about your investments, properties, what would really do it for you in the next 10 years? How about a hobby you'd like to start? What would do it for you? Become a wine connoisseur. I'm learning more and more about wine. It's an interesting process. I read constantly on cigars and the process of making a fine one. How about becoming a race driver? Skills you want to help teach your children? Make a contribution to society. Make a contribution to your community. Now make your list. Tough isn't it?
Next, we're going to do some things with this list for our next question. I want you to look at each item on this list you've made and give each item a number. The number being a 1, 3, 5, or 10. And this is why: I want you look at an item and say, I think that would take about one year. Another item you'd say, I think that would take about three years. Another item, I think that would take five. Another item, maybe that is going to take you 10 years to reach. Give each item now a number of what you think it might take to achieve that goal, a 1, 3, 5, or a 10. Just somewhere close, it doesn't have to be exact. That's about a 1, that's about a three-year goal, that's about a five-year goal, that's about a 10-year goal. If it's less than one year, just make it a year. If it's more than 10, just make it 10. Just approximate, 1, 3, 5, 10.
Now as soon as you've given each item a number, I want you to now go through and count them. How many 1's? How many 3's? How many 5's? How many 10's? And then just make a little list of those numbers.
How far should you go? As far as you can. How many books should you read? As many as you can. How many friends should you make? As many as you can. How much should you earn? As much as you can. What should you try to be? All you possibly can.
The purpose of this exercise is just to stretch you and get you to think, get you to wonder, get you to ponder.
I wonder what might be possible if I could get everything I wanted, what would that be?
Here's what's next. On your list of one-year goals, decide which are the four most important. So now I want you to go back over your one-year goals and pick out the four most important. If you've only got four, this is an easy exercise for you. But you might add some more to your one-year list if you haven't got enough. And then pick out the four most important.
It's easy to get lazy in designing the day and designing the year and designing the future and designing what you want to accomplish, and just cross your fingers and hope it'll all work out. If you're just hoping that the favorable winds will blow it all your way, I'm telling you, it's not going to happen.
Hope is not a strategy.
Keep this up. And one of the best ways to keep it up is to teach it. Give it away to others. You don't need any recognition; just go give everybody you can think of that deserves it his or her own recognition. And your own self-satisfaction will be recognition enough. If they never put a crown on your head, who cares!
When you have those identified, ask the question "Why?" Why are those four goals important to you? Because the why is very important, and I'm going to give you some notes on that a bit later. So just start a little paragraph why those four goals are important to you.
When the why gets stronger, the how gets easier.
When the why gets big, powerful, strong, how seems to be so much easier. Without a strong enough why, the how seems to be too difficult almost to accomplish. So how do you manage your time? If you had strong and powerful enough goals, you'd figure out how to manage your time. You'd get a book on the subject. You'd do something to manage your time. Study the art of managing your time. See, you can do anything. You can get up any hour, read any book, take any class, make any change, develop any skill, do any discipline. I mean, you can do it all.
When the why starts to grow, the how gets simple. Excellent question to ask children, "Why?"
The purpose is stronger than objects. It's okay to have plenty of objects to go for on your goal list. But always keep asking yourself the question - and sometimes it's good to just write it out - Here's why I want this money. Here's why I want this place. And you start developing those reasons. And I'm telling you now, this starts to become incredibly powerful.
Some of your goals should be personal development. The person you wish to become. Develop skills that make you attractive to the marketplace. Develop the temperament and the attitude that makes you attractive to the business world. The attitude and the temperament that makes you a splendid parent, you study the art. Because here's what's important: Its' not what you get that makes you valuable; it's what you become that makes you valuable. It's the person you become.
Next, here's what will tie this all together. I want you to look now at the whole list that you've written and the exercises we've done and answer this question, What kind of person must I become to achieve all I want?
Now we've got two things working. What you become helps you to achieve. And what you achieve helps you to become. And the more you become, the more you can achieve. And the more you achieve, the more you can become. Who knows which affects the other the most?
So now just write this exercise, start with a few sentences, your concept of the person you think you must become to achieve what you want. It's time for a little truth here. Maybe you need to become much wiser than you are at the moment, you need to become stronger, you need to have better health. Maybe you need a little coaching to really become the person you want to become. "I'm going to have some coaching, physical coaching, spiritual coaching, developing-skills coaching."
To be the influence you want to be, you've got to build an incredible reputation. "What kind of person must I be to attract all that I want in my life and the people that I want and the opportunities that I want?" When you knock on the door and opportunity opens, you must stand there as a very attractive person, or you may not be invited in.
One of the most mysterious and unique phrases that Jesus ever used, said: "I stand at the door and knock." And if you open the door, would you probably invite Him in? This extraordinary person? You say, "Wow, of course." And He said, "If you invite me, I'll come in and sit down. Talk things over." For you to be that kind of attractive person, if you knocked on the door of opportunity and it opened and you stood there, would you be the kind of person that opportunity would say, "Come right in and sit down, and let's talk about the future." That's the promise of a bright future.
You now have a map that will guide you to a great future in coming years.
Finally, it's very important when you reach a goal that's significant or important to you, to celebrate. Celebrate an accomplishment of any size. It doesn't have to be world-changing or life-changing. If it's important only to you, it's important; celebrate.
Hopefully, on your list of goals you had some family goals. And if the family together finally reaches a goal, celebrate with the family. Let each member of the family put his or her check mark on this goal, because the whole family worked on this one.
Do you know what this will do?
It will help each member of your family to make a longer list of goals. Wow, if we can accomplish this, think of what else we could do. The same is true of you individually. When you accomplish something, check it off, celebrate. It'll help you to grab your list, wherever it is, and say, "Hey, if I can get here, I can double that original list." So celebration creates excitement to develop a longer list.
You'll have goals to replace goals that you've achieved, on and on for the rest of your life.
Isn't this good? This altered the course of my life once! It will, my friend, do the same for you.
Here's to your bright future!
Thanks for listening!