Once upon a time, we were our past selves. We went along either with future intentions in mind or simply drifting with the tide. Did we ever think that we would have ended up where we are?
Few people I know knew they would be exactly where they are today. So how can we plan for our futures when they are so uncertain?
The answer is not to look at what we want or where we want to be in the future but rather, who we want to be.
After all, in life, the only person we can depend on for certain is ourselves. As much as we want to be able to rely on someone else wholeheartedly, sometimes they leave or change or even pass away.
Who you are in the future depends on what you do today. Here are 30 vital things you can do today that your future self will thank you for. Take this checklist and do each step thoroughly. Your life will line up like magic.
Get out paper and a pencil and lets change your life!
1. Agree to invest in yourself!
We spend so much time investing in relationships and this is a good thing. But we cannot forget that investment in ourselves is as important. Take some time now.
Going through this checklist step-by-step and doing each step thoroughly will set you up to move forward in life with focused energy.
2. Decide who you are.
I am not talking about taking on an identity such as one outlined by a career. Too many times we allow ourselves to be defined by our careers. This can be so much the case that when someone needs to change careers or retire, they lose their sense of self. This can be extremely destabilizing.
Knowing who the real you is gives you stability in life. If you are a good, honest, strong and ethical person, decide that right now. We are who we decide we are and are nothing else.
3. Be who you really are every day.
Now that you have decided who you are, simply make the decision that you will strive to be that person every day. Be the best of that person you can be. Understand that there are times that we all fall short of our ideals but a person who keeps at it is one who eventually succeeds.
If we fall short, understand that this is an area where more learning has to take place.
4. Decide what your values are and live them every day.
A person who has a strong set of beliefs and values is a happy and strong person. A person who does not have a clearly defined set of beliefs and values is tossed about in life like a tiny ship on an angry ocean. There is nothing certain to a person like this except the fact that he will be at the mercy of others.
Most of our values are similar. Things like keeping yourself strong and healthy, keeping your family well and protected, helping mankind and all living things, and caring for our environment are good areas to look at to see what your values are with regard to them.
Write down some of your values in these areas. Stick to them.
5. Decide what you want to be.
Here is where you get to start choosing identities.
So many of us have become dissatisfied with our careers over time and yet we feel we have to continue in that line of work. We have put so much time into it haven’t we? It would be crazy to start over again. Well, would it? Isn’t it more crazy to go on day after day completely dissatisfied? So what if your career didn’t work out the way you wanted it to?
Make a change. Decide what you want to be and get started. There is nothing as exciting as changing your career into exactly what you want it to be. There may be years of transition ahead but get started right now and never give up.
Write down what you want to be.
6. Measure your successes by your own definition of “success”
Everywhere we are bombarded with images of “success” we are told we are successful if we are thin, rich and have power. Well guess what? There are many people with all of those things and most of those people are completely miserable.
Success must be defined by your own ideas. Sit down and figure them out then get on the road toward THAT success.
Write down your definition of “success” that’s personal to you.
7. Make conscious choices about how you will be affected by the things that happen in life.
Life is completely random most of the time. That is what makes it a crazy, wild ride. The one thing we do have in life is choice. We can choose how things will affect us. Make a conscious choice when these things occur.
Recently I saw a quote from Nelson Mandela who had been imprisoned wrongly for 27 years. When he got out, he realized he could choose to be angry and bitter or he could choose to let it all go. He knew that if he chose anger, he would still be trapped in a prison that would continue forever. He chose to let it go and be free.
We all have that choice. It can be difficult but it is still a choice.
8. Seek forward progress on the path to your goals.
Realize that some goals may take years and others, a lifetime. Keep track of your forward progress and give yourself rewards for making it a little further on your path.
9. Always look forward. Never look back to try and change the past.
The path that you have been following may have been good or may have been bad, In either case, looking back and trying to change what has already occurred is a huge waste of time and energy. The more time and energy you invest in the future, the more your future will be what you make it.
10. Don’t stop learning!
Many of the most interesting and powerful people I know have changed careers several times in their lives. They are people who are constantly digging into and learning new fields and new skills. For this reason, when the opportunity arises for them to start a new career, they already have the skill set. Many of these people could change careers tomorrow and be successful because they have the skills in place.
Also realize that one must LEARN HOW TO LEARN. We are not talking about memorizing a bunch of facts and spitting them out on a test. I am talking about taking in information, understanding it and being able to apply it in your life.
In order to do this, you must understand the specific words used in the subject you are studying. If you don’t understand each and every word in the subject, you will not be able to understand the subject enough to use the information you have learned. Get a good dictionary and make it your best friend while studying anything. Look up ANY word you do not fully understand. This will also improve your vocabulary and communication.
Write down the subjects you need to study in order to have the career you want.
11. Break your goal down into mini goals that lead to your big goal.
When you do this, give each mini goal a target date for completion. Let’s say you want to be a professional chef. One mini goal would be to sign up for and start culinary school. Give that mini goal a date when you will actually start your classes.
Figure out and write down your first mini goals. Give each one a target date for completion.
12. Don’t back away from needed changes.
As you progress toward your goals, there are changes that you will need to make in life in order to achieve what you want. When you get to those points where change must occur, understand that they are scary but don’t hesitate to make them. If you have done the previous steps well, you have already identified the changes that need to occur. Go ahead and make them!
13. Get rid of clutter in your life.
This type of clutter I call “Life Clutter” This is the clutter you have with unfinished projects, communication, old regrets and the like. If you have a lot of unfinished projects and they are important, finish them.
Give each one a target date and get them done. Pay any old bills, call your mom, handle anything that you have attention on in your life. Anything in the past that you cannot change, ignore.
14. Don’t do anything you disagree with.
All through life, there are people who will pressure you for whatever reason to do things that you simply don’t agree with. They have all kinds of “good reasons” but the bottom line is that if they are not your reasons, don’t do it. You will regret it and pay for it in lost time, and energy repairing situations that would have been fine if you had kept to your own ideas.
15. Create good habits.
Apply discipline in the areas that you have waste. If you waste time playing video games when you should be getting ready for work, schedule your video games for later in the day and give yourself a set amount of time to play them.
If you drink or smoke too much or eat bad food, get yourself on a path to get those things handled. You don’t have to handle them all at once but choose the one that you feel is most important and handle that. Then go after the others.
16. Do the things that successful people do.
Look at what you have decided to be. Find a person who has been successful in that field and find out what that person did or does on a daily basis. Make a list. The only difference between success and failure is the willingness to identify and DO the things that make someone successful.
Write down the things you need to DO to be what you want to be.
17. Focus on important projects and let all others go.
When I was raising my kids, I was a stressed out mom. I was working full time and my husband traveled. In addition, I was trying to take on way too many projects that got me no closer to any goal. If I could speak to my past self, I would say “Cut out the things that stress you out. If you can’t do the PTA or the choir right now, don’t! Your kids will be grown and you will have time later. Also don’t make the getting of a future goal so important that you neglect the present.”
The most important project I had was raising my kids. I did it but I did not enjoy it except for the few times when I only focused on them. Enjoy the present.
18. Choose well who you would take with you on your path in life.
Choice of the wrong partner or friends who tear you down, whether outright or covertly will ruin you. I don’t say that lightly and I have years of anecdotal, personal information that can back it up from here to Venus.
If there is someone in your life who makes you feel less or trashes your dreams, get them off your path. Their path is way different from yours and it leads down. You will not do well with them constantly trying to divert you.
19. Learn to handle people correctly.
Most of the time you can handle people by admiring them and giving them lots of compassion and communication. Making people wrong is highly ineffective most of the time.
Learn to grant people the right to be themselves no matter how much you might disagree with them. People come in all kinds of funny packaging. Look past it to the person inside.
20. Find areas of agreement with people.
When you meet a person, look for something in that person with which you agree. In some people it may be difficult but there is always something! Once you find it, comment on it. For example, tell your waitress that you like her necklace. This is the first step on starting a communication with her.
21. Identify damaged relationships and repair them.
We all have relationships that have gone wrong. We can either regret their wrongness or work to repair them. I believe that unless the other person is completely nuts, I can repair any relationship.
The simplest way I know to put a relationship back on track is to simply tell the person you are sorry something went off and you want to start over. This gives you both a basis for agreement on which you can build a new relationship.
22. Don’t agree with scarcities in money.
There are so many people who will tell you that in order go have something, you need to deny yourself something else. That is a fat lie. You do not necessarily have to bag lunch it every day in order to save up to buy something. What you have to do is go out and create more money.
There are a million ways to do it over and above a day job where your salary is limited. If getting money is a problem, start looking at alternative ways of getting it legally and morally, and go create some. Make it a game. It is actually quite fun! Scarcities are created by those who profit from scarcity. Don’t fall for it. Go create abundance.
23. Don’t agree with scarcities in time.
When something is important, you can make the time to do it. It may not be easy in some cases. One can ALWAYS scrape out a tiny bit of time to use to move forward on a goal. The steps forward do not have to be big or taken all at once but they do have to move you forward to some slight degree. Do something every day to move you forward.
24. Get rid of clutter in your environment.
Physical clutter takes time and attention. You have to move it, dust it, care for it and worse yet, every material item you own traps a little bit of your attention. Get rid of the things you don’t want or need. Attention is what drives you forward. Free up as much of it as you can.
25. Don’t be afraid of changes in life.
The key to going through life with confidence is education on the things you will be facing. There is information everywhere. At the click of a mouse you can have more information at your fingertips than is available in any university in the world.
How do you know the information is correct? The answer is simple. Just ask yourself, “When I applied it, did it work?” if the answer is yes, it is correct. If it is no, than either you didn’t do it right or it is wrong. Get good information. Then make the needed changes.
26. Look for opportunities to help others every day.
It is in the service of others that we find our true selves. This is the grand secret of the universe. Hold the door open for someone. Ask your neighbor if they need assistance. Find ways to help others that align with your goal. That is the best way to make it a reality.
27. Let others help you.
Give those around you the opportunity to find themselves too. It makes people so happy to be allowed to help another. It does not create an obligation, it just builds good will.
28. Get your communications out to LOTS of people and work to maintain those communications.
We now have social media and it can be a great place to really get yourself known. Find like minded people on social media or in your community. Cultivate relationships and expand those as much as possible.
This takes work but is very important to help you achieve your goals. Any goal takes a certain amount of teamwork so start building your team, even if it is just a cheerleading squad.
29. Work to improve your communication skills.
Good clean communication saves time, energy and upset. Be aware of the things you say and how it affects other people. So much time is spent trying to iron out miscommunication or soothe hurt feelings. Clean up your communication. Say it in a way that will be received correctly by the person. Make sure they heard and acknowledge you.
Go out and look around you at the effects of bad communication. They are everywhere. Most of the ills in society today can be traced back to bad, unclear or altered communication.
If we all took full responsibility for our communication and made every effort to be understood, and worked to correct it if it was misunderstood, we would all be a whole lot happier. Study the subject of communication, it Is a subject and it does affect us every single moment of our lives.
30. Understand that wherever you are, you can always make a new start.
It is never too late and things are never too far gone. What you have done in the past is in the past and your future is what you make it. All you have to do is plot your course and go!