I used to worry incessantly about how the future would turn out. Then, it finally dawned on me that all this worrying was doing nothing to help me. It was taking away from my present, and by doing that, it was draining my future from what it could eventually become.
I fundamentally began to realize that the feelings and actions I feel and take week by week, would ultimately create my future. So if I fret and worry now, I’m laying the seeds for continuing that cycle in the future. If I smile and do my best work now, then I’m laying the seeds for that too.
The only way I can be sure of creating a great future is to do my best to create a great present, incrementally improving it week by week – despite the mishaps and little pains that inevitably arise through the course of life.
These days, I write what I’m grateful for every morning and night. I hug my family every day. I do a little exercise each day. I eat a healthy meal each day. I work on my writing each day. Because small acts multiplied through Monday to Sunday and each week, change my future by an enormous amount.
Why are we focused on the distant future?
The underlying reason behind why we worry so much about the future is because we’ve put it on a pedestal. The same model of focusing on a particular guy or girl replicates itself with the way we lead our lives. Macy can’t stop thinking about Gary, so she’s spending less time feeling happy about her life; giving less time to her hobbies and friendships (her present). But really Gary is a scumbag (the future) and doesn’t care about her.
“Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” – Thomas Carlyle
Done right, thinking about the future may be useful since it can engender positive actions in the present. For instance, perhaps Macy realizes that Gary isn’t good for her after some careful thinking and starts focusing her attention on the right people and goals. Yet, when we concentrate on the future too much, it creates anxiety and a distorted vision that cripples our ability to take advantage of each week.
The first step in getting over our anxiety for the future is first to accept that the only reason why we’re anxious is because we’re looking away from what’s in front of us. The second step is recognizing that, at the deepest root, our anxiety for the future comes down to believing that it’s our salvation (most often, that’s never the case).
We need to change the lens we’re looking through
Since many of us don’t have a dominant overriding focus time view, our mind naturally gravitates to its default thinking; the distant future. But since our mind loves concepts, we might as well hold on to the one that serves us best. And a week to two weeks seems to be the sweet spot.
Tim Ferriss, the well know author of the Four Hour Work Week and Tools of Titans, lives his life through the mainframe of two-week experiments within six-month timelines; eschewing five-year plans for a more short term focus. Cancer patients, who know that their death is coming within the year, inevitably start losing their fear of being successful and start taking more action.
Several other different authors like Scott Adams, have explored the benefits of setting short-term deadlines and using systems based thinking. So for instance, instead of dreaming about writing a book, for example, ditch the idea and focus on writing a chapter per week. Short term focus gets you moving.
But you can’t do anything when you’re focusing on the what-if’s in-between a month, to five years, or a decade from now. And that state of inaction is what sets the stage for worry.
To worry less about the future, here are some of the things you can focus on through the lens of the week:
- What time you wake up
- What you choose to eat, read, and watch
- Blocking 1-3 hours daily or more to drive you towards your goals
- Meeting your friends
- Saying thank you, smiling, and laughing as often as you can
We all have goals and dreams. But to build the best future possible, all you need to come back to is making your week as phenomenal as you can. Not too long ago, you were picturing how life would be like when you’d be *insert your current age*.
“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.” – John Lubbock
Don’t let that cycle repeat itself your whole life. Act this week, and make it count. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. Though, I’m not saying we need to live each day like it’s our last — we’re all going to have our off days. I just like you will have minor blips along my journey.
And having a perfectionist mindset is only going to screw us over in the long run. But long as we keep showing up in our work, relationships, and habits each week, the future will be okay. To have a dazzling future, all we need to focus on is making our average week better by 1-5% consistently.
By applying the principles in this article, living each week in a phenomenal manner will eventually become more and more natural. That’s the place where you want to get to. Where doing the hard things becomes easier. Where embracing the week instead of the imaginary future, becomes your default living mechanism.
Eventually, you’ll barely care about the future. Why? Because you’ll get all the thrills and fulfilment you need by crushing it every week.