Build a winning tomorrow…

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

How easy it is to get lost fighting the battles from our past days. We can get so wrapped up in what did, or didn’t, happen in our lives. I know that I will find myself replaying a conversation in my mind and thinking of better responses or rethinking my actions in response to a certain situation.

I believe this can be a valuable, and extremely beneficial habit to form. But it has to be done with an eye clearly on the future and how one needs to grow and evolve towards building a better self. Taking the time to reflect and learn is a powerful way to grow forward into the next day.

How do you ensure that you don’t get lost in yesterday, forgetting that the time has passed and it doesn’t define your present day or the tomorrow that is yet to come? I find that taking 15 minutes at the end of each day to answer the following questions in a daily journal helps me process the day, and focus on creating wins.

  • What happened in the past day?
  • What were my biggest wins?
  • What lessons did I learn?
  • What am I thankful for right now?
  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What did I read or hear?
  • What stood out from what I read or heard?
  • What do I need to do next to move forward on my goals?

I know these are a lot of questions to run through, and I fully admit that I don’t get to do this every single day. However when I skip a day I find the next morning to be a little less focused, a little less intentionally crafted.

Over the years I have played with the order of these questions, and with different questions, and on occasion I will replace one with a different inquiry to address a specific challenge or need in my life. For example, if I am taking time off with the family I will modify “What were my biggest wins” into “What were my biggest wins as a husband, as a father?” The point isn’t to get stuck on the questions themselves but instead to focus on learning from the day and very specifically shaping what you need to do to create wins tomorrow.

As a side note I do believe the order of the questions is very important. That’s why I end with “what did I learn” and “what do I need to do” questions. Those reset my head and help me focus on tomorrow.

To ensure that I follow through on my goals of daily reflection I use the journalling app “Day One.” I love that I can capture my thoughts in a simple to use mechanism that is always with me. I have used a paper journal to do this in the past but I found that it was too easy to forget or that it allowed me to create an excuse to not do the practice. There are tons of digital journals out there, so do whatever works for you. The key is to find a method that enables you to process today with a relentless focus on building a better future.

Be ready and mindful that today will be a ‘yesterday’ very very soon. Take the time at the end of the day to reflect and intentionally build a winning tomorrow. You’ll be glad you did.

Today is the foundation of tomorrow…

“Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow.”

Robert Kiyosaki

Maybe tomorrow will be the right time to start that project, but not today, I’m too busy…

Next week will be a better time to tackle that tough conversation head on, but not today, I just don’t have the energy to deal with it…

I’ll start reading that book on breaking bad habits next month, but not right now, there is just too much going on and I don’t have time…

I’ll start spending more time with my family when I get through this busy season at work, but I can’t right now, they’ll understand that I am doing this for them anyway…

It is amazing how many excuses we can create to put off or delay work that will make the biggest difference in our lives. In our “instant gratification” society it seems that all that matters is living in the moment. The easy things we embrace, but the hard things we put off or ignore. But if we want to create a tomorrow that we will be able to live in fully and completely, we have to do the work today.

Yesterday can’t be changed, fixed or undone. Tomorrow is just a dream. Today is the only day that matters if you want to make your visions come true. Live it fully and completely and do the work that will be the foundation for your future.

Be happy…

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so, wants nothing.” 

Seneca

Every day our world and society demands us to want more things. That we should covet more stuff, more experiences, all those things that others have and we don’t. It can feel like the entire world is aimed at helping us focus on what we don’t have RIGHT NOW and thus seeding discontentment and disappointment.

Now there is nothing wrong with dreams and goals. Nothing wrong with desiring to do and be more in our one “wild and precious life.” Obviously I have written about the power of goals many times. The disconnect occurs when those things are all that one thinks about, worries about, stresses over or devotes themselves to becoming.

Living for the future is to neglect the incredible gifts and blessings we have been given TODAY. I personally fight this battle constantly, and it has been a constant battle through my life. It is a daily struggle to put down the focus on tomorrow and to simply be in the moment today. But when I do it, and shift my energy to being fully present with gratitude for exactly where I am TODAY all the seeds of discontentment and anxiety disappear as if blown away by a strong wind.

Ask yourself this question: What is it today that I am most grateful for in my life? I have found that answering this question has an amazing way of pulling one back to the present moment and focusing energy on where one is. It keeps the distractions of life at bay and for those, like me, who have a tendency to live in and for the future, it puts me solidly in the present moment. Try it out, write it down every morning and see what happens. You might find yourself happier than you have ever been.

What is the forecast today?

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Alan Kay

What do you want your future to look like? Can you imagine it? Taste it? See it so clearly that it is almost real? Does it feel like a prediction or a just a dream?

There is a big difference between those that predict their future and those that only dream about it. Dreamers might see their dreams come true, but only after they step forward into creating the necessary effort to make it possible. Once a person makes that critical step they move from dreaming into the world of prediction. Prediction says “I believe this will happen based on my knowledge, experience and the action I am taking.”

Does this guarantee every prediction will come true? Of course not. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we think they will. Sometimes this is for the very best. Because it allows us to recenter, dream again and predict a new and even better future. We control our own forecast through the choices and predictions we make.

What is your forecast today?

Learn from the past, focus on the future…

“Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”

Pope John XXIII

Why do we let “the past,” which is only a memory in our minds, get in the way of what is possible in the future? Unfortunately it is human nature to get wrapped up in what didn’t work or what went wrong and we lose focus on what is yet to come. The key is to focus on learning from the failures with the intent to use that knowledge to get better.

If you value every experience as an opportunity to grow and improve then you will be able to learn from the past but focus on the future.

Today will be the foundation…

“My future starts when I wake up every morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life.”

Miles Davis

Today might be the day that one day you will look back on and realize was the foundation of everything. Since that is the case what will you be doing today to make sure it is one that you are proud of?

Don’t be the boat anchor…

“We have enough people who tell it like it is—now we could use a few who tell it like it can be.”

Robert Orben

We all know people that are eternal optimists. They find the good in every situation, every circumstance, every opportunity. The challenge with these folks sometimes is that they can’t see always see when they need to make a change to adjust to a changing situation.

The perpetual pessimist is on the opposite end of the continuum. This is the person that is cynical and negative 100% of the time. These types are the boat anchors of progress and will standing in the way of change and progress through their constant negativity.

What is the right type? I would argue that the ideal is a person that lives on the optimistic side of the spectrum but isn’t so far out on the continuum that they can’t and won’t listen to reality. These are the folks that see the future for what it can be and have the ability to look past the current state without being blind to the challenges ahead.

No matter what, don’t be the person known as the boat anchor!

Giving more is an investment…

 “My father taught me to always do more than you get paid for as an investment in your future.”

Jim Rohn

My Dad had a very similar life lesson that he preached to my brother and myself. His lesson was “do whatever it takes to get the job done, no matter what, and then do a little more.” That has been a principle I have followed my entire life. No matter what it takes, get the job done, and do a little bit more.

I really like how this quote frames out very specifically that you should always do more than you are paid, because you are making an investment. Investments have returns and if you keep making them those returns will continue to grow. It isn’t just a money thing either, this wisdom could apply to life and how you treat others, how you serve others and how you spend your time. Always give more than expected…

What are you doing today that will matter in the future?

“The future depends on what we do in the present.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Ten years ago what were your dreams for the future? Did you achieve them? What future did you want to create? How did you make it happen? 2009 doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago, yet a lot has happened over the past ten years. Did those years build up to create what you expected and desired? How will it look over the next 10 years?

Was there anything you did today that will create the future you want in five years? Ten years? Sometimes it might be the big things, others just the small things but the focus has to be on doing the right things today that will be meaningful in the future that you want to create.

Best & Worst…

“We can not predict what will happen tomorrow, but we can prepare ourselves to face it.”

Ophelia Callens

What is the best, and worst, that can happen? When you think about life in these extremes you can begin to prepare for a future that might become reality, but isn’t guaranteed.

Sometimes being prepared is all the difference needed to turn a worst into a best instead…

Time to start the new year!

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet.”

Anne Frank

I love this quote when thinking about the new year. Too often we get mired in where we have been, and forget about where we are going and, more importantly, who we are going to spend time with.

I am very goal driven so it is easy for me to get locked into a regimen of objectives and tasks and forget to focus on the people I am blessed to have in my life. One of my goals for 2019 is to capture the special moments each week involving the people I love and journal about them so I can capture those moments and not lose them in a sea of forgotten memories. Who knows, maybe some of those moments will be the best days of my life!

I hope you have a blessed and Happy New Year!

The future is now…

“When you do the things in the present that you can see, you are shaping the future that you are yet to see.”
 
Idowu Koyenikan

The future is made today, one focused action at a time.

Sometimes it is really hard to know exactly what the future is going to hold. But you can see today, and what needs to be done today.

It’s easy to get lost in the dreams of tomorrow but without hard work and focus on what is in the here and now, the future, no matter how well conceived and envisioned, will never happen.

What do you need to do today to make the future possible?

Asking good questions is the key to the future…

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.”

Albert Einstein

I recently finished reading a biography on Einstein,  (Einstein: His Life & Universe by Walter Isaacson) that was a fascinating look inside the mind and accomplishments of one of histories great thinkers.  He had an insatiable curiosity and hated conformity throughout his life which framed his ability to question everything.  He was flawed as a human, as we all are, but is a truly fascinating study and this book is a very worthwhile read.  

I tend to think about the world in a slightly different order than outlined in the quote above.  For me it is Future, Past, Present.   For example, taking some time regularly to think about questions framed out in this way: 

Questions for tomorrow: What is truly important?  What do I hope and dream about?  Why does this stir my soul?  What is my purpose?  How can I live that authentically? 

Questions for the past: What did I learn?  Why did this happen?  What could/should I have done differently?  What was my greatest regret?  Greatest joy?

Questions for today: What should I be doing differently right now?  Given what I know about the past, and where I want to go in the future, what is my focus for today?  How am I actually living versus how I desire to live?   What will I need to do today to make this happen? 

There are tons of other questions to ask yourself in each of these buckets.  Ultimately our ability to grow is based on asking great questions, learning from the answers, and implementing changes today based on those answers.  

I firmly believe that if we ever stop asking questions, we stop growing.  The potential future self that is locked inside all of us dies with those unasked questions…

 

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