“Judy, we don’t smoke anymore!”, my friend told his wife 50 something years ago.
Up until that time they’d both smoked about a pack a day. However, my friend decided that needed to change. While I don’t necessarily agree with his deciding for both himself and his wife, I do believe it was a wise choice. They never smoked another cigarette in their lifetimes.
So what’s your future look like? Do you believe things are going to change, or are your expectations low? If you’re going to win, you need to begin preparing now. Here’s how to start.
When I first thought about pursuing a Doctorate, I was often discouraged because it was so easy to imagine failure. The work would be too hard. I wouldn’t have time. I’d miss a deadline. In an instant, everything I’d worked for would crumble in an instant. Ultimately, I’d fail out of the program. Sound familiar?
Lets face it, the things you envision tend to come true. So if you want to win, you have to start by deciding what that’s going to look like. In the words of a poet, “This is all a daydream we dreamed long ago.” In most cases, you began the journey to your current location and vocation years ago. So if you envision yourself doing something different in the future, you have to start picturing what that looks like today.
The problem is, there are real and imagined enemies, between you and your dreams!
Meanwhile….Challenge+Action Plan= Success!
That’s right, there are many imaginary enemies you have to defeat, let alone real ones, but you can do it. My brother and I went camping with my Dad when we were kids and we were thoroughly convinced there was a Bear outside the tent the entire night. We saw his shadow and heard him. In reality it was just my Dad and his buddy talking late into the night around the campfire. Even as grownups, it’s easy to imagine there are Bears outside our tents.
Meanwhile, challenges aren’t unique to only you, we all face them. The good news is 9 out of 10 fears coming down the road toward us, end up in the ditch. Likewise, the fanged enemies we do end up coming face to face with are toothless by the time they reach us. There’s always a Cyclops between you and your dreams, you just have to figure out what it looks like to overcome him. Call it mental preparation, psyching yourself up…whatever works for you. You can achieve success but only after you take the time to size up your challenge and develop a game plan.
Nevertheless, before you’re ready to conquer your real enemies, you have to defeat your imaginary ones. Kids do it all the time. They have no problem imagining themselves overcoming their enemies. In fact, they all see themselves as the good guy overcoming evil. A stick becomes a sword and they conquer their enemy every time, single handedly. Things change as they get older.
As we age, we lose our imagination. It seems like most of us start out brave, but after a few setbacks, we lose heart. Before you know it, we’ve lost our ability to envision success. Is it any wonder we don’t succeed?
Here are some tips for reimagining your future.
First, Consider David. What separated David from his contemporaries was his ability to envision success. Call it what you want, faith, confidence, the results are the same. Stepping up to face Goliath was as natural as breathing for David. He had spent years out in the fields fighting enemies both real and imagined. In fact, when he talked with King Saul he talked about how he had struck a marauding lion and a bear at the same time and then killed them, while watching his flocks by night. Then when it’s time to face Goliath, the same chain of events happen. David unleashes his slingshot and strikes Goliath in the forehead with a stone. He then slays him with a sword, Goliath’s own sword, in fact. Hmmmm….a coincidence? I don’t think so. When Goliath’s companions witnessed his death, they fled. Face your greatest fear and your smaller ones will flee the scene too!
Second, Challenge+Action Plan= Success. Focus on the results and nothing will change. Focus on the changes that need to take place and you’ll achieve your results.
Three, Get radical. Radical change leads to radical results. If you take the slow road, it’s going to take you longer to get there every time. The bible emphasizes quick change. We’re to take off our old garments and put new ones on. For most people, changing clothes doesn’t take a week, it happens in a matter of minutes. Stop envisioning failure and start imagining success.
Four, Inflate yourself and deflate your enemy. David’s father, brothers and even the King himself, discouraged him. Not only that, they emphasized Goliath’s greatness and size! Good thing David didn’t listen. If you ignore those who would discourage you and trust God, you can achieve the unimaginable.
Five. Get rid of fear and start living by faith. The scriptures state “the just shall live by faith” (4x). If the bible says something once, it’s enough. When it says the same thing four times, you can be sure it means business. In the world we live in, it’s easy to imagine the sky is falling. The only antidote is faith. Rather than Fearing Everything and Running, Face Everything And Rise. What does that look like? It looks like you imagining yourself doing great things, not failing.
Six, Play the movie of what it looks like to succeed. Michael Phelps does before every race and it shows. He even imagined what it would look like to win if his goggles fell off as he was nearing the finish line. They did, eventually, and he still won the race.
I’ve often wondered what God meant when he said that David was a man after his own heart. I’m beginning to think that God meant David possessed from his youth the ability to easily imagine himself coming out on top with God’s power. I very well may be wrong. However, there’s no denying the fact that David had mountain moving faith! If it’s impossible to please God without faith, it follows that God’s heart sings when he watches us walk by faith despite our circumstances.
Goliath, on the other hand, was also confident and no doubt had a difficult time envisioning defeat. The difference is, unlike David, Goliath’s faith was in his own strength and abilities, not God’s! The rest is history.
If you’re working on an advanced degree, imagine what it’s going to look like to walk across the stage on graduation day. Better yet, imagine how good you’re going to feel when your achieve your accomplishment.
Is there an area you’ve been imagining failure? What does the reverse look like? It may be your career, your marriage, your relationship with your children. Fear will paralyze you. Stop worrying about how you’re going to lose your job, your wife and your kid and start thinking about what it looks like to win. Take the steps necessary to avoid that type of outcome. Imagine yourself retiring with a sense of accomplishment with your wife at your side and your grown kids celebrating with you. David struck his fears head on and slew them and so can you!