Can you imagine your work and your life a year from now? What can you anticipate coming your way? What could impact the way you do your job? And, what will your family look like in regards to the changes you know are coming?
Recently, I spoke for a group of Majors and Lt Colonels at Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, in Montgomery, AL and at a conference for college seniors in the agriculture industry. The future Commanders I met with are about a year away from being promoted to lead a squadron and the college students are graduating in May to enter the job market. Their next year will be full of change!
What do you see when you imagine (or better yet, “image-in”) the experiences you hope to have or the challenges you know you’ll face? Whether you’ve been in business for a long, long time or you’re about step into a new opportunity, you have to start preparing now for a future that’s uncertain.
No, I’m not asking you to do “wishful” thinking. Instead, I want you to direct your thoughts and energy toward the very specific facts that will change your future. There are things you can do today – things you can learn – that can influence what you do and how you work.
There’s a secret to getting (more of) what you want from your life and your work. It’s not a secret because it’s difficult to learn or because no one wants you to know it. It is a secret because you just haven’t heard it put this way before.
If you want your life to be different 5 years from now, there’s just one thing you need to do starting today:
Organize Your Contacts
In just a moment, I’ll coach you to arrange the group of 10-25 people you’ll talk with the most over the next 4 weeks into three distinct categories.
(If you just can’t wait, watch the video! It’s just under 3 minutes long, from a speech I gave for the Agriculture Future of America attendees recently in Kansas City, MO.)
No one person is enough for you to build a future that’s bigger and better than the present. Look around, there are people you spend time with today that you didn’t know 5 years ago. Your life looks how it does today BECAUSE OF the people you spend more (or less) time with.
Your network (in person, online, AND in print) is there to inform, influence, and support you as you engage in the actions required to make progress on your goals, big and small. The people you spend time with, the communities you’re a part of on the Internet, the books you read, and magazines you subscribe to will all come together for you if…
…IF you know where you’re heading!
To get you started, open your notebook and do some visionary writing.
Here are my THREE favorite prompts that I use in my coaching with executives, leaders, and managers worldwide:
1. FIVE YEARS
60 months from today…
Open to a blank page of your notebook, set a timer for 15 minutes, and respond to this prompt by writing 500-700 words:
“Over the next 5 years, in my roles as _______, ________, and _______ I want to be known for …”
I challenge you to go year-by-year as you do this:
Think about your work, your life, your community, your family and, of course, your age.
Write, and write, and WRITE some more!
2. ONE YEAR
52 weeks from today…
For this next exercise, I suggest you use 12-24 note cards (the 3×5 ones you used in college!) — one note card for every 2-4 weeks over the next year. (Oh, this one might take a little longer. Set a timer for 30 minutes, and make sure you have your CALENDAR handy!)
When I do this, I line up the 24 cards in order of the next year. Then, I “challenge” myself to write down AT LEAST 3 bullet points (ideas, projects, goals, ideas, etc) on EVERY card.
Here’s the prompt you can use:
What do I ALREADY know is coming up that I’d like to spend ENOUGH time thinking about, working toward or managing with grace and ease?
3. TWO DAYS
Over the next 48 hours …
No matter what day you’re reading this, you’re going to be doing something, somewhere, spending time with SOMEone within a couple of days.
Here’s your challenge (in just 3 steps):
- Open your calendar and review your time hour-by-hour over the next two days.
- Make a list of EVERYONE you know you’re going to talk or meet with.
- Next to their name, write down ONE thing you could discuss.
As you’re getting ready to take on your next project or step toward a promotion or begin making a work / life change, you can think in those terms. Once you’ve done the thinking about TIME, now it’s time to think about PEOPLE.
THREE kinds of people to share dreams with today:
1. The Realist
As you’ll see in the video below, my friends who are realists are there to find the holes in my theories and to test my resolve. I go to them when I need a project edited, or if I want to know what OTHER realists (who I haven’t worked with or met yet) might think about my crazy idea.
The question they ask: “And…do you think you can really do that?”
2. The Visionary
I smile as I write this. My visionaries are the people who can easily “add a zero” to my thinking. If I tell them I’d like to write a 1,500 word article, they ask me if it could be a 15,000 word booklet. If I share a goal to speak at a conference with 50 people, they challenge me to apply to speak at one with 500. If I plan to enroll another 100 members into the GET MOMENTUM Leadership Academy…you get it.
The question they ask: “And…have you thought about…?”
3. The Accountability Buddy
Have you ever told someone you’d meet them at the gym? Have you ever asked someone to edit a paper or a slide deck you are building for a presentation?
Have you invited someone to enroll in a course or program (like GET MOMENTUM!) with you?
If so, you intuitively understand the value of having someone to hold you accountable.
The question they ask: “And… what are you going to do next about that?”
If you want your future to look more like it does in your imagination, start to spend more time with the right people. Use the three categories above to organize your next few conversations over meals, while out walking, or on video as you talk with people. Use the power of focus to direct your actions and attention toward what you want, toward what you can “image-in” for yourself at work and in life.
Think about it: The next 60 months are going to go by in a flash. Not convinced?
Write down the year 2013 and ask yourself, “How fast have the past 5 years gone?” In order to get where you’re going, find the three kinds of people to share your dreams with and you’ll go further. Ready?
A VIDEO ABOUT THOSE 3 PEOPLE
As you watch this video, make a list – or a mind map – of the people you think of as you review each category. Over the next week or two, reach out to them and see how you can help each other!