“Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.”
It can be difficult to think about the future.
Have you ever honestly tried to answer the question, “Where do you want to be in five years?” How about ten years? Twenty? How about thirty?
Think about who you were five, ten, twenty, and thirty years ago. Would you ever have expected to be doing what you are doing today?
I like Doc Brown’s advice about the future. Philosophical and theological arguments about time and predestination aside, I find it comforting to know that my vision for the future is not set in stone.
Today is Back to the Future Day. This if the imaginary future Marty McFly traveled to in Back to the Future Part II.
I’ve already seen dozens of memes and articles about what they did and didn’t get right in the movie.
The point is, there was no way to tell what the world will be like in thirty years.
McFly was shocked and underwhelmed by his future self.
The lesson we have to learn is: how do we make sure we’re not underwhelmed by our future selves?
Try This: Your Parallel Universes
In Back to the Future, Marty McFly find his present and future changing depending on the events in the past. That created essentially parallel universes.
Again, whether that is true or not, try this visualization technique.
Make a list from 1 to 10.
Label the list: 30 Years from Now
Now start listing every career or role or goal you might achieve within the next thirty years. It’s ok if it seems unrealistic. Just write it down.
Now reflect on that list . . .
Reflecting on Your Future
First, acknowledge that any of these things and a whole lot more are possible. The list offers possibilities that may or may not occur. Not a single one of them is set in stone.
This should be a freeing experience. The decisions you make today might set you on a path to one of these parallel universes or they might not, you never know. The best part is, you don’t have to pick just one and ignore the others.
Think back just ten years ago from today. What were you doing? Would you ever have expected to be where you are today?
Ten years ago, I was teaching middle school history and religion in a small school in Florida. Had I went back into the future and told myself I would be managing the digital marketing for a publishing company ten years later, I would have laughed. At the time, I had a disdain for anything business-related and had I been told what I would become, I might have vowed to change things for the worse.
The thing is, I love where my path has taken me and had I made a list of goals ten years ago, I never would have written down many of the things in my life today. Married with three kids? Living in snowy, South Bend, IN? Author of books?
All this was unexpected, but God is good.
So, here’s what you can do with the list.
Forget about it.
Throw it away if you want.
You could take any of those paths that you wrote down or none of them.
Sure, you can pick one possible future as a direction to take, but don’t get caught up in these parallel universes as goals.
The whole point of the activity is to recognize that we can’t predict or create the future. The future is fun. There is so much ahead of us.
Why limit ourselves to just one possible and improbable way of life?
Instead, get comfortable with the present and enjoy it while you still can. Worry about tomorrow another day.
If Back to Future Got our present wrong, then you probably have the wrong vision for your future too.
Those hover boards would be pretty cool, though, wouldn’t they?