You must choose the future you want. Either you can direct it, or let it be directed by someone else, and it is a choice you make, whether you’re aware of it, or not.
Read on to learn how I abandoned the life story that circumstances directed, and began directing my own life — David.
Directing Our Story
Seasons 1 and 2
Going with the flow is letting someone else direct your future. It happens. When I let it happen to me in the past, I had just gotten out of the Air Force and found myself in low paying and somewhat-dangerous construction jobs. I fast-forwarded that movie to the unsatisfying ending that was more-of-the-same-until-I-wore-out-or-got-injured. With that future in mind, I chose to direct David Goes to College. In season 1, I enrolled at Kansas State University. My passive let-it-happen approach evolved into a dream of earning a degree in computer science. My dreams expanded with my experiences at college.
In season 2, I met the love of my life. My dreams evolved again, to marriage, finishing our degrees together, and finding a way to support ourselves.
You get the picture. I was making choices that mattered to my future and able to direct a much more satisfying future. No one completely controls the future, but directing what you can, expanding your experiences, growing as a learner, and developing as a person, strongly influence the outcomes of your life. I learned to separate things I could control from those I couldn’t. I could work hard to finish my degree, but couldn’t direct who came looking for a entry-level computer scientist. “Controlling the controllables” is a way of life in business.
It would be lying to say I had everything planned. I thought earning a degree would result in a better job, but I didn’t think much about what that meant. When I graduated, I had options that would have taken us to Chicago or Minnesota from Kansas, neither which we wanted to do. I hadn’t spent any time researching opportunities nor companies, and relied solely upon on-campus recruiters. So what did we choose? We controlled what we could from the choices we had and enrolled in master’s programs. Finishing our bachelor’s degrees created opportunities.
Fast forward, a lot, to the 37th season of that series (it’s bigger than a movie), and ask, did it go the way I wanted? Well, yes and no. I’ve done things I never could have dreamed at the start of the series. Things became possible because I continued to grow and be open to possibilities. I also saw things I loved change with the times. Academic life has changed and gotten more business-like, but not without creating new opportunities. That’s another key learning: focus on developing your capabilities, stay open to change, and be flexible when opportunity arises.
Seeing the Bigger Picture
To direct your life, think of it less as a movie building to a specific end, and more like a series of seasons and seasons of episodes. The series is called your life in 100 seasons, and you and the people you meet are the characters. Some of you have goals. Circumstances occur, and characters react according to their natures. Life unfolds in episodes. As situations arise and are resolved, new situations occur. By developing your character (literally and metaphorically) and building strengths through learning and experiences, you create new opportunities that you did not foresee. Control your controllables, direct your future, and position yourself to take advantage of what may come.
We use this post to explore a story line we call goal management. We did not call it life management because life is too broad and unpredictable to truly manage. You will develop the skills needed to handle what life brings as you practice the activities in the problem solving story-line.
This post is in the Chapter on Goal Management. The chapter covers the steps from discovering your dreams, to celebrating their reality. In this chapter we cover a system that integrates five year, one year, quarterly, monthly, and daily planning, execution, assessment, and adjustment so that your dreams become your reality.
Delve the posts below in the given order to transform your dreams into accomplishments!
- You are here => Direct Your Life
- How to Discover Your Dreams in 6 Steps
- Ready for Your Future? How to Commit to Your Dreams
- Five Steps Turn Dreams Into Goals in One Hour
- Ten Challenges to Goal Setting (and how to resolve)
- Set Your Quarterly Milestones
- Create Your Agile Monthly Plan
- Master Taskers Prioritize and Execute
- Nine Steps Adjust Your Plans and Improve Your Progress with Your Monthly-Assessment in One Hour
- Nine Steps to Celebrate and Learn from Your Quarterly-Assessment in One Hour
- Reflect Annually to Celebrate with Loved Ones and Continue Directing Your Future
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We, David and Debbie, love each other still. David took a small risk to ask Debbie to take a walk around campus, 37 years ago, and we married within the year. We continue to direct our life together, and we solve our problems and persevere through the challenges. As a couple, we celebrate the many joys that come our way, and stay true to our dreams. We learned the slow way to manage our goals, so our wish for you is to learn from our experience, and start directing your own thrilling, 100-season series. However long your show’s run, make each season your best.
Our thanks to Ilan Moskovitch (אילן מוסקוביץ’) [CC BY-SA 3.0], who contributed his picture via Wikimedia Commons.