Look 6 months back and 6 months forward [Future Thinking]

It might seem weird to look back when Future Thinking is about looking forward in ones life.  But there is a reason!  Look back at the last six months and rather than focussing on the negative or problem side of things over the last six months, you should look at the last six months and ask yourself one question:

Has my life improved (at all) in the last six months?

This is actually a useful concept because it prompts you to then ask, “What can I do to make things better over the next six months?”

Looking at what has changed in your life (or not changed) in the last six months (ok maybe twelve but I use six) is a good way of stimulating ideas for how you can make things better in the future (Future Thinking).

So looking back in this way is Future Thinking.

How can I make things better in the next six months?

That’s the other side to the coin.  You need to look at both back and forward six months to be Future Thinking.  If you don’t and you are just looking back six months, then you are probably not Future Thinking at all!  You are probably just being melancholy and slightly negative about what has or hasn’t happened.

By looking at life in both directions, you can put a positive spin on your analysis of your life in the (six months back/six months forward) period.

It doesn’t necessarily matter if there isn’t any significant change in a particular area but simply Future Thinking about your life in this way is sometimes good enough.

Let me give you some examples

Let’s say that you have a job which you are not very happy with.  Maybe it doesn’t pay enough, or maybe you don’t get on with the job or the people you work with.  How can you apply Future Thinking to this problem?

Well, first of all, let’s start with the looking forward six months part of this concept.  Rather than focus on how bad things are, as a Future Thinker, you should look at what you can do now and in the following six months that might make things better six months from now.

How? Well, how about you start a new course in a subject that you enjoy?  Why not join a community group that discusses things you are interested in? Why not investigate things you can do within your company that could mean a change in your role (such as volunteering to be part of a group that discuss certain subjects).

There are many things you can do or consider now that might change your job situation in the future.  Only you can tell what those things are.

Now imagine you have done some things and one or two people have noticed that you are good in a certain area or that you show an interest in some aspects of the business.  In six months time you might find yourself on a committee.  While this might not have drastically improved your job situation, when you look at it in a Future Thinking way (six months back and six forward) you might see that there has been a positive change and that can give you hope to keep doing things that affect your future.

Continuing this example, you might look back six months from now and say “Actually my job situation is getting better!” (because my job has more meaning for me).

Now you can step by step look at what else you can do to improve things.  How about if you were so good at what you did in the committee that they asked you to become president of the committee (in a further six months time) or another leading role?  In twelve months time your job situation could be looking a lot brighter.  Who knows who might have noticed your input into the company?

So to finish with I’ll remind you of another phrase I have coined. The ACCEPTANCE+FUTURE THINKING=HAPPINESS phrase.  In relation to this article, ‘accept’ where you are today in your job/relationships/spirit (etc) but apply Future Thinking to it (look six months back and six forward) and you will attain a certain amount of happiness.

Best of luck and keep Future Thinking!

“How can I make this work?”

Positive questions
In those six words is the crux, the foundation if you like of having a happy and fulfilled life.

How?

Think about the alternative or opposite of that question:

Negative statement
“I can’t make this work!”

That sentence is a statement of fact which when said is final and plants a seed of belief about what we voiced aloud.

‘I can’t make this work’ says that you have come across a problem in your life and you can’t see a way around it and that you have made a decision that the problem cannot be solved. In most cases, it is then hard to drag yourself back to asking the first question “How can I make this work?” and we therefore fail.

I’m human just like the rest of you and I often stumble at the negative statement above rather than the positive (future) thinking question in the title. However, if we more and more start to change the way we consider problems by asking the question rather than giving up, then amazingly things don’t seem so bad!

Friends
It’s hard I know, and sometimes the answer is in the friends you choose to listen to rather than a super human effort by yourself. Choosing to listen to positive friends is also hard as most will sympathise with our problem but wont try and turn us away from the negative statement rather than thinking about the positive question.

You know, it helps if you start talking to others with the positive question. It’s easier to think of their problem in a positive quesiton-like way because you are detached from their problem. If you can do this, then you are on the way to solving your own problems positively.

What to do then?
Force yourself to ask the positive question. Do it! Struggle through the molass of slow moving problems and life issues; look outside of your life for a moment and try and see it from someone else’s viewpoint, from someone else who might think in a positive question point of view.

By asking the positive question you force your brain to look for answers! Keep asking that question and your brain will struggle and fight to give you the answer!

Something that helps
This has helped me a lot:

Acceptance + Future Thinking = Happiness

Acceptance
Accept where you are right now, accept the fact that you have problems or life isn’t quite how you want it (not enough money, problems at home, job stress and so on)

Future Thinking (or Purpose)
If you are accepting of your situation, you can then think with the positive question “How can I make this work?”.   Future thinking is about careful consideration of a problem or issue and wondering how you can make it work. If you are not accepting of the situation, then your future thinking powers will be diminished, so the two need to go together.

Future Thinking can simply be about moving forward one small step at a time. Feeling down? Guilty? Feeling like a failure? What’s the answer? Moving forward, just a little bit!  One small step at a time can be all it takes to be a Future Thinker!

If you are truly accepting and have a future thinking approach, then you will find a deep seated contentment (happiness) inside your being.

One more thing
Don’t think that the above means that you are ok with your life as it is. Part of future thinking is all about overcoming problems yes, but it is also about improving your life and of those close to you. If that means, earning more money so that you can take your family on a holiday or to upgrade your old banger of a car to a newer one – then that’s future thinking.

There is so much more I can say, but I won’t! Think about it!