2025: Where are you?

jeff/ August 27, 2020

A question prompt for students to think about for their term projects.

Visualizing your future is a mental process that aids in exploring options and planning a path forward.

The key is to visualize the future and the steps needed to get there. Do not fall into the trap of living in the future. Now, this day, this moment, is your life. If you don’t take daily action steps toward your future, then it never comes.

Don’t grow old with regrets. At your age, 5 years seem very far away. But as you get older, you will realize that 5 years go by very quickly. The easiest and most common thing that most people do is to follow the path of least resistance, and life just happens to them. But you may arrive down the road with a sense of dissatisfaction.

One of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read was actually titled The Path of Least Resistance. You don’t have to read it for this course, but it’s something I recommend for you to read someday. I still remember when I read it, almost 25 years ago. I had just turned 30 and was living in Norfolk, Virginia. I had the job of my dreams, a beautiful apartment, and a really nice car. I loved that period of my life but it didn’t happen by chance and neither did what came after.

Fortunately, Robert Fritz, the author of that book prepared a 16-minute video that distills the essence of the book. I never saw that video until this morning. Back in the mid-90s, there was no YouTube. Actually, in 1995, there was no streaming video on the Internet. Indeed, it was rare to find any video on the Internet at all then.

The video has quite the feel of the late 1980s about it. (It wasn’t a great time; you didn’t miss much. And we all had strange hair then; I had a ponytail.) And the overall tone of rushing water and mystic music gives the video a bit too much woo woo feeling. But strive to ignore that and listen for the message.

Note the dynamic force Fritz describes as structural tension. Also, note the emphasis not just on the vision of where you want to go but the stress on identifying your current reality.

Also, most of you will work in business or some type or organization. Many of you will become leaders. Many aspects discussed in The Path of Least Resistance relate to organizational, as well as individual, behavior. Indeed, the now classic business book The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter Senge has many similar aspects.

Use this all as a prompt for thinking about the contents of your term project. This is not an assignment. I don’t want you to respond to me with what you are thinking now. But put some thought into it, for yourself.

Fall 2025

Labor Day approaches as summer ends. (Or, perhaps, by 2025 you’re in the southern hemisphere and winter is nearing an end.) All of you (in my DCI 110 class) will have finished college. Fall 2025: will you be in grad school? Will you have finished all your educational accomplishments? Will you be in the early stages of that career you want? Where will you be living?

Write a paragraph to yourself describing your life in the Fall of 2025. Don’t share it with me. This is for you. Perhaps you will decide to share it publicly and put it on the website for your term project. But you don’t have to. Not at all. This is simply to prepare you for thinking about 5 years down the road and the steps you need to take to get there. Ideally, you’ll be revising this paragraph to yourself every year, even when you’re 25, even when you are 30, and even when you are 55 and older.

Then think about where you are now. Each day, your focus must be on the step you need that day to get you to where you want to go. Don’t get stuck in planning the goal and planning every step along the way. If you do that, the days and years will go by and you may not make the progress you want because you are always in planning mode, thinking about what’s coming ahead, and not focusing on what you need to do now to get to the next step.

Adjusting the path

You also don’t want to get stuck into thinking that you have to follow the path that you set out on 5 years ago. It’s your path. Not your parent’s path. Not the path of your friend. Make adjustments as needed, you may find yourself going off on a wonderful path that you could not imagine a few years before. Indeed, I never imagined that at age 39, I would leave the U.S. and live in Argentina for 8 years. As the saying goes, it’s the journey not the destination that matters. But it’s good to have a sense as to where you are going instead of going blindly.