I was recently asked a question about focus by a member of the motorcycling community who invited me into his home. The question was whether or not I thought someone should focus on the present or the future. While answering the question I realized I think quite differently about the two, so I thought I’d share. I think of both the present and the future as one. Oh I understand how they appear different in everyday life, but that’s an illusion, a nice way to mentally compartmentalize two expressions of the same thing and thinking about the future is the deception. It’s the future is happening right now all around us: today is the future of us a year ago or 5 or 30 years ago; (and more importantly) tomorrow is the future that’s forming based on what we’re doing right now.
In a lot of ways, separating the two makes the present more pleasurable. The prison population is filled with the results of this sort of ‘immune to the consequences of the future’ type of thought. But the greater population also suffers from separating the two. Think about all of the food pics above and what would happen to my budget for pants on this trip if I ate like that all the time!
Part of the problem is that the future is so far away and the mechanisms, requirements, efforts and actions required to arrive at a future that’s better than the present is difficult, challenging and unpleasant. Losing weight is a great example of why people continue to add pounds every year: exercise is tedious and difficult, but good food and laziness pays off right now.
But there are very few things worthwhile that don’t involve effort. I’ll admit that I’m more tolerant of suffering than the average person, but I think a lot of my own discipline is a result of what I’ll conveniently call my general technique of accomplishing everything.
The first step involves eliminating aversion from the mental thought process involved in deciding upon goals. I hate to sound evangelical, but if you’re serious about changing your life in a positive way stop reading this right now. Go and grab a pencil and paper (Microsoft Word won’t do—has to be a writing instrument and paper). When you’ve done that, come back.
Now imagine you have $5 and can spend it any way you want on accomplishments. These can be occupational/financial, social (girlfriend, kids, husband, etc.), educational, artistic/musical or physical. I recommend spending one dollar per category, but you don’t have to. Write down as many things you want (GET YOUR LAZY ASS UP AND GO GET A PEN!) and narrow it down to the five most bad ass things you would wish for yourself. Black Belt? Rock Star in a band? Become a millionaire? Run a marathon? Have giant muscles? Find someone who loves you? Know how to draw comic book figures? Race motorcycles? Be an Actor? Take some time on this exercise. It’s $1 per item and you can only pick 5. Don’t let any disabilities or bad past experiences get in the way. The idea behind this exercise is that we’re talking a perfect ‘wishes-come-true-world’.
Once those $5 are spent the wish-fulfillment continues. Now you get to pick 2 experiences you’d like to have. This could be a cross country trip on a Ducati—or a 2 week trip to Egypt or Africa or Hawaii—(or it could be as simple as doing two chicks at the same time, Lawrence). Perhaps you’d like to know what it feels like to catch a snake or survive in the wild for a week alone. Write these two things down, too.
Alright I’m going to stop here. Work on those seven items above. I’ll be back.