Are you hiding from your future?

by Alan Hosking: Publisher of HR Future, South Africa's human strategy magazine, and a Leadership Renewal Coach for senior executives.
Over the past decade, the business community has become increasingly obsessed with the future. Consultants and trainers on every corner shout about the importance of future proofing yourself and your organisation, and every executive and business leaders worth their salt portrays themselves as an expert on the future.

At the start of every year, a posse of experts wants to tell us what the year ahead (the future) holds, and this year has been no different.

So, yes, the future really is important as that’s where we’re all going ... or are we?

Without realising it, many people inadvertently hide from the future. By that, I mean that they think and act in a certain way or fail to think and act in a certain way that results in them entering a future that’s not of their choice.

Here, then are ways in which you may be hiding from your future.

Living in the past

You will inevitably move in the direction of your focus. If you are focused and fixated by what happened in the past, you will miss the opportunities that the future presents to you. This is not a new idea but is still just as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. Last year is now officially just that ... last year. You may have done well last year or you may have messed up badly, but it’s time to move on. You can’t allow yourself to remain a prisoner of your past by allowing your focus to be on what happened rather than on what you want to happen.

If you realise you’ve been living in the past and not the present, make a conscious decision today to “move house” – to start living in the present which is your moment of power – the only place you can ever do anything.

Refusing or failing to grow

Take a good look at who and what you are today. Are you a different person from the person you were this time last year? Are you more mature, more knowledgeable, more understanding, more empathetic, more adaptable, more resilient, more competent than you were last year. If not, you just haven’t grown. While growing older is inevitable and unpreventable, “growing up” is optional. There are many people in their forties, fifties, sixties and beyond who have never grown into maturity and so forth.

If you realise that you have merely been existing rather than growing over the past years, this year, give yourself the opportunity to grow by learning new skills and developing new qualities. If you’re not growing, you’re slowly dying. Your choice.

Avoiding discomfort

All creatures crave comfort, whether it’s the family dog, your favourite aunt or yourself. It takes sacrifice to step out of your proverbial comfort zone to explore new frontiers and go beyond the horizons you’ve been accustomed to.

Those of us who are parents will recall how we’ve had to deal with young children who resisted doing something or taking medicine because it involved a level of discomfort. As we matured, we came to understand that our aversion to discomfort had to be overcome in order to enjoy a greater benefit – like taking unpleasant medicine in order to get better again.

As you explore new territory and opportunities, you’re going to encounter resistance in yourself to any discomfort that presents itself. Put on your big girl or big boy pants, suck it up and bear the discomfort in the interests of a greater prize.

Fearing the unknown

The ugly sister of fearing discomfort is a fear of the unknown. To learn or discover anything new, we have to overcome our fear of the unknown. If those intrepid explorers hundreds of years ago had never overcome their fear of the unknown, the world wouldn’t have been discovered. It takes courage to go where you haven’t gone before.

Just so, the future is unknown simply because we’ve never gone there before. When you overcome your fear of the unknown and find the courage to go where you haven’t gone before, you can create a future for yourself and your loved ones that is better than the present you are currently experiencing.

This year, make a conscious decision to stop hiding from your future by no longer living in the past, actively growing yourself, embracing discomfort where necessary and no longer fearing the unknown.

At the end of the year, you will be a richer, more fulfilled and hopefully more successful person. What’s not to like?

Useful resources:
HR Future
HR Future is South Africa's only independent, most forward thinking human resource magazine with the richest content wealth of HR related issues on the continent of Africa to help executives recruit, manage, train, reward and retain the best talent.
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