Who are you in the future?

When thinking about long term goals, those goals that are several years out, I think the common inclination is to think about what you want to do in that time. For example, a common five year goal might be to be at a specific point in your career or occupation, a certain level of income, to travel to a specific place, or an ambitious fitness goal. While these are all worthwhile goals to focus on, I would argue that in order to best achieve these goals there is an essential question that one first must ask, brainstorm, and meditate on. In fact, these goals should only be based on, and a natural progression from, the following exercise…

Get a large blank piece of paper and a pen or pencil. I recommend paper because this exercise should be done with immediacy and no editing or judgement. The task is to write down any words or phrases that pop into mind. Ask yourself the following question by writing it at the top of the page:

Who am I in X years?

(Where X is any number you want. I like five because it is distant enough to be achievable but not so much as to not also be accountable.)

OK, now go! The method does not matter. If you are a mind map sort of person, do that. Outlines, essay, sketches, just a bunch of words scribbled down, no matter. Like I said, the point is to answer the question with any words or ideas that pop to mind. Even if it is bat scratch crazy, capture it. You will sort it all out later (and I’ll cover that in another post).

There are some other things I’d like to mention about this exercise. First, the phrasing on the question is important. It is not "Who do I want/wish/hope to be?" because that gives you an out. This is not so much about aspirations. This is about projection. This is about putting yourself in the mind of the person you are in the future. This is about the kind of person you really think you are at that time. It will likely not look all that different than who you are now except for the things you wish to change or improve. If you are currently a smoker you might find that, in your five years from now mind, you may find you are a non-smoker. Meat eaters may find a vegetarian when mentally projecting themselves. You may find you are a world leader or circus clown. But, whatever you find don’t judge! Just capture it and move along.

This exercise will form the foundation of your long term goals. Because, none of those will be remotely achievable without this. For instance, how realistic is it for your to set a five year goal of completing a marathon if you do not also see yourself as an active three-to-five time a week runner five years from now as well?

Also, because this is a free form "no judgment" exercise, when using it to plan your goals you will be rewarded with new goals to consider that you might otherwise have not known you had. To use my own mind map pictured above as an example, the word "Monk" popped into my head, I captured it, and I have no idea why it came to mind. But, when beginning the work on my five year goals, I will now need to figure out where that fits and what that means for a happily married father of a little girl who works for himself full time and has many other obligations that "Monk" is in conflict with. Perhaps it doesn’t belong and I’ll ignore it for now. Perhaps it simply speaks to a desire for a deeper and more meaningful spiritual practice than I have today. Perhaps it means a complete change of course. Regardless, at least I am now forced to consider it and where and if it fits into my long term goals.

I encourage you to try this exercise yourself. At the very least, it will help you see for yourself what things are important enough to you today to make sure are a part of your future.

Right Effort

Here is what my current favorite online Buddhist resource has to say about the precept of Right Effort:

Right Effort means cultivating an enthusiasm, a positive attitude in a balanced way. Like the strings of a musical instrument, the amount of effort should not be too tense or too impatient, as well as not too slack or too laid back. Right Effort should produce an attitude of steady and cheerful determination.

In order to produce Right Effort, clear and honest thoughts should be welcomed, and feelings of jealousy and anger left behind. Right Effort equates to positive thinking, followed by focused action.

Drop a stone into still water, and the water will respond with exactly the right amount of ripples for the size of the stone. A smaller stone will produce less ripples. A larger stone will produce more. But, it will always be in proportion and never more or less. In a similar way, Right Effort encourages us to apply the appropriate amount of action dictated by the intention.

In the last few months, I have worked hard to apply this idea to my social media approach as well. I’m certainly not perfect at it. There have been many times that I have failed. But, in general, if you were to look at my feed you’d find that I try not to post too often or too infrequently. I do my best to find balance between the two. I participate when directly engaged. I try to make sure that what I’m posting is of a positive nature. I try to only post things that I believe are worth the time of those who might be reading it. I rarely engage in debate or argument— and when I do my intention is to try to learn from an opposing view, not to rebuke it. And, more than anything else, I try to be helpful in any way I see that I can be.

GORUCK Kit Bag 32L — A Brief Review

The GORUCK Kit Bag 32L is the perfect weekender style bag for those looking for something with a utilitarian vibe and, like all GORUCK bags, one built to last a lifetime.

Sometimes, you don’t need to pack light and go fast. You don’t need the hands-free benefits of a ruck. You just need a decent bag to hold a few days worth of clothes and sundries to throw into the trunk of the car or overhead bin and get away for bit. This is the perfect bag for that.

In the photo above, I have it packed for a four day trip to our family cabin. As you can see, it looks great but it is also highly functional. Besides the pockets on the side there are two similarly sized zippered mesh pockets inside. There is another inside zippered pocket that can hold small documents like a passport or Field Notes notebook. But the main draw is the spacious main compartment. A couple of pair of jeans, a couple of pairs of shorts, a few t-shirts, a couple of long sleeves, socks, underwear, and my toiletry bag are all inside with a few miscellaneous items too. This thing can hold a fair amount of stuff and not appear like it is going to break at the seams. It’s made for action and abuse.

It’s a fair price at $85.00. But, GORUCK is currently selling a great bundle deal with the Kit 32L and the Tough Bag (formerly, the Brick Bag) for only $89.00. The Tough Bag makes a great stuff sack. I roll mine up empty, pack it, and then use it for stuffing my dirty clothes in when in the road. It’s an amazing bargain for both items.

Bottom line, if you are in the market for such a bag this deserves your consideration.

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