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When I started planning out this post, I had a plan involved for starting to discover that “first step” that I spoke about yesterday. After taking some notes and racking thoughts around my brain, I began to realize that David Allen of Getting Things Done had already shown me a grand place to start, just in an entirely different concept. In his books, talks, articles, etc. David mentions the Horizons of Focus. Without getting into immense detail, it is basically a breakdown of how you view everything from the big picture of your all-encompassing goal in life and existence all the way down to what it is a person should be doing in the next twenty-four hours. In between those two extremes, David asks his users to look into what sort of hats they wear on a daily basis (parent, student, spouse, employee), what your vision is for the next five years of your life (good employee interview type stuff), and how what you are doing today is helping to reach those goals and is correlated to a hat you wear.
So when I look at an entire generation of high school students, especially those that fall under that apparently smart umbrella, it really comes down to dialoguing your future. Focus is a great tool for getting things done, and David knows this just as well as anyone with half a brain knows it once they are aware of how the two correlate. The choices a person makes on where to place their focus are based almost entirely on their current situations and thought processes. This is important: these are variables and it is absolutely alright if they change over time, as new information and new experiences can affect those thought processes and create new situations that might be way more important to focus on than what you were focused on a week ago. It might be related to flip-flopping or indecisiveness, but who cares? This is not all about locking down at a decision at the age of fifteen that you are going to be forced to live with for all eternity. Get that out of your head right now.
There are three keys:
- Asking the “right” questions.
- Asking all the questions.
- Accepting all positives and all negatives.
There is a problem among imaginative thinkers where he or she will decide to focus on every possible outcome of a given situation and, almost always, will focus on the negatives far more than the positives. It is a harbinger of procrastination and hides creative work behind fear. I know it exists and I still allow it to effect me. It is a battle that is tough to fight and nearly impossible to win for any longer than it takes to actually get something done. Thankfully that is all that is truly necessary, especially when it comes to simple productivity (which broken down to its core is nothing more than just creating something, period). In this exercise, though, it is important to accept all of those outcomes, but also to accept that only one of them, or perhaps none of them, can happen.
But before all of that, you ask questions. You ask yourself questions. You sit down and break down your life and your potential and you ask every possible question that could affect the rest of your life. It can be as focused as what kind of car you want to drive and as open-ended as your eventual retirement or even, scarily enough, the type of person you want to marry. Of course, like previously stated, these things are going to change. If you always think about driving the same car and marrying the same woman that is fine. If it works, fantastic. But remember that from fifteen to twenty to thirty, whatever, those ideas will change. On the negative side, these changes could come after you are already driving a car or are already married to someone that might have fit what the eighteen year old you wanted but the twenty two year old you is beating their head off the wall because you are stuck living with a decision you thought was correct four years prior. This may or may not explain the divorce rate spike, I’m not trying to make that correlation at all, but I am sure there is some percentage it could apply to.
Ask all the questions. Try to ask the right ones first, but then allow yourself to float to the outliers of interrogation and force yourself to mentally live out your life from the place you are in now, knowing that it is almost meant to change, but does not absolutely have to. What is a right question for one person may be an outlier for someone else, but they are still needing to be asked. By living out your life mentally first, it can allow you to design a “physical” road map to get to the places you want to go. By creating flexible, flowing goals that are achievable from where you are now but can be modified to fit your desires.
I originally hoped that this sort of experience could be good for any level of student, but I soon decided that the middle teens years are much better suited for this particular exercise, mainly because I have yet to discover a good, clean, actually usable method to help a child design their future from that young of an age. I think the elementary school age group has numerous other problems with the systems they live with, and by changing those systems it may in fact make implementing this system much easier when the time comes, but that is a rant for another time. All you have to know for this is to follow those three keys above, look for any pursue-able answer even if it is not the so-called ‘right’ answer, allow your mind to wander mentally through your future, and accept changes when they come. Hopefully, and I say that with a hint of prayer, this will begin to help people that are stuck in that position of having the world expecting great things from them and having absolutely no idea what to do next.