Your Future | My Future: What will life look like?
A Day When I Remembered – Forwards
When I was in Year 12, studying for my final exams, I caught a glimpse of myself in the just-turned-off TV screen. There I was, 17-years-old, and about to launch into my adult life.
My teen-woman self.
I gazed at my reflection, and memorised the image I saw in the greeny-blackness. I wondered what my life would look like when I turned 40. When I turned 50.
I could only hope that I would be healthy, happy, and perhaps, maybe, look a little like that 17-year-old gazing back at me!
As I look back on that day, it’s like I was remembering forward.
A dream of a dream. Time yet to unfold, but seen in the distance.
It was just like we look back and see what happened from afar, only I was looking forward. Have you ever done that?
Strangely, it didn’t cross my mind to think about being older than my fifties. I had no idea how to look further than that.
Because, for me as a 17-year-old, imagining my future life was like looking ahead while canoeing on a rushing river. The water coursed over wide flat areas, along gullies, and into deep ravines. There, mapped out ahead, some milestones loomed up ahead . . . “university”, “marriage” and “children”.
“Mother-of-the-Bride” was there. And “Grandma” too. But then the river, quite suddenly, plunged over the edge of a waterfall.
To envisage life beyond the age my mother was when she died was impossible. Like that river, my imaginings appeared to abruptly end. You can read how that tragedy happened HERE >>>
What could your life look like?
There is “a given” in life that you have no control over. A looming date which is always there. Unspoken. Rarely thought about. It’s like Damocles’ sword, which forever reminded him his end was just a hair’s breadth away.
It’s the mysterious date of your death, which is unknown. It will complete your life cycle. Between your date-of-birth and date-of-death, your existence stretches, like that river of mine. And right now, you live somewhere between those dates.
The days gone by are known; and the days ahead are unlived, unseen, and can only be imagined.
Do you ever wonder what your future could look like?
Prepare for Your Future
As you treasure each of your days, preparing for your future is a good thing to do.
In biblical times, the idea of thinking about the future was also a puzzle. As you can read in the letter from Paul the Apostle to the good people in Corinth…
When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways.
For now we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face. My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood.
Yes, one day you WILL understand everything about your life. The Trials. The Hardships. The Questions. The Triumphs. The Whys. Everything.
But amazingly, between today, and your date-of-death, you have the ability to change what happens next. You have power. You don’t have to be dragged down by the past. Your future is in your hands.
How To Envisage The Future
To imagine what life could look like, we all gather up information already known, and wonder (or wander) into the future. Cues come from different sources, but mostly we’re not really aware of them.
Perhaps you get an idea from:
* Family members
For example, my older sisters married at 21, and while I didn’t deliberately aim for that age, well, that’s when I tied the knot.
* Preconceived ideas
It was just assumed my sisters and I would go to university, and funnily enough, we all did.
* Decisions we make along the way
- Perhaps as you were growing up you decided on some course of action. For me, I decided to be a teacher when I was quite young.
- Or more recent decisions might cancel out earlier ones. However, as a teen I decided I really was NOT cut out to be a teacher. I had no more dreams about teacher training after that. It was a strong decision about my future.
Yes, we dream. Each one of us pulls these ideas together into an incomplete thought about who we will become. Amazingly, we often turn out to be what we dreamed about. Often it’s a conscious thought and plan; but frequently, we make our choices on the run, and somehow our life’s journey takes us there.
This is where your choices and your words to yourself, your plans and your hopes and dreams can really make a difference in your future. Believe me.
A Defining Person in your Life
A couple of years ago – in my imaginary canoe – I reached that waterfall moment. The life I could not imagine when I was a teen-woman came as I reached my mother’s age. It was my glass ceiling. You can read about my overwhelm HERE.
But even now, the image of my 17-year-old-self in the blank TV screen is with me. Have I done that young girl’s dreams justice? I truly hope so.
I had a reference point as a 17-year-old. My mother’s age at death clouded my future. But I didn’t let that swamp me. I made other choices and now I am here, alive and kicking, well beyond her age of death. Yes. I made choices about my future.
Your connection with your mother is the most primary of all relationships, and unconsciously, you draw on her experiences. Your mother’s life informs your life. Like it or not, your mother defines you. Maybe a lot. Maybe a little. But you do view your life in relation to hers.
Thankfully, as I discovered, you don’t have to let her life limit yours.
Because your connection with your mother is the most primary of all relationships, unconsciously, you draw on her experience.
Imagine it! What could your life look like?
It’s always a good time to ask God to show you his picture of you. He knows you from beginning to end. (See Psalm 139:16) He’s happy to give you a glimpse of what he wants for you.
Read this, from the Bible book of Jeremiah:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
If you have never thought about how your future might unfold, let me encourage you to do it. How else do you go where you want to go, unless you imagine it first? It becomes quite exciting to think about what your life could look like.
And if you have already thought about it, do you realise how powerful your presuppositions are? Envisaging your future, in reality, shapes the person you become.
So take some time to do a little more imagining than I ever did at 17. Write it down. Make it plain. (That’s what is says in Habakkuk 2:2)
What Your Life Could Look Like
You could do this exercise in your journal. Here’s a blog post about the art of journal writing.
1. Think about your future in five years’ time:
- Where do you live? What sort of housing? Who do you live with?
- Are you employed? If so what do you do? If you don’t work – what do you do?
- Are you well? What is your state of health? Do you look different?
- Write down 10 things (yes 10!) you would love to have done by then.
- Write a letter to your older self, encouraging her for having reached her dreams.
2. Dream a little
Even if you have lost your mother, as I did, try to dream beyond her age at death. Write down what your life could look like, and then choose to dream beyond that.
I understand there is a blank there for you. But actually, you are not constrained here because you have no role model, and the sky’s the limit! Ask yourself, what sort of person you would like to be. I mean, really think about it.
3. Extend it
Answer those same four questions above, but think about your life at 50, and 60. (Or 70, or older if you like!)
4. And next…
Now, choose ONE of those dreams and make a plan. Step-by-step, map out what needs to happen to get to that place. Of course, it’s important to add realistic time-frames.
Because it’s true, nothing big ever happens by mistake. Small steps will get you there, as long as you keep moving forward.
Place your list and letter in an envelope, or a safe place on your computer. Revisit those dreams every so often, and make plans for them, one by one. However, you will be surprised by what comes to pass. Some of those crazy ideas will happen, just because you started thinking about them.
Amazingly, you CAN imagine what your future could look like!