Control of the future

As I turned the calendar last Thursday to March 1st, I reflected on the picture on the top of the calendar.  The picture was of a park with benches freshly painted, blooming flowering trees, and daffodils bursting forth in brilliant yellow in a grassy field.  As I listen to the cold winter rain beating against my window just beside me, I let out a deep sigh.  According to the calendar, I have only to wait until that magical day of March 21st for the first day of spring to arrive and like magic, the cold memories of winter will burst forth into that picture on my calendar, right?   Well, not so fast Missy.  I know full well in the Northeast where I live, we have seen several inches of snow fall as late as April 9th!  So don’t get yourself ahead of mother nature here.

My little story about the calendar is a lot like what we want in our lives.  We want more than anything to be able to control our future so we can plan and see the road that lies in front of us.  But, can we really control anything in our lives?  I coach clients around this every single day.   People want to feel like they have control over something so they don’t feel so out of control in other areas of their lives.  You are not alone in this feeling.   I know from my experience that every person I interact with feels this way in their life to some extent.  Some view this place of not nothing as fun, a mystery to be solved, an adventure waiting to happen.  Others dread it and become anxiety ridden at the prospect of not knowing something.

Think of it like this;  you have just won a two week all expenses paid vacation to any place you choose.   What is the first thing you would do?   Are you a person who does research and plan every minute of every day during those two weeks?   Or are you a person who lets the adventure unfold as you enjoy every day of that vacation?  You might know that you want to visit some famous sites and eat at a famous restaurant or try some regional specialty, but it doesn’t matter when you do those things.

I once heard Condoleezza Rice express this position beautifully when she said:  “….we need to leave room for serendipity in our lives….”  How perfect is that.  Leave your for the unexpected, the joy of the unknown, serendipity!

Not one of us can control the future.  Not one of us.   Many have tired and failed and even died trying.  The word that comes to my mind when I coach people on this topic of control is “miserable”.   If you have this mindset of trying to control what happens, when it happens, how it happens and with whom it happens, you are in for pure misery.  The more we try to manipulate, plan, scheme and direct the more tied up in knots we become.

If I asked you to predict where you’d be today, in 2002 what would you have told me?   Did the last 10 years unfold the way you planned?

What do you think?

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