All of us get a limited amount of time on this planet, to live the best way we know how. We all develop goals, based on dreams that spring from our existential awareness. We do the best we can, given what internal and external resources we have.
Based on this awareness of our mortality, we all cope in different ways, in how we choose to spend our time. There are those of us that plan to an exhausting degree to curate the future we want. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are also those of us who prefer to take the free-spirited, adventurous, spontaneous approach, and let ourselves be guided by an impulse, a whim, or our relationships. Neither of these approaches are right or wrong. No matter what approach we take, we end up moving forward in time and space, and doing and being all sorts of ways.
There are ways in which all individuals end up challenged in how to care best for their future. In fact, in American culture, we place great emphasis on planning for the future, but we tend not to plan or live life in regard for protecting our future self. Our future self is who we want to become and how we want to feel in life. Who we want to be and exist as, instead of what job we want to have, how much money we want to make, and any other identity we strive for in our culture.
When we don’t protect our future self, no matter the external measurements of success we reach, or how many delightful experiences we collect, we end up investing time and energy into becoming further alienated from our deepest self, and what makes us healthy, passionate, inspired, and alive. Therefore, it is an act of self-love to protect your future development in the direction of ultimate happiness and fulfillment in being the deepest, truest version of your self.
Those of us who plan exhaustively, still deal with the curve balls of life, and need to account for what they actually have no control over. You may have a certainty about your future and feel high confidence about creating the life you want, based on exquisite organizational and executive functioning. However, because of the tendency to assert control through planning, these types may actually stifle opportunities to grow, accelerate their developmental process, and may get stuck when dealing with the wenches life throws in most larger plans. They may become so fixated on making their dream of what they want in the future happen, that they overlook they are developing and existing as a type of person now, and growing into who they will exist as, through these present experiences.
Alternately, those who float, freely, and like water streaming around the ebbs and flows of life, may also find themselves stuck and unprepared for how to deal with the givens of existence. You may have incredible spiritual, emotional, and relational intelligence, and this has gotten you far in life. But you will also reach a point in life that to effectively accomplish goals related to being and existing, there is a level of commitment to the self, to seeing these goals through, that their lifestyle has perhaps not helped them cultivate. These types may also get so caught in love and relationship, that they might effectively lose sight of whom they want to become and who they are most fulfilled existing as, because of the desire to support love and relationship.
So, for those of you who are planners, consider shifting your goals to welcoming opportunities to connect with your emotions (negative and positive), and your own pleasure and enjoyment. In addition, consider embracing your ability to get “lost” and trust in this process. Explore what makes you happy, welcome internal growth, and relax into the face of the unknown. This is not indulgence, a waste of time, or being side-tracked by hedonism, entertainment, or confusion, this is ACTUALLY allowing yourself space to exist and protect your connection with your self, and who you are becoming inside. For instance, if you want to be a mother/father, have you developed the emotional capacity and ability to deal with how little control one might have over needing to exist for your child, be patient, deal with many emotional experiences in yourself and in them, and be present for them?
And finally, for those of you who are on the other side of this spectrum, allow yourself to explore further, what your deepest goals are, of who you would like to become and exist as, and consider if there are important boundaries and action-steps that must be taken, to protect your development into this type of person. Consider if the relationships you expose yourself to, allow you to manifest the type of existence and way of being that encourage connection with your self, and support you to become that future self. Consider if there is importance in making a plan that involves committing or devoting yourself to a process that requires you stay the course, independent of whether something shiny and more exciting approaches you, and may seem easier or more pleasurable for the moment. In this case, if you want to be a mother/father one day, for instance, consider whether you have created the life habits, built the logistical or practical infrastructure, and are surrounding yourself with people who will support your existence in being a mother/father.
In essence, no matter what part of the above spectrum to you are on, ask yourself how you are protecting your future self, by tending to your personal development of self, relational skills, emotion regulation skills, executive function skills, planning, structure, and boundaries. Then go about continuing to re-calibrate this balance of how you exist on this planet, based on this dream of a future self you are building an ever-deeper connection to.