The Future Won’t Be What You Expect | Pip Milburn

We all know deep down that the future is uncertain. While we can plan for particular outcomes, reality and chaos have a habit of throwing our lives off track, ensuring that we end up somewhere we never expected to be. While it is the universal experience of everyone we know, we never expect it because of the high level of propaganda we experience from those around us throughout our lives. 

The problem goes something like this: our parents, teachers and bosses continually tell us that we live in a predictable universe. If we work hard, study in the evenings and are polite to the people around us, we’ll eventually get to wherever we want to be. The universe, in their view, rewards our virtues. 

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Unfortunately, that’s not how the actual world works. There’s nothing in nature that keeps score on how hard you try or how many people you help. All that matters are the events that happen and how they interact with each other. You can do everything right and still wind up in an undesirable location in your life. It’s just the way things go sometimes. 

Romantic Planning

Many people fall into the trap of what I call “romantic planning.” The idea here is that your life will follow a particular desirable course. For most people it goes something like this: you go to school, get a qualification, start a career related to that qualification, meet somebody you love and live with that person happily ever after. At the end of your life, you’ll endure a quick illness and die in your sleep. 

You can immediately see some plot holes in that story, just observing the experience of the people around you. Some people drop out of education altogether. Others get their degrees but aren’t able to get into their chosen field. Many of the people who do get the jobs they want eventually find them unfilling, poorly paid, or otherwise not what they expected. Romantic relationships are a disaster, and very few people are happy. Even fewer are happy and stay together until the bitter end. 

Speaking of the end of life, that doesn’t always go to plan either, as funeral directors will tell you. There are no certainties and guarantees in life. It’s something we must all accept, but few of us do. 

What Does Real Planning Look Like?

So, with that said, what does real planning look like? What can you do to accommodate an uncertain world and still strive to get to where you want to go? 

The trick is to forget all of the programming and propaganda that tries to pull the wool over your eyes and instead to see the world for what it is. 

Take a small step towards where you want to go. Start by considering what you can do now that is important to you and really matters. It could be something as simple as going for a jog to improve your health or sending out a resume to a different employer. After that, keep taking steps. They’ll soon accumulate. But always remember not to take any of it for granted. 

*This is a collaborative post.

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