Are You Leaving Your Future to Chance?

change mathias östlund

Let’s go through a brief history of You;

A long, long time ago, you came into this world as a naked, screaming baby who couldn’t do shit. You didn’t know where, who, or even what you were, and your interaction with the world was limited to screaming, pooping, and angrily flailing your arms.

Fast-forward through a ton of changes, and we find the present-day You – a fully functioning adult who perfectly fills his role in society. There aren’t a lot of similarities left between you and that screaming poop-machine that once bore your name.

Countless tiny changes, both physical and mental, have all contributed to shaping you into the person you are today.

And odds are, these changes have kept on happening right up until this very moment. You’re not the same person you were last year, or even three months ago. And although it might not be apparent yet, you’re not even the same person you were five minutes ago.

You, as a person, have gone through these minor changes every single day of your life so far. And yet, for some reason, most people seem to believe that there won’t ever be any more of these changes in the future.

We believe that this version of ourselves is the end of the line; that we’re as smart as we’ll ever be; that our views on the world won’t ever change; and that everything will remain exactly the same as it is right now.

But alright, logically we might know that this is bullshit. On some rational level, most of us probably realize that we will keep on changing, just as we always have in the past. But intuitively, we just have a very hard time embracing this fact.

We can’t imagine how we’ll look at the world a decade from now. We can’t see ourselves ever changing our mind about politics. And we certainly can’t imagine ourselves being any smarter than we are right now.

And this inability to see ahead of ourselves has some very unfortunate consequences when it comes to any future changes we might encounter.

By ignoring the fact that we will continue to change, we are leaving this change entirely in the hands of external forces. We let chance encounters determine what experiences we have, we let the TV decide what new information we learn tonight, and we leave any political change of heart in the hands of the people campaigning for this party or that.

But by accepting that we will change – and embracing it – we can take charge of this change ourselves, and make it happen in the direction of our own choosing.

Choosing Your Direction

While it’s often impossible to know exactly where we’ll end up in the future, we can still influence the process of change by choosing in which direction we want to go.

Think of it like being stuck on a raft in the middle of the ocean. At this point, you have two choices; either keep on drifting aimlessly, or get busy paddling. Either way, you’ll end up somewhere – the only difference is that paddling lets you choose in which direction you want to go.

The constant changes in our own lives work in much the same way; we can either choose to ignore them, and hope that the currents of life will eventually take us where we want to go. Or we can choose a direction for our own future, and start paddling.

On the one hand, we can choose to embrace this constant change, and make it work for us. We can start investing our time, energy and expertise into our future selves, and make sure that the power of compounding is working in our favor.

Or we can choose to do nothing at all, throw the paddles overboard and leave it in the hands of external forces to decide where we should end up.

Whichever option you choose, you’re eventually going to end up somewhere very different from where you are right now. The only question is; are you going to choose the direction yourself, or leave it entirely up to chance?

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2 Comments

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  1. I used to say this all the time when I was in my 20s. “5 years from now, I’m (hopefully) going to be somewhere, why not choose where? It takes patience to really think like that when things are aimed at immediate gratification. But honestly, thinking a few steps ahead has paid big dividends for me. Awesome post! Thanks for the reminder :)

    1. Thanks for commenting! Awesome to hear that someone has actually succeeded using this principle!

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