Failure To Imagine - How Your Life Can Improve With Awareness, Thoughtfulness & Action
A very interesting phrase resurfaced this week due to the recent events in Washington. This post has ZERO to do with politics, but I did want to capitalize (pun intended) on how these three simple words can transform your life if you open up your mind to the process.
This phrase has been around for several decades, but maybe the most memorable use was after the attacks of 9/11. One writer suggested that the 'success' of the enemy was not brought about by the breakdown of intelligence or coordination. Both of those things were available in abundance. Our collective downfall as a country was the failure to imagine such evil intentions and the extreme measures our adversaries would take to further their cause.
The phrase ‘failure to imagine’ was used again this week in an attempt to explain away lack of preparedness and a total inability to either read the writing on the wall (of social media) or the choice to ignore it.
How often do each of us do that in our daily lives? Are we guilty of being short-sighted and rob ourselves of the benefits of taking steps to improve our future selves? An article in Psychology Today talks about the trap some people believe themselves to be in. They live in a small orbit of family, friends, jobs, and can't envision a path forward from good to better.
It offers the idea that true fulfillment requires we need to "first imagine a life that transcends" our current vision. In other words, we need to embrace both short-term goals as well as long-term ones.
So how do all these lofty words and ideals translate into a better life for YOU?
It starts with intentional thoughtfulness. The ability to make informed choices and take deliberate action without an immediate reward. We live in an instant world. From microwaves to ATM machines, to Amazon Prime 2 day delivery, we have grown accustomed to having what we want (or think we want), right NOW!
And even though NOW is where we live, we should plan and prepare for the many nows that will hopefully come later. Think of it as your life's version of the decades' old candy:
You can (and should) enjoy your life now while still planning for the later.
Here are a few places to start.
Imagine A Healthier You
Sure, maybe your blood pressure, glucose levels, and ideal weight are spot on. Congrats!
Don't be fooled into believing that your food and exercise decisions today won't affect your overall health and wellness in the years to come. And you do want years to come.... right?
Even if you currently struggle with certain medical conditions, it is never too late to try and do better. Try to see past the immediate desire for a double cheeseburger and 'imagine' being around to play with your grandchildren or feeling up to a rousing game of golf or tennis in your retirement.
And be careful to heed the advice of your doctor. You should not put off taking medications or having preventative tests. Both of these can help you live a longer, healthier life.
Imagine Happier Relationships
The energy and passion of young love is the subject of many books, poems, and songs. What they fail to accurately represent is the hard work involved in maintaining that love.
It is all too easy to get caught up in what feels good now and what my needs are today. Being selfish is a common roadblock to a long-term love affair.
Nurture and commitment are the cornerstones of any successful relationship. Romantic or otherwise.
Forgiving and also being able to ask for forgiveness in return. The resolve to push through the hard times. The dedication when the fun flat-lines and struggles show up. The understanding that most storms ends with a rainbow and that beautiful symbol of conquering the squall is best shared hand-in-hand and together.
It is necessary through the difficult times (and even the good ones), to 'imagine' what your relationship will look like in years to come. Envision growing old together. Picture yourselves as the cute old couple that everyone wants to be.
Then set about the work to make that picture a reality.
Imagine Financial Security
In these uncertain times, I'm not sure what financial security even looks like. I wrestle every day with debt vs savings vs what to do with my 401K. But I do know this, long range financial security doesn't just happen.
There is a fine line between enjoying your life today and setting aside for a rainy day. I am not an advocate of never reaping the fruits of your labor. It is OK to occasionally buy something that makes you happy, look great, or feel better.
I am a big believer in family vacations and memorable experiences. If you save every penny your entire life and never have a beautiful memory of that life, I'm not sure that is the picture of success.
On the flip side, you should balance what you spend for today's pleasures with saving for those you want tomorrow. That can be easier said than done for some, and I understand that. But even small steps will add up over time.
Cut out unnecessary expenses for certain conveniences or subscriptions. Look for ways to save just a few dollars here and there, and then set aside those dollars for your future. There are apps that will help you invest or if that thought scares you (it does me), simply save them.
The key is to 'imagine' your future as being self-sufficient and independent. That you have the financial freedom to support yourself without working until the very end. Those goals start with wise spending choices today.
Imagine The Fulfillment Of Your Dreams
While all the above are worthwhile and important, this one is probably the nearest to my heart.
There are more articles, encouragement, and tools available today than ever in the quest for the fulfillment of dreams and goals. The problem for some traces back to the issue above about wanting to see immediate results.
The beginning painter's work will probably not immediately go to a museum.
The musician's first song will most likely not win a Grammy.
My first book did not end up on the New York Times Best Seller's List.
There are rare (and exciting) moments when the novice reaches the pinnacle of the mountain with their original endeavor. However, for most of us, it takes time, work, sweat, and patience.
But my advice will ALWAYS be to never give up. The goal should not be perfection or recognition. It should be to persist and hone your craft or vision. To be the best version of you. To grow. Learn. Improve.
And to 'imagine' reaching your goals. To plan and implement the steps involved believing you will succeed. And then measure that success not only on monetary gain or prestige, but personal satisfaction and undeniable accomplishment.
Imagine Your Potential
My Hopefuls, it is my goal today to encourage each of you to imagine your potential. In all areas of your life. To not settle for just good enough. To not believe this is all there is. To limit yourself to the mundane.
But to purposefully visualize the life you can have.
Never let your life or your dreams fall victim to the failure to imagine. The road ahead is full of promise, love, goodness, and HOPE.
And with that in mind....
Hope With Abandon
If this article spoke to you, please like and share.