Whether you’re the type of person who has always had a clearly defined path for the future or you just follow where life takes you, one thing is certain: No one can predict the future. Unexpected, sometimes even traumatic events can happen to anyone. Plans can quickly go off course. As the old saying goes, the best-laid plans often go awry.
But as uncertain as our futures may be, creating a plan and preparing for the unexpected can help us stay on course and create the life that we want—regardless of the roadblocks we may face. Here are some tips for getting started.
You have to look back before you can look forward. It’s common for people who’ve had an unpleasant past to carry it with them, using it as an excuse for their behavior in the present. You can’t allow your past to dictate your future, but you can learn from it and use it as an opportunity for growth. Be honest with yourself about past events that may be holding you back, and commit to letting them go so you can move forward.
Be willing to work hard for your goals. I’ve noticed a disturbing trend, particularly among the younger generation, to lean heavily on others for support. Whether it’s expecting parents to pay for college or living at home while “figuring things out” well into their 30s, many young people seem a lot more comfortable talking about their goals than actually taking the action needed to reach them. This is in direct contrast to a population of Americans who came to this country from places where upward mobility wasn’t possible. They worked hard, grateful for the opportunity to achieve their dreams and support their families. Now, these people are some of the most successful in America, while their children are struggling to move forward. If you find yourself floundering, take a close look at how you’re spending your time. Assess what you’re actually doing to reach your goals and move forward.
Be prepared to deal with setbacks. No one’s life is perfect. Everyone will have their challenging seasons. We’ll lose loved ones. We’ll lose jobs. We may encounter financial difficulties or have health problems. Bad things are bound to happen—the key is how you deal with them. When life takes a turn for the worse, it’s time for you to get busy getting your options in line. Having some financial security often helps a great deal, and can give you more options for dealing with problems. But even more important is that you’re on solid emotional footing. If you’re mentally prepared for the unexpected, you’ll face it, deal with it, and ultimately learn from it—and keep moving forward toward your future.
For more advice like this, check out my book, The Reward of Knowing and start making a plan for your future.