The 16th President of the United States, President Abraham Lincoln, is often credited with saying, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” This very statement paints a clear picture of a man who believed wholeheartedly in remaining steadfast to his dreams, in staying persistent, and in never giving up, no matter what trials or tribulations might be faced.
But when he said that the best way to predict the future was to create it, he wasn’t just talking about being persistent; he was talking about using the eternal power of thought, the very fundamental energy that all life and reality is born from, to help manifest your dreams. Some in the Law of Attraction circles might have even considered him their most fervent standard bearer.
Still, you might be thinking, sure, for someone as successful as the former President Lincoln, it’s easy to say that the best way to predict the future is to create it. But did you know that Abraham Lincoln, for a large part of his life, considered even himself a failure? He failed far more than he ever succeeded in life, but people don’t remember him for the failures, they remember him for the successes.
Let’s look at just how many times Lincoln failed in life but was still able to hold fervently to the notion that anyone could predict the future by creating it:
- 1832 (23 years old): He lost his job and also lost his election bid for the State Legislature
- 1833 (24 years old): His business, a general store based in New Salem, Illinois failed, even though the economy was booming at the time.
- 1835 (26 years old): The love of his life, Ann Rutledge died of Typhoid fever
- 1838 (29 years old): Defeated for his bid as Speaker in the Illinois House of Representatives
- 1848 (39 years old): Failed to secure an appointment for Commissioner of the General Land Office in Washington D.C.
- 1858 (49 years old): He was defeated in his bid to become a U.S. Senator
So, someone who failed in business, and early on in professional politics, still believed that you could predict the future by creating it. Of course, this is the same man who was elected to the office of the President of the United States in 1860, self-studied his way into the law profession and eventually aided in abolishing slavery.
Lincoln learned the humbling lessons that only failure can teach you in life. It’s because of his early failures that he was able to achieve so much later on. There was a deeper purpose there, something else that was driving him that allowed him to predict his future by simply creating it. It all became crystal clear to him. That mentality didn’t set in right away; it happened over time.
How to Create Your Future
Many years ago, I wrote this book called The Silk Merchant, which followed the journey of a young man living in squalor who had aspired to achieve his dreams. Set in ancient times, the purpose of the book was to convey the wisdom and principles of success in their most basic and simplest forms, things that many people disregard these days.
Yet, I could have never written that book and conveyed those success principles had I never failed immensely and repeatedly. I still often think back to some of those failures and, admittedly, it stings a bit. But I know that they had their purpose. There was a rhyme and a reason to my failures; each and every one of them taught me something different and new, broadening my perspective and understanding about life.
Throughout all of those failures, I truly did gain the wisdom of the ages. It’s not something you learn when you’re succeeding in life. It’s hard to realize the most basic principles of life when your situation is rosy and bright. But these are the same lessons that were conveyed to Lincoln when he said that the best way to predict the future was to create it.
So, how do you go about creating your future? How do you go about crafting a life for yourself where you’ll be happy and successful, achieving all of your wildest dreams? And is it really possible to be both happy and successful at the same time? Or, is that simply not a possibility? Well, it’s possible to do all of the above and then some. But it boils down to your level of commitment.
Clearly, most people out there want to create a future that’s filled with success, love and happiness. However, when it comes down to doing the work, they either procrastinate, don’t give it their all or simply lose interest. They set goals and forget them rather than setting goals and working tirelessly towards their fruition.
The problem is that anything in life that’s worthwhile takes a lot of work. It won’t come easy by any means. So if you want to create a bigger and brighter future for yourself, you have to be willing to put in the hours. And I’m not talking about working towards someone else’s dreams. I’m talking about working on your dreams by building a business and adding real value to the world.
If you’re ready to put in the work and make the sacrifices, here are the steps you need to take in order to create your own future. While the steps might seem basic and simple, they’re vastly remote from that. What sounds simple, as most of already know, isn’t always so simple.
Step 1 — Dream Big
One absolute prerequisite to creating your future, is to first dream it up. And, if you’re going to dream, you might as well dream big. Don’t allow others’ perceptions of what’s possible influence how big you actually dream. The greatest innovators and the most successful people in the world have always dreamed big. That has always been the foundation for designing and creating the future they wanted to live in.
Don’t allow the fear of not being able to achieve your dreams to stop you from dreaming big. Too often, we’re compelled by fear, worry and anxiety, unable to really think on the grandest scales. But once you realize that it’s not the size of the fight in the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog, you’ll learn how to overcome even the most difficult circumstances in life.
However, in order to truly dream big, and to really allow your subconscious mind to process and believe in those dreams, you need to write them down. You need to set goals on paper; you can’t just do this in your mind. When you leave your dreams in your mind, that’s where they tend to stay. You need to bring them out of your mind and onto a sheet of paper or a screen in front of you.
Many people skip this step. Then, when it comes down to achieving their dreams and working hard towards something they really thought they wanted, they give up. Rather than stay persistent, they just default to their detrimental ways, employing bad habits that they know they need to quit. If this sounds familiar, or you don’t want this to happen, then you need to set your goals the right way.
Step 2 — Find Strong-Enough Reasons
What drives and compels you to lurch forward in life? Who or what do you believe in wholeheartedly with every single fiber of your being? You see, you can’t predict the future by creating it if you don’t believe in it first. That belief starts with your reasons. You need to have strong-enough reasons that you must achieve something rather than simply thinking that you should achieve something.
In a touching movie from 2006 entitled, The Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith portrayed the story of Chris Gardener, a medical-supplies salesman who suffered through the torment of being homeless for one year in order to achieve his dreams of becoming a stockbroker. If you haven’t already seen this movie, stop what you’re doing and go watch it right now. Yes, right now.
That movie was by far one of the most inspirational stories ever conveyed on film. But the reason it was so compelling was in Smith’s ability to really connect with that character. You could really feel that pain and the anguish he suffered through. But more importantly, you could really see his reasons for striving for and wanting to reach his goals.
Having a young son, as Smith did in the movie, really pushed him to do better in life. He wasn’t willing to settle for less than he deserved his son should have. That was his strong-enough reason for absolutely knowing that he had to achieve his goals. What are your reasons? Think about it carefully and really put your effort into writing this out.
I know that, in my life, anytime I really wanted to achieve something, and I mean really, really wanted to achieve something, nothing stood in my way. The goal didn’t materialize overnight. But it was the fact that I envisioned it so deeply and had such a monumental reason behind it, that I was able to see things through. I’m sure there’s been goals in your life where the same has occurred.
Step 3 — Create a Plan
It’s not enough to just dream big and have deep-rooted reasons for wanting to achieve your goals. You also need to create a plan. A goal without a plan is just a wish. If you don’t want to keep wishing you’d achieve something in life, then you have to take the time to create a roadmap of sorts. How will you get from the present point to where you want to go in life?
Not only do you need a plan, but it needs to be a massive action plan. What are all the steps you need to take to hit your milestones on the way to your goals? You need milestones so that you can stay on track towards those bigger, longer-term goals. The massive action plan will help you to design and create those steps, but it’s up to you to keep yourself accountable.
Take the time to build your plan. For each of your goals, determine how you’re going to get there. How will you save the money to start your own business? Or instill the right diet to lose the weight? And do whatever it is you’re looking to achieve? You have to get from one point to the next. That doesn’t happen overnight; it can only happen over time with the right amount of persistent action.
The plan will also allow you to determine what needs to be done, right now, towards the attainment of your goals. Use the plan to create daily MITs, or most important tasks of the day. It’s those MITs that will allow you to inch closer and closer to your goals. Take the time to write all of this down. Again, you can’t keep this stuff in your head.
Step 4 — Analyze Your Results
To get from one point to the next, you need some metric for tracking and measuring your results. No matter what goal you’re after, or whatever future you’re trying to create for yourself, you need to be able to analyze the results. Without this analysis, it’s easy to get lost in the obscurity of your results, and in turn, to lose your focus.
Analyzing your results also helps to give you some momentum. It’s in those small wins that we’re able to keep pushing towards creating the future of our dreams. However, you need some system for measuring and tracking your results without just keeping it in your head. Again, it has to be on paper or on a screen in front of you.
The best way to do this is to create a spreadsheet and actually graph your results. It’s nice to see your results as a chart over time. You can watch the chart as it goes up or down, analyzing what happened, where you succeeded and where things went wrong. This is also a great way to go back to your plan and see what’s working and what’s not, allowing you to scale things out using the Pareto Principle or change things up.
If you’re used to Excel or Google Sheets, then use one of those programs. If you want to do things more traditionally, buy a small notepad and write down your results every single day on paper. The point here is to stay consistent with this. Don’t just track for a few weeks or months then forget to do it. This has to quite literally become habitual.
Step 5 — Stay Focused and Committed
When goals are new, they’re exciting. They’re lustrous and shiny. But as time passes, those goals lose their allure. They’re not so exciting after months and even years. In fact, for the most part, we tend to forget about them after a while. But if you want to create your future and design the life of your dreams, you have to stay focused and committed.
This, as you might already know, is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that exists. It boils down to just how committed you are to your goals. Clearly, if you want to predict your future by creating it, you have to instill a certain level of belief and faith in your abilities to achieve your goals. It isn’t easy. But it’s most certainly worth it when you’re able to bring those dreams to fruition.
In order to do this, you really need to become an effective manager of your time. Since we all have the same amount of time in this world, it doesn’t boil down to how much time we have, but how wisely we use the little time that’s available to us. If you spend your time wasting it away, enthralled in pursuits that don’t serve you, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.
This is also where really good success-leaning habits come into play. When your habits are good, it’s easier to default to achieving your goals and creating a future that’s bright and filled with hope, rather than one that’s bleak and lifeless. If you don’t want to slave away at a life-sucking 9-to-5 job, and you really do want to predict the future by creating it, you have to make some serious choices and really stick it out.
This is about the Art of Persistence, plain and simple. When you harbor the principle of persistence in your heart, nothing can get in your way. No matter how many times you fail or fall down, it makes no difference. You’ll just keep getting back up again and again, which reminds me of something Sylvester Stallone’s character, Rocky Balboa once said:
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”