“Maybe it’s time to be moving your own goalposts!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
In the last 48 hours, I’ve seen change – a change that helps to clarify the concept of ‘control.’
You will know I use the phrase “change your future before the future changes you” – a LOT. It’s my favorite mindset moment to help people move into their ‘next.’
Two circumstances have just clarified for me the importance of that phrase. One dear friend of long-standing – she goes back to a time before my sons were born! – decided to leave her career and working life for a time. She’s not certain if she will go back; a loved one is ill; there is less joy to be had in the job; it’s time that she carves out some important time for herself Another friend just saw his job terminated; his sudden new career status of ‘unemployed’ was certainly not a part of his plan. He’s now at. the start of that awful process of figuring out what’s next – but first must move through the ‘seven stages of employment termination.‘ I think he is still in the shock phase. He’s a smart guy – I know he will bounce back and find something that fits his mindset – but it will be a difficult process.
One friend made a decision to change her life; the other has had his life changed. Both of these changes in circumstances ran into my head and had me thinking – how do we decide to become the person who controls our circumstances, and not have circumstances determined for us?
It goes to the heart of that phrase, “Change your future before the future changes you!”
Many of us find ourselves trapped by our current careers or life circumstance; desperately unhappy, we are eager to escape but don’t know where to start. This was my life in 1989 when I found myself in the midst of a very difficult career change, and it took me a year to change it to ‘what do I like to do?’ from ‘what do I do?” That’s why the idea of ‘goalposts’ is important. and importantly, moving them before someone else moves them for you. If you think about it, the idea of moving the goalposts is usually used in the world of sports and is an allusion to cheating – but it’s not. It’s changing your plans before someone else does.
Our goals are the markers that we establish in our minds for our life, and we have an end goal in mind – the goalposts. If we want to change our life, we need to change our goals – we need to move the goalposts. I’m a big fan of these opportunities – you should:
- decide your future before others decide it for you
- determine your direction before the speed of change determines where you are going
- establish control over what comes next rather than simply letting what comes next happen to you
- instead of saying “now what?”, turn it around and say ‘here’s what!’
All of this goes to the heart of the book I wrote during Covid – Now What: Reinvention and the Role of Optimism in Finding Your New Future.
The book took a look at a variety of individuals I interviewed from my home virtual broadcast studio during the Covid-times. I needed things to do and built a show around the idea of ‘reinvention.’ Two rock stars, a meeting planner, a fireman, an ex-con, a personal trainer, and a pastor – the book explored what people did to reinvent their future. For some of them, it came before the goalposts were moved and they had the opportunity to change; for others, it came about after things changed.
Regardless of the circumstance, I found myself going back to the opening chapter as I pondered the new reality of these two friends. I think there might be some words for wisdom in here.
What does that mean? What is it? Why is it important?
My journey – and that of countless millions – has always been one that has had at its core a fundamental belief: that in this world of vast new and fast-changing complexity, we can never become complacent. We can never dare presume that the skills we have today will carry us forward into tomorrow. It would be folly to assume that our career at this very moment in time will be the same one that might let us earn our keep tomorrow. We would be fundamentally wrong if we were to believe that the life we are living today will look anything like the one we will encounter tomorrow.
With all that change underway, one thing is clear – to succeed in the future, we must continually reinvent our reality. Adapting new skills, developing new knowledge, pursuing new careers, aligning to new ideas.
We must, in a world of constant change, always be reinventing ourselves.
I have probably had five or six different careers in my lifetime. From a professional accountant focused on tax, audit and business advisory; to a tech and email consultant; a professional ‘competitive intelligence research professional’; to a best-selling author and noted Internet author in the 90s; to a ‘futurist, trends and innovation expert’ after the dot.com collapse.
Being able to reinvent myself and my career comes from a hard base of optimism about the future and my ability to do what is necessary to get there.
Indeed, I have come to work hard to remind myself each and every day that I need to keep my optimism intact. I need to nurture it, feed it, and carefully tend to it. My optimism is my oxygen, the fuel for my future, the pathway to my purpose. I have come to believe that when things are tough, worrying or challenging, my optimism can guide me through.
Urgency Is Often The Mother Of All Reinvention
Whether with Covid-19, the 2008 market collapse, or the 2001 dot.com collapse and 9/11, people have always found their lives and career paths altered by dramatic, unexpected circumstances. What happens in these situations is that people go through the stages of economic or career grief. It is like the bereavement process: they go through shock, denial, anger, ….etc. and eventually acceptance.
As for me, I have taught myself one core truth – the faster you get to acceptance, the quicker you can reinvent. It is a reality that has long driven my own ongoing reinvention.
That defines me, and that should define you.
I think people get stuck. Maybe by reading these stories you can become unstuck.
Reinvent. Through optimism.
You can learn more about the book here. Maybe buy a copy!
By the way, I’ve been busy exploring TikTok, and I must admit it has proven to provide me with some creative rocket fuel. I know I’m reaching out to a younger demographic with short attention spans.
I’m pleasantly surprised with the reaction so far. My sons are horrified.
Here are 3 of my recent ones! These are the copies that made their way onto YouTube.
I hope you find them fun!