As every philosophy will tell you, we live in the present and every decision we make today affects everything that will happen to us for the rest of our lives (and even later, according to some philosophies). This makes decisions difficult, because we are simply surrounded by the present, with its pressures, people and events, sometimes to the point of drowning.
When my oldest nephew turned 18, everyone congratulated him on becoming an adult. When my turn came, this is what I said to him
The main difference between kids and adults is that kids live for today and adults know there is a future. Becoming an adult doesn’t happen when you turn 18. It happens when you decide to take responsibility for your own future
Let’s say you have a leak in your roof. At first, you see some signs of moisture in the ceiling after heavy rains and those signs disappear some time after the rain stops. If you do nothing, you can keep going like this for months, maybe even a couple of years.
Then, the moisture brings in termites or mold or just mixes in with the roof and ceiling material and you start getting the occasional drip. Sure, it is no fun, but a bucket under it can catch the water for a while, maybe until another rainy season blows over.
Eventually, it no longer helps to paint over the moisture spots in the summer and using rags and buckets to capture the water that trickles down from the roof, because the roof just caves in.
Of course, getting someone to seal your roof when you first noticed the moisture in the ceiling would have cost you money and required you to miss a few hours of work, but it would have stopped the problem then. When the dripping started, the job would have been bigger and most expensive, but it would certainly cost less and hurt less than having to repair and entire room or an entire section of your house. That really hurts.
Living in the present and making short-term decisions sometimes means trouble, because some situations keep getting worse and although you cannot avoid the cost, the effort or the pain, you can at least minimize them. In other situations, short-term pain creates opportunities for future success, comfort and happiness that would not be available by just chugging along and trying to have fun.
People who struggle financially often prefer to do things themselves. When they need to fix something or even to make something, like a wooden shelf cabinet, they spend their time doing it, often at the expense of family or vacation time and sometimes even at the expense of paid work.
This is not because successful people have more money. It is because they value their time more than they value their money. If you believe that an hour of your time is worth $20 and you need to spend 2 hours making a $60 cabinet, you are $20 ahead in your mind. But if you believe your time is worth $100 an hour, buying a $150 cabinet and saving 2 hours is a better deal for you.
People who go into business often do not have enough money to keep their new business going until it breaks even. However, business planning is all about numbers, so they draw up a plan, project their costs and sales revenues into the future and then approach a bank and ask for a loan, because they can show (on paper) that the return will be higher than the interest and that taking the loan will allow them to succeed.
Business people make this kind of decisions almost every day, again by using their numbers. Say they need a big job done and they lack the manpower. They can turn it down, hire and train more people or outsource. So they draw up a plan, project their costs and sales revenue from the job into the future and then they can show (on paper) that the return will be higher than the outsourcing costs, so they engage some contractors for the job.
You can see examples of this every day. Recruitment firms now handle most of the job applications, accounting firms handle most of the taxes for companies, payroll processors handle most of the salaries, overseas sweatshops make most of the clothes, shoes and software and who picks up when you ring customer service? The figures make a powerful case for choosing to outsource, so companies do it.
Unfortunately, personal life is not as clear cut. It is not so easy to put a price on making it in time for your child’s concert or being there when your baby says his or her first word. If you cuddle in bed for another 10 minutes, how will this affect your bottom line? Hard to tell.
Your personal future is tricky to imagine. So many things can change. If anyone asked you to imagine your life today 10 years ago, would you have imagined it closely enough? I know I would not have. So when we make personal decisions, like choosing a place to live, our furniture, our children’s school, our friends and many other things, we cannot rely on numbers and projections.
So what can we rely on?
Yes, self-confidence. Because no matter what the future holds, being confident will help you do better in it. Confident people get better jobs, find better partners, close better deals, earn better incomes and raise more confident kids who then get better jobs, find better partners, close better deals and earn better incomes.
The only tough decision you still face, then, is how to become more confident. Should you borrow books from the library and spend a lot of time reading them? Should you buy books, audio recordings or even video programs and learn from them? Or maybe you should find a professional life coach who will probably charge you a bit of money, but will help you with the things YOU need to boost YOUR confidence?
If you borrow some books from the library (or read professional development articles online), you pay nothing and all you do is spend your time. Reading is great for getting general guidance and you may find golden nuggets in them that will help you change your life. Or you may not, because for some people, it can be difficult to translate the learning into practice.
Audio and video program (and public seminars) cost more than books. But they provide a richer experience and deliver their messages in a shorter amount of time. The growth you get from them is faster and perhaps deeper. You finish going through them with a feeling of elation, determined to change your life and be a new you. Most people still remember some of the things they wanted to do a few days later, but doing them suddenly seems more difficult in the face of reality.
But what if you committed yourself to truly “nailing it”? What if you decided that no matter the cost, you wanted to ensure you future was bright and happy, and no matter how much time and effort that would take in the present, it was worth spending them.
Working with a life coach is based on just this level of conviction and commitment. When you are the “engine”, life coaching can guide you towards deeper understanding of yourself and your world and help you reinvent yourself with power and confidence. Each time you meet, you learn something new. Each time you meet, you also learn from your experience since the previous meeting and gradually make your new skills part of your new life, so they never fade.
The Greek mythology tells the story of Sisyphus, who was doomed to roll a giant boulder up a hill and lose his strength near the top, which cause the boulder to roll back down the hill again. Modern life can sometimes feel like that.
But by giving it all we have, no matter the pain and effort, and making it to the top of the hill, our life’s boulder will start rolling forward and we will become unstoppable. So we need to muster just enough confidence to take what resources we have, borrow a bit from tomorrow, and make a change that will last.