Do you remember when you were young and faced with having to write a paper for a class in school? Perhaps it was a long time ago, or maybe it was only a few weeks ago. If you are like most folks, you stared at the paper (or the computer monitor) for a long time, willing your mind to either come up with a subject, or at least organize the thoughts banging around in your mind.
Professional authors call this “writer’s block” – a catchy name for what cognitive scientists more commonly refer to as procrastination because writing something has become a “have to.” Any excuse in the book (pardon the pun) will suffice, when it comes to explaining writer’s block.
However, another plausible explanation may be that the ultimate goal isn’t clearly defined. It’s difficult to organize thoughts around something that doesn’t exist yet. You may be feeling a bit like this when it comes to defining your future. Let’s face it, the last year and a half have upended “normal” for most of us, wiping away what we expected the future – at least the near future – to look like.
There is a solution, one which you may begin today. Grab a blank sheet of paper and a pencil or pen (or a blank screen and your keyboard). Write or type the following questions:
• What do I want for the next week? What does it look like? How will I get there?
• What do I want for the next year? Where will that take me? How will that make me feel?
• What do I want in the next five years? Ten years?
Now, take time to answer the questions, based on what you want and how you feel today. Yes, you may change your mind in the next weeks, months or years – that’s OK and to be expected. You will be growing, and your needs will change because of the opportunities presented to you. But for right now, you need to break through your “future block” and create something solid to aim for.
Taking the time to put structure to that amorphous blob, and create something tangible will reduce your stress and anxiety levels, when it comes to figuring out the future. And while you are at it, give yourself permission to dream a bit. After all, a dream is just a goal that hasn’t been achieved – yet.