Give Up On Long-Term Dreams, and Thrive
I heard this three months ago from a 17 year old school boy diagnosed with a terrible cancer. It has nagged at me. It’s so fricking powerful. For me, anyway. For you?
My then 45 year old mate Tony said this to the lads one night over a beer. “Oh- I’ll worry about that when I’m really old…like when I’m 55.” He’s a hugely smart man, Tony. But for once I was able to say to him: “Tony- let me tell you something I know that you don’t. When you’re 52, as I am today, 55 does not seem old.”
I just turned 55. It feels older than I thought! But I am thrilled about it. Because I have the answer to looking to the future with abundant optimism, hope and enthusiasm. It was given to me by a desperately ill 17 year old boy. Here it is:
Be micro-ambitious. Focus all your energies on short-term goals.
“Forget about long term dreams,” said Jake Bailey, the 17 year old school captain of Christchurch Boys’ High School during his valedictory speech, a week after being diagnosed with a deadly and seriously advanced cancer.
Don’t get too far ahead of ourselves, encourages Jake. Be micro-ambitious. “Let’s be passionately dedicated to the pursuit of short-term goals. Work with passion and pride on what is in front of us, today.”
Sobering advice. Not all will agree with it. I do. I love it. And have used it this way.
Sure- I have my long-term plans and the strategies to get there…. 5 years away, 10 years away. I write them down. Put them in a folder. And file them away, noting in my diary to review and refresh them in a year’s time.
Then I put all my focus on this one year ahead.
What do I want to achieve in all aspects of my life? What am I aiming at? What are the milestones? What are the events I want to see unfold? What am I looking forward to? What’s my ‘reward’?
My micro-ambition for this year concludes with a ‘vision’ for the December/January school holidays….11 months away. That’s my ‘reward.’ And there’s a diary note on my birthday- just before Christmas- to double check my list: to see how I went with my micro goals.
That’s as far ahead as I am looking.
Long-term plan and strategy in place and written down. Very occasional moments of daydreaming about what could be in some distance, opaque future. And then clarity around the next 12 months. Short-term micro-goals that I am throwing myself at with passion and pride. “Don’t get too far ahead of ourselves.” Want to join me?
Bizarre coincidence and brilliant news. I was online today searching for the Jake details and quotes. The top story under his name …published 19 hours ago and three months after Jake’s speech: he is in remission! His future lies ahead of him. He achieved micro-ambitions… and is now setting some more. Good for you, Jake. A very warm hug from someone you touched across the ditch.