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Looking into the Future
by Ayodeji Jeremiah
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Introduction: We have had what was known as the Stone Age; we have had the agrarian age; we have had the industrial age; we have had the I.T. age and presently we are moving into what is being called the age of wisdom; the knowledge age. Knowledge is potential power but it has to be released and used. It is knowledge that is released and used that is power. The future will be controlled by those with knowledge power. Knowledge is gained by learning. There are different forms of learning: academic, apprenticeship, mentoring. You have to dedicate yourself to lifelong learning to take advantage of what the future holds. The mind is like a muscle. Just as you have to strain your physical muscles to build them, you have to work your mental muscles to build your mind as well. The more you learn, the more you can learn; just the same way you play a sport, the more you play that sport, the better you get at it. Continuous learning is the key to the 21st century. There are three keys to lifelong learning; books, audio tapes, seminars and courses. Donít let your learning however lead just to knowledge. Let your learning lead to action. Put what you learn into practise. For knowledge to become wisdom, it has to pass through a process known as understanding. Understanding comes through practice. Looking into the future principally entails thinking about the future. You have to think it, see it, feel it, believe it and then build it. This requires you to follow certain principles and have certain characteristics as follows:

The 7 Principles of Future Oriented People:
1. Purpose: Nothing can take the place of knowing your purpose. The evidence is overwhelming that you cannot begin to achieve your best unless you set some aim in life. If you donít try actively to discover your purpose, you are likely to spend your life doing the wrong things. God created every person for a purpose. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life. Everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfilment. Everyoneís task is unique. It is our responsibility and our greatest joy to identify that task. Psychologists tell us that without a strong controlling purpose, the personality of the individual disintegrates due to inner clashes. God has placed in every human being a unique vision and call that is designed to give purpose and meaning to life. No other person can give you your vision. It is God given. Every human being was created to accomplish something that no one else can accomplish. Every person was created to be known for something special. Life and the universe as a whole have their own unique and distinct purposes. You need to identify and sail toward your destination. The problem for a lot of people is that they are unable to identify their destinations. To discover your destination means you need to discover your dream. A person who has a dream knows what he is willing to give up in order to go up.
Here are some questions to help you identify your purpose:
I. Why do I exist? Why was I created? No one else in the world has exactly the same gifts, talents, background as you. That is why it will be a serious mistake to try and be someone else. What are your greatest talents? What do others who have nothing to gain say that I am good at?
II. For what am I searching? All of us have a strong desire buried in our hearts, something that sets our souls on fire, something that speaks to our deepest thoughts and feelings. What is my greatest passion? What is that thing that I love doing the most that I would gladly do it for free? What is so important to me that I would be willing to die for it?
III. Do I believe in my potential? If you donít believe that you have potential then you will never try to reach it. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
IV. In terms of your life, if you could go anywhere, become anything, where would you like to go, what will you like to do, what will you like to become?

2. Potential: Your potential is determined by the assignment that God has given you to do. Whatever you were born to do, you are equipped to do. Potential is hidden capacity, untapped power, unreleased energy. Potential is all you could be but have not yet become. God will never call you to do something that He has not already given you the ability to do or that He wonít give you the ability to do when the time comes. That is why you need to discover your dream in order to discover your ability (your potential) to fulfil it. Your present job may contain hidden potential for your true lifeís work. Your potential is manifested when you say yes to your dream and obey God. Our potential is Godís gift to us. People unwilling to grow will never reach their potential. People who reach their potential think in terms of improvement.
Steps to help you grow towards your potential:
I. Concentrate on one main goal. Reaching your potential requires focus. One you decide where to focus your attention, you must decide what you are willing to give up in order to do it.
II. Concentrate on continual improvement. Each day decide to be a little better that you were yesterday. What you get as you get better is not really as important as what you become. Identify the top areas that you want to develop. These areas of development should be in line with your dreams and goals.
III. Forget past failures. Donít let past mistakes and difficulties prevent you from reaching your potential.
IV. Find a way to apply what you learn. Donít let your learning lead to knowledge. Let your learning lead to action. Your life must begin to change as a result of what you are learning. As soon as you learn something, ask yourself these questions: Where can I use it? When can I use it? Who else needs to know it?
V. Find a mentor and find someone to mentor.

3. Planning: The most frustrated person in the world is the person who has a dream but does not know how to make it come to pass. There is no future without planning. While God gives the vision, we make the plans. Our plans are prayer material. God will direct your steps once you make a plan to move toward what you desire. God gave us an imagination to enable us in our planning. Ideas when cultivated become imagination. Imagination when developed becomes a plan. A plan when followed becomes reality. Dreams donít just happen. We have to plan towards our dreams. When you lack a plan, you miss opportunities. If you aim at nothing, you will hit at nothing. If you donít have a plan for your life, you will have nothing to refer to ensure that you are on track. Start thinking about where you want to be in one, five, ten, twenty years from now and starting putting down ideas about how you will get there. Identify your resources and start with whatever you have. Your dream determines your goals. Your goals (plans) map out your actions. Your actions create results. The results bring you success. There are four kinds of people when it comes to the planning process of life: (i) Those who donít make any plans at all and tell you it is not their fault they are not getting anywhere in life. They are busy focusing their time and energy on things outside their control. They blame others for their lack of progress and are more concerned with finding excuses rather than taking advantage of opportunities. (ii) There are those who like the status quo (the present) and are not willing to make any plans to change that status quo. They are not bothered about the past or the future and are focused only on the present. They hate change and avoid change at all costs. (iii) There are those who love planning and love to plan but never do anything about heir plans. They never turn their plans into action.
Steps to help you in your planning:
I. Give some thought to where you are now and how far you are from your dream. What are the greatest assets you have? What are the things that stand between you and your dreams? What are those things that you can control?
II. What will it cost you to get to where you are going? In terms of money, time, relationships, present job, comforts/luxuries
III. What are the goals that you will need to accomplish to fulfil your dream? What are your personal spiritual, health, relationship, academic, financial and investment goals?

4. Passion: How badly do you want to achieve your vision? Are you hungry for your vision? Passion is stamina that says I am going to go after this, no matter what happens. You must put your whole heart into your vision. The majority of people in the earth really have no passion for life because there is no vision for their lives. The saddest tragedy of life is a heart that has not caught fire. You are passionate if you stay steady under pressure. Passion helps you overcome resistance. Passion means that what you believe is bigger than what you see. If you can stop what you are doing and still be happy then you are not passionate about it. If you can be discouraged then you donít have passion. Passion means you are willing to pay the price. Passion keeps you focused. 85% of your success is determined by your attitude and your personality. Having passion for what you are doing helps you develop a positive attitude. People who are cheerful and optimistic are always more liked and respected than those who are complaining and critical. Passion helps you perform well even under pressure and stress. Passion enables you to look for the good in every situation. Decide today that you are going to be a completely positive and constructive person. One kind of person who always fails in life is the unexcited individual. Passionate people are those who have discovered something more important than life itself. One of the ways to develop passion is to do what you love to do. Find out what you really enjoy doing, what you have a natural talent for and then throw your whole heart into doing that particular work very well. Find an area that completely fascinates you, that holds your attention that is a natural expression of your special talents and abilities. When you are doing what you love to do, you will have a continuous flow of excitement, energy and ideas to do what you do even better. If you won a million dollars today, would you continue to do what you are currently doing? The answer to this question would enable you to know whether you have passion for what you are doing.

5. People: When you begin to act on your vision, it will stir up both those who want to help you and those who want to hinder you. We need other people if we are going to be successful in life. Your progress is largely determined by how much people like you and want to help you. One of the determinants of your success is how well you get along with others and how well you perform as part of a team. Your level of success will be determined by the number of people you know and who know you and like you. The more that people like you and respect you, the more doors they will open for you and the more obstacles they will remove from your path. At every turning point in your life, someone is standing there to either help you or hinder you. Treat other people the way you would like them to treat you. Practice being courteous, kind and considerate especially with those on the lower rung of the ladder from you. Be friendly, helpful and cheerful. Express gratitude to people on every occasion. Look for ways to put something into a relationship before you think about getting something out. Make a habit of building and maintaining high quality relationships. Virtually all of your problems in life will come as a result of your entering into the wrong relationships and virtually all of your great successes in life will be accompanied by great relationships with good people who help you and whom you help in return. You can tell a lot about which direction your life is heading by looking at the people with whom you have chosen to spend your time and share your ideas. Their values and priorities affect the way you think and act. You become like those with whom you spend time. Choose friends who are going in the same direction as you. People have the potential to create your environment. Your environment then determines your mind set and your mind set determines your future. Show me your friends and I will show you your future. When you are going through a difficult situation, you donít want someone who is still at the bottom. You want someone who can help you out. Get to know people whom you want to emulate.
How to develop strong relationships:
I. Express appreciation for others. This requires understanding the personality of others.
II. Spend time with others

6. Persistence: Persistence is the desire to withstand every opposition. The two greatest obstacles you will face on the road to your success and fulfilling your dream are fear and failure. Everyone has fears. Fear causes procrastination. Fear can be a hindrance to success. Fear prevents us from engaging in any activity and we never find out if that fear was justifiable. Fear breeds inaction. Inaction leads to lack of experience. Lack of experience leads to ignorance. Ignorance breeds fear. Fear robs us of our potential. Face and acknowledge your fears and move forward. Always resolve in advance that you will never give up no matter what happens. Program your mind in advance for any setbacks and disappointments you are going to face. The courage to persist in the face of adversity and disappointment is the one quality more than anything else that will guarantee your success. Your persistence is a true measure of your belief in yourself and your ability to succeed. You cannot control the problems that you will face in life but you can control how you respond to setbacks. Every time you respond in a positive and constructive manner, you become stronger and better and more capable of dealing with the next problem or crisis. Become the kind of person who never quits no matter the difficulty. No matter the obstacle that may be in your path, find a way to go over it, under it, around it or through it. There is no resistance if you are not moving. People who are not doing anything or going anywhere have nothing to worry about. If you donít want problems, just donít do anything important in life. Opposition often proves you are doing something significant with your life. Let every opposition strengthen you rather than stop you. Persistent people never take no for an answer. Persistence means that you insist on having what you are going after. Persistence means that you stand up against resistance until you wear it down. Persistence means that you make people who are against you so tired of fighting that they either become your friends or leave you alone. Persistence means that you stop only after you have finished.

7. Prayer: Stay connected to the source of vision. You can undermine your vision through negative thoughts and words. Prayer helps you speak positive words that express what you see in your vision. Sometimes in the pursuit of your future, you will grow spiritually and emotionally weary, that is the time to go back to God in prayer. Allow God to refresh and rebuild you. Allow God to strengthen you. Prayer encourages us to get back in the fight. Exercise the spiritual dimension of your life through prayer, scripture study, meditation and fasting.

Characteristics of Future Oriented People:
ē They are principled, have integrity & dignity
ē They solicit opinion & share information
ē They build relationships & establish trust
ē They have considerable knowledge skills & expertise
ē They are optimistic, enthusiastic & self motivated
ē They communicate clearly & sensitively
ē They are not easily offended & have a sense of humour
ē They work hard & are professional in their conduct
ē They set goals

Conclusion: The very best way to predict the future is to create it. This means whatever you envision for your future, begin to work towards it. Make a mental blueprint of what you want and then build it. The most successful people in the world are those who have a Ďlong time perspective.í They think out into the Future. They make their everyday decisions based on their Future horizon. Visualise, idealise and imagine your Future. Develop the skills, habits, character, strengths, attitudes needed for that Future. Identify and bridge the gaps that exist between where you are now and that Future you will like to be. Look around you at what you are doing today. Compare your current situation, your current level of knowledge and skills, with what you would ideally like to be doing sometime in the future. Whatever changes you would have to make to create your perfect future, begin making those changes today. Today is one day less into your future. Your future is not about tomorrow, it starts today.

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