Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Always In The Future

 And here it is, the beginning of the Christmas season.

To be honest, the entire year feels like it has been a huge blur.   Part of this, I suspect, is the very real fact that as a project manager, you spend all of your time in the future:  a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.  Even today, I was discussing something that is supposed to happen in the first quarter of 2023.  

If your eyes are always on the horizon, you will never see where you presently are.

I would say I am unusual in this, except that in point of fact this is where the world is looking as well.  Very seldom are they looking at the here and now.  They are always out looking into the future, how it can be made better, more accommodating.  That creates one or two problems of course, especially if by focusing only on the future you ignore the impacts this will have on the present.

The classic story of the business man who spent his whole life focused on his business and only then, at the end of all things (well, really at the almost end of all things; if it were the end of things there would be no realization at all) that all those years of pursuing tomorrow's benefit by selling today was not worth it, is held up as a paradigm of "why we should live in the now" - yet even those who promulgate it are looking towards the future (and often sequels to their tales:  "I Wasted My Life in Project Management Volume II:  Really Realizing I Failed").  The present is really the future that the 1950's projected: something out there that we think we can see, but never do.

This is not a hard and fast rule, of course.  To some extent we all have to plan for the future:  farmers have to think about what they will plant next year, and craftsmen what they will need to make things for next year.  And some extent longer term as well:  the soil must be maintained for the long haul, the wood and metal needed for crafts managed in a way that will allow others to do it.  There is some planning, some forethought, some long term views needed.  But not to the point of only seeing the future.

Living in the future is easy.  It only demands that you do things in the name of tomorrow.  Living in the present is very hard, as it means being 100% focused on the now, not the then.

9 comments:

  1. "We are living in the future
    I'll tell you how I know
    I read it in the paper
    Fifteen years ago
    We're all driving rocket ships
    And talking with our minds
    And wearing turquoise jewelry
    And standing in soup lines
    We are standing in soup lines"

    "Living In the Future" by the late John Prine

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    1. Oh, that is delightful and unknown to me until this point Ed. Thank you very much for sharing.

      And sadly, very true.

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  2. It gets easier with practice TB. Maybe too easy. Back in my other life I found it difficult too. For me, I felt guilty about taking time out to live in the moment… but when I was hard at it, doing my job and securing my future… I felt bad because I spent too much time at it and felt like I should stop to smell the flowers more often. It was a catch 22…😊

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    1. You describe it perfectly, Glen. And oddly enough, it seems like it is so much one or the other. I wonder if, in the modern work, a "work-life" balance is even possible?

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  3. I have discovered another truth this week, right here. Over on Eaton Rapids Joe, he has a Heuristic Monday post. Those have been enlightening to me. Yesterday, I realized that I prepare for lots of projects, but seldom get the projects started or finished (thank you ADHD). AND I'm not good at storing the parts for the eventual completion when I do get a round tuit. (another ADHD trait) Now this post sheds more light on my way of doing things. I am focused on the future, but I live quite literally in the now (thank you ADHD or better named Time Blindness). These puzzle pieces are so valuable to understanding my headspace and wiring issues. When the why is explained, the how seems to just show up. And this week has been a lot of whys answered. The Hows are on the Howrizon.

    Thanks ever so much for the additional illumination!! Your cogent thinking is helping me a lot. So, even if you feel like you wasted your life in project management, your experience is making a difference to me. TB, Life Coach. Yeah, that fits.

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    1. You are quite welcome STxAR, although I assure you most of this is quite accidental. If indeed it is of interest, then there truly is no wasted effort.

      (I just read the ERJ articles - Yes, that definitely fits into this.)

      Life Coach, huh. Well, I have been called worse...

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  4. The Kingdom of God is now. Planning ahead is prudent, but we should live in the present. (more easily said than done for some of us...)

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    1. All that you say is true Kelly, both the Kingdom of God in the now and the fact it is more difficult than we imagine.

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  5. Well I think you have an excellent routine, TB. The devil will always sit on your shoulder and ask you if any of it is worthwhile, and you don't have to justify yourself to him. Your free time is yours, and the only guy whose opinions matter is the bum in the mirror.

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