How to Predict Your Future

August 8th, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

How many times have you seen a friend in a relationship that was going downhill, and you could just tell it was going to end badly, yet your friend was oblivious to it?

It’s hard to get past our own biases and see where our own path is likely to lead, but we can often seem to predict where other people’s paths are going.

A simple predictive exercise

Take a moment to think about someone you know fairly well but whose life you don’t have a major emotional investment in, perhaps a co-worker or business associate but not a relative or significant other. Given what you know about this person, where do you think s/he will be five years from now? What will be the status of this person’s career, relationships, health, spiritual beliefs, financial situation, etc? Which areas will improve? Which will decline? Which will remain relatively unchanged?

Don’t worry about being perfectly accurate. Just make your best guess. For now, let’s set aside the possibility of extraordinary events like death and dismemberment.

You don’t have to write them down, but get clear about what some of your predictions will be. Say them out loud or at least mentally verbalize them. Will this person gain weight, lose weight, or remain the same? Will his/her income go up or down? Will s/he have the same career? Will s/he begin, end, or maintain a relationship? Will you two still know each other?

Please take a minute or two to do this now before reading on….

Understanding your predictions

Now let’s set aside your actual predictions and instead focus on how you actually made these predictions. What factors did you consider?

Here are some you may have taken into consideration (either consciously or unconsciously):

Did you consider this person’s:

  • behavior patterns
  • habits
  • past/history
  • environment (home, work environment)
  • social relationships (family, co-workers, boyfriend/girlfriend, relationship prospects)
  • job/career
  • spiritual/religious beliefs
  • financial situation (income, cash, debt)
  • possessions
  • addictions
  • health/diet
  • physical attributes (appearance, weight, hygiene)
  • genetics
  • personality
  • character (honesty, self-discipline, courage)

My guess is that you considered at least some of the above, either consciously or unconsciously. You probably took a snapshot of where the person is today and where they’ve been in the past and projected it forward in time. It’s like a physics problem. You try to ascertain the object’s position, velocity, and acceleration, and this allows you to predict with some degree of accuracy where it will be at some future time.

Make a mental note of whichever criteria on the list above you considered in making your prediction. What else did you consider that isn’t on that list? You don’t have to write them down. Just mentally verbalize the criteria you feel you used in making your predictions.

It’s OK if you made your predictions based largely on instinct and intuition instead of trying to apply some rational criteria. I don’t expect you to have used a structured process here. If you relied mostly on your intuition to make your future predictions about your friend, take a guess at what criteria your intuition considered important. Again, don’t worry about being perfectly accurate. Just try to gain some clarity as to how you might have made your predictions, even if the actual process your mind used appears mysterious.

What’s missing?

Now let me ask you this… How strongly did you base your predictions on the person’s own consciousness? Did you even consider this factor at all? Did you consider the person’s free will? Did you consider this person’s ability to make decisions and thereby consciously create his/her own life? Did you consider this person’s goals, dreams, and plans for the future?

Did you see your friend largely as a product of their environment, genetics, current behavior patterns or as a product of their own conscious choice?

Now what would happen if someone you know read this blog entry and used your life as the target for their predictions? Would they make their predictions based on perceiving you as a conscious, highly aware human being? Or would they assume that your consciousness wouldn’t really have much say in where you are five years hence?

How accurately do you think your friend’s predictions about you would be? Can your future be predicted with reasonable accuracy without reference to your own consciousness?

How much say in the matter does your conscious mind actually have? Is your consciousness running the show or merely observing the show? To what degree are you consciously directing how your life unfolds?

Obviously there’s going to be some overlap between your conscious thoughts and your behavior and environment. But to the degree that incongruencies exist, which is the stronger presence in your life?

For example, if your habits and environment are such that you tend to be fairly messy and disorganized, but in your conscious mind you’ve made the decision to be a neat and well-organized person, which will be the winner five years from now? How would your friends place their wagers? Would they be right?

How conscious are you?

Predicting your own future

How would you predict your own future? Would you apply the same criteria you used for your friend? Would you base your decision mainly on environmental and behavioral factors or on the strength of your conscious mind? Would your decision be based mostly on your past and present or on your consciously chosen vision of your future?

Which criteria would be the most accurate? If a brilliant scientist were to attempt to predict your future as accurately as possible, what factors would s/he find significant, and what weight would be assigned to each factor?

What level of predictive significance would your consciously-chosen goals receive? 0%? 1%? 5%? 10%? 20%? 50%? 90%?

Do you even have a conscious vision of your future? What is it?

How strong is your consciousness?

How strong is your consciousness? Can it alter your behavior? Can it reshape your environment? Can it transform your relationships? How much authority does it wield over your life?

For those who assume the difficult challenge of living consciously, conscious choice is the most powerful predictive factor of all. It’s not going to be 100% — even the most conscious individuals don’t wield absolute control over their reality. But if you want to predict the future of a fully conscious being, you must learn what that person has decided to make of his/her life. Environment and current behavior patterns will still be pertinent factors, but they won’t be the most important.

Have you ever met someone like this… someone who was highly conscious? Have you ever seen someone 100 pounds overweight, but you could sense their conscious decision to lose weight and the indomitable strength of their willpower, and you knew with certainty that there was no way that person would still be overweight in five years?

Have you ever seen someone start their own business, and you just knew they’d succeed, even if they ran into major setbacks?

Can you usually tell when someone’s consciousness is strong enough to win out in the long run? Can you tell when someone has enough power to reach escape velocity? And can you also usually tell when someone isn’t going to make it?

Have you ever met a person who simply would not be denied, whose attitude was, “I will find a way or make one?” And you just knew they were going to reach their goals….

Such individuals are rare, aren’t they? Well below 1% of the people I’ve met. Highly conscious individuals almost glow with energy. You feel more conscious yourself just being in their presence.

What is your attitude towards greater consciousness?

How do you feel about people who seem to exert more conscious control over their lives than you?

Do you find such people threatening? Do you give them labels such as overachiever, genius, or gifted so as to distance them from yourself? Do these labels make you feel more comfortable about yourself by dismissing the possibility that you could very well reach or exceed their level of performance through your own conscious choice?

What’s stopping you from doing the same? Maybe you don’t have what it takes to perform at a certain level right now. But do you have what it takes to grow?

Resistance is futile

Becoming more conscious can be difficult, uncomfortable, frustrating, and downright painful. But the pain comes from our resistance to this process. When we cling to what we know after we’ve discovered it to be wrong, we refuse to accept our own greatest power… our ability to create our lives through conscious choice. We fear the very thing that makes us strongest.

Why do we do this?

I think we resist raising our awareness because it’s too painful to admit to ourselves that we’ve wasted our past. Whenever we embrace a higher level of consciousness, we often reinterpret our past in a negative light. All those years missing out on fulfilling relationships, all that money wasted on smoking, all that precious time lost. We look back and see that all our past decisions were completely and utterly wrong. Our entire lives up to this point have been one big mistake. We picked the wrong career, adopted the wrong habits, entered the wrong relationships, fell in with the wrong crowd. Years… perhaps decades… wasted.

We could simply forgive ourselves and realize that even in the past, we did the best we could. We simply weren’t as conscious back then as we are today. Perhaps the past wasn’t a waste if we learned something from it. But we usually don’t adopt this attitude right away.

What do we do instead? We defend our past. We throw good years after bad.

We rationalize our past decisions in new ways. But above all we won’t admit to being wrong. It’s too painful to admit the truth. We cannot say to the world, “The past X years of my marriage/career/family/life have all been a big mistake.”

What’s the effect of this? Instead of raising our consciousness, we lower it. We sacrifice our greatest powers in the vain attempt to maintain an illusion. We sink down to living like drones instead of conscious beings.

And so we die.

He’s dead, Jim.

We defend our past until death. And in so doing, the power of consciousness in our lives is lost. 80%… 50%… 15%… 2%… We reach the sad point of being able to predict our futures without even considering the role of consciousness.

How much longer will you defend your past?

Will you ever be able to forgive yourself for making the worst mistakes of your life? And then can you forgive yourself for living in denial for so long afterwards? And finally, can you forgive yourself the future pain that admitting that mistake may cause others?

Can you forgive yourself for being at a lower level of awareness than you’re capable of?

Can you forgive yourself for being human?

Can you say to the world, “Very sorry, dear fellow humans, but I appear to have made an error?” Can you ride out the boos and hisses that will follow your announcement?

Do you think the world will spin off its axis because you made a wrong turn? Do you think you hold the monopoly on poor judgement?

What have you sacrificed to maintain the illusion? Is the sacrifice worth it? Will you die making this sacrifice? What are you really defending?

It’s OK to be weak

Another block that keeps us rooted in low awareness is that even when we can summon the courage to admit the truth to ourselves, we may feel powerless to do anything about it. So we find it easier to deny the truth and cling to a feeling of partial strength instead of admitting all is lost.

In my own life, I’ve found the most useful solution to be this: Admit the truth anyway, and accept that it’s OK to be too weak to do anything about it. If I learn that a situation or a behavior is wrong for me, but feel powerless to change it, I’ve found that it’s better to admit the truth of the matter than to deny it, even if I don’t feel I can do anything about it — even when I cannot imagine a way out. I say to myself, “I know this is wrong, but right now, I’m too weak to change it.”

Make it OK to be wrong. This will keep your consciousness high. It’s OK to consciously witness yourself doing something you believe to be wrong or to endure a situation you know to be wrong for you. Be willing to sacrifice your feeling of security (and the conceit that you’re perfect), but be unwilling to sacrifice your consciousness. If what you see yourself doing is painful to you, then let it be painful, and stay aware of your situation and the pain it causes you. Don’t go dark to escape the pain.

By maintaining conscious awareness, even when it’s painful to do so, you build your greatest power. And this will eventually give you the strength you need. Say to yourself, “I may lack the strength to change right now, but I intend to become strong enough to make this change.”

I had to go through this process with public speaking. I was not born a natural communicator. As a young child I was shy and introverted. I dreaded any kind of public speaking, even with small groups. But when I began striving to live more consciously as an adult, I learned that if I wanted to embrace my chosen purpose as fully as possible, I was going to have to become a communicator. I knew that my path would eventually lead me to do lots of public speaking. I was going to have to share parts of myself in public that I didn’t even want to admit to myself, let alone people I don’t even know. I was going to have to solve a lot of very challenging problems for myself if I wanted to have any hope of helping other people solve them. And in pursuing this path, I was going to have to risk being wrong again and again, frequently breaking with my past and consciously pushing myself in new directions. But when I first considered this, it seemed like too much for me. Too little security. Too much fear and uncertainty. Too much criticism from others. So I simply said to myself, “I know this is what I must do, but at least for now, I lack the strength to do it. I can’t even see how this is going to be possible for me. However, I intend to become strong enough to handle it, whatever it takes.”

That’s how the power of consciousness works.

It overrides environment.
It overrules behavior.
It overthrows fear.

What if you don’t even have a clear goal? What if you don’t even know where to start?

Begin with the intention to become more conscious. Say to yourself, “As of this moment, I intend to become more conscious and aware.”

The best way to predict your future is to consciously create it.


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