One factor that makes a big difference in how much control you have over your life is your time horizon. In the span of a day or a week, you have a fair amount of control over your life, but it’s certainly not 100%. In any given week, just about anything can happen, and your plans can be thrown completely off by factors outside your control. Even over the course of a year, your goals can be totally sidetracked. You can be hit with an unexpected health problem or suffer a major financial setback. I’ve certainly had at least one year where everything seemed to go askew and where getting back on track took months.
But in the long run, when you hit time horizons of 5, 10, or 20 years, your degree of control is closer to 100%. The short-term randomness tends to cancel out.
If you want to start a new business this week, your ability to accomplish that goal may not be anywhere near 100%. But if you want to start a new business within the next 5 years, no matter what your starting condition, you’re virtually 100% capable of making it happen if you choose to do so. There are very few setbacks that will nuke your ability to get moving in the direction of your goals for more than a year.
People often overestimate what they can reasonably achieve in a year. But they vastly underestimate what they can achieve in 5 years. In a five-year period you can go from sitting in the stands as a spectator to becoming an Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon. Bill Toomey did it.
Think about what you can achieve between now and 2010 if you commit to it. You can lose any amount of weight and develop any kind of physique you want. You can start your own business and make it profitable. You can meet the mate of your dreams and start a family. You can relocate to anywhere in the world. You can learn to speak a new language fluently. You can write a book. You can become skilled at any musical instrument. You can learn to act or dance or speak or write.
If you’ve been complaining about not being able to get started on one of your major goals for a week or a month, you may be doing so for good reason. Perhaps you are indeed experiencing setbacks that have prevented you from getting started. But if you’ve been making excuses for more than a year, the responsibility for the delay is almost certainly yours alone.
You have an enormous degree of control and power when you think with a time horizon of 5 years. Don’t let that potential go to waste. Set a course now and get moving.
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