Recently the date was the infamous 21 October 2015 – the date in the future in Back to the Future II.
So I, like hundreds of other families, sat down to watch the movie with my kids.
It was pretty poignant, given that my eldest daughter is now very close the age I was when I watched the orignal movie.
I had sat in my chair at the age of 13 imagining what the world would be like 30 years from now.
Probably I would be a russian ballerina or a famous classical guitarist and I loved the idea of hoverboards and just imagine being able to talk to someone and actually SEE them at the same time!!
What was amazing to see though was all the things the makers of movie imagined would happen in the ‘future’ – and how wrong we see many of those predictions were.
And yet, as human beings (and especially as entrepreneurs) we continually create predictions of the future and then live as those are true facts about what is actually going to occur.
And not only do we create the ideas inside our heads, we also imagine we can create the steps and action plans to get from here to there.
But in the same way the makers of Back to the Future made up the world 30 years from now and got it pretty much completely wrong – so do we!
I for one, think about the three years in the future, about five years from now at which my kids school fees peak to a horrendous level.
And then I spend time today trying to work out what that’s going to feel like, how I would feel if I couldn’t pay them, what would happen to them as a result – and then try to work out what to do today to make sure that scenario I’ve imagined in five years time is taken care of.
I then I think I know ‘how to make it happen’ – obviously I just need to grow this coaching program, enroll x number of people in y offer and charge them z amount. And then next year I’ll do Plan A and the year after Plan B and it will all work out fine!
The truth is I have no idea. Anything could happen between now and then.
We may emigrate on a whim (we’ve done it before – twice!), I may get sick, hoverboards may become a major part of my life, my kids might start taking drugs and drop out of school altogether – we just do not know.
And every one little deviation in my ‘plan’ has a thousand ramifications that are simply impossible to predict from where I’m sitting right now.
If you watched the movie yesterday, you’ll remember the point at which Doc and Marty go back to the present to realise an alternate 1985 has now been created because of the things they did in the future, which meant that Biff could go back to the past and alter it.
It’s confusing, bear with me!
In the present (1985) they want to go back to the future (2015) so they can change what happened so that Biff can’t go back to the past (1955) and do what he did that altered the present (1985).
But they can’t because from where they are in alternate 1985, the future is different that it would have been if they were in normal 1985.
Future events have irrevocably changed because of one single event.
We can only ever (and not always) see the next step.
Anything else we’re dreaming up and trying to live into is just that – something we make up and then treat it as if it’s real.
That’s what humans do, especially when they have no idea where their experience is coming from (and quite a lot of the time when they do).
For me, this all means that I can pay less attention to those solid-looking futures, and trying to come up with plans to negotiate them successfully.
Instead I can just look to the next step.
Success doesn’t come from rigourous planning and execution – instead it is far more random than that.
Plan away all you like if it looks like a good idea, but I’m starting to see that those plans and dreams are just a way to bring the very next step into the light – then I can just ditch all the plans and goals because their job is done.
Again – there’s a lot less to do than I thought.