Here’s Where You’ll Be In Five Years
When lockdown first started I realised that the habits I slipped into during the first few days would be the ones that endured. The routine behaviours we create today are the best indicators of the future.
The question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” might be asked in a job interview and receive a variety of answers based on varying degrees of truth. The reality is that it’s obvious where you’ll be. Humans are largely consistent, and the same inputs yield the same outputs.
Write a list of those things you have now that your former self could only have dreamed of. Each of these is a result of making incremental gains that compound, but you only realise how far you’ve come when looking back.
You can look in the mirror or take a bleep test to see the effect the last five years had on your health. You can look at your bank account to see the effect the last five years had on your financial position. Your recent calls list reflects the friendships you’ve cultivated, and your natural disposition reflects your self-awareness and self-improvement. Bluntness aside, it’s an accurate method.
In Atomic Habits, by James Clear, he explains how positive habits can be created and bad ones broken. Clear makes the case for why habits (and habit systems) are more effective than goals, explaining that “people don’t rise to the heights of their goals, they sink to the levels of their systems.”
After reading the book, I created myself a 30-day challenge. On a piece of paper divided into 30 days, I wrote 10 things I wanted to do every day, to tick when complete. Included on the list are reading, writing, doing a Daily Calm and speaking to someone who inspires me. At first, they were all left until the end of the day but now, 14 days in, they’re firmly embedded as priorities and habits.
Project forward five years and imagine the person you want to be, then question whether or not your current habits are likely to take you there. There is rarely a sudden change or golden bullet that will dramatically change your fate.
What are the systems that you default to? The habits you fall back on in the absence of discipline. When you don’t feel like doing anything. When you’re not in the mood. Those are the ones that define where you are and where you’re going. As Jim Rohn said, “Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.”
Changing those default systems is the way to change any trajectory. Also in Atomic Habits, Clear lists the four laws for creating and sticking to good habits: make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy and make it satisfying. I’m far more likely to journal each morning if I leave my journal on top of my laptop before I go to bed. I’m far more likely to choose fruit over chocolate if it’s the only thing in the cupboard.
Dilbert creator Scott Adams downplays goals in favour of systems in his book, comparing the goal of “be a writer” to the habit of writing an article every day. The first is a shallow phrase, easy for anyone to say and not act upon, but the second is a system of regular practice that can lead to improvement, mastery and opportunity.
In five years’ time you will be where you are now plus the compounded effects of your daily habits. Positive habits that compound: checking for mistakes before clicking send, exceeding expectations, going the extra mile, doing someone a favour, showing kindness, learning, reading, writing, meditating, giving a compliment or making a new connection.
Habits that compound to leave you in a worse place in five years: saying “that’ll do,” putting someone down, overreacting, dishonesty, skipping a workout, cutting corners, procrastinating, watching reality TV.
A Charlie Tremendous Jones quote states, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Where you or I will be in five years is based on our daily habits, lockdown or no lockdown.
This article was written by Jodie Cook, an entrepreneur and author from Birmingham, UK. Cook featured in Forbes’ Europe’s 30 Under 30 list of social entrepreneurs in 2017. She is an international powerlifter for Great Britain.
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