Monday, May 12, 2014

Eliminating 'Forever' Thinking

I'm going to work here forever.
We're going to be married forever.
This will be my career forever.
I am going to live in this house forever.
We will be friends forever.

We've all said it, at some time, about some-one, about some-thing and... at that moment... we likely believed it or wished it to be true.  It seems relatively innocent and simple, but there is an inherent danger in attaching absolute terms like Forever and Always and Never to our actions.  Forever is an absolute, defining a very specific time frame.  It does not leave room for variations or alternatives.
Definition of Forever:  For all future time; for always; continually
When we mentally commit to something 'Forever', it means that there are other things you will never be, do or have as a result. This may or may not necessarily be a bad thing, but few of us consciously used the 'Forever' term with a clear picture of what choices we were agreeing to NOT make in the future.

Forever, by its very definition, is a restrictive and limiting term, creating a rigid belief and expectation of and for your life.

  • If you believe that you will work at a your current job/organization - Forever - then you will fail to explore other options and may limit your opportunities and growth.  You may remain with an employer and in a role that no longer serves you. 
  • If you believe that you will be friends with someone - Forever - then you may continue to allow a toxic person to remain in your life, long after you should have moved on.
  • If you believe that you will live in your current house - Forever - then you will likely miss out on job and life opportunities that may have taken you elsewhere, failed to have downsized when the market (and your income) indicated you should, may have missed out on a house that would have suited you and your lifestyle better, or even considered alternatives to owning a house.
Forever is a lock with no key.

Instead, consider replacing the word Forever with one of the following...
  • as long as it works
  • as long as it serves me
  • as long as it makes sense
  • as long as I choose
Each of these phrases is liberating.  They are For Now thinking instead of Forever thinking.  There is no longer a lock that you cannot escape from.  You are in relationships and jobs that you choose to be in.  You are living in a way that continues to serve you, not based on a decision that you made decades ago that you mistakenly determined would be... 'Forever'.  
  • You aren't happy in your current career?  Change it!  You needn't be locked into a career path for life, based solely on a decision you made when you were in high school.  Choose today what will make you happy and do what you need to make it happen.
  • You have relationships that exhaust and drain you?  People in your life that continue to undermine your confidence and belief in yourself, that are constantly sticking pins in your Joy balloons?  Ditch 'em.  If they take away far more than they add then they have long outgrown any positive purpose they had served in your life.
This doesn't mean that all of our Forever decisions need to be changed; there are many we likely want to keep.  However, keep them because you continue to choose them, not because you feel locked into them. Life is constantly changing and we need to be capable of changing along with it.  Eliminating the hidden barriers to change, that absolute words like Forever, Always and Never create, allows us greater flexibility and adaptability, enjoying greater levels of success and happiness...  For Now.

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