Talking about the future

We talk about the future all the time.

“I will pick that up”

“I’m going to learn Spanish”

“I’ll set up that meeting with Sasha”

In my family we have made it a habit to NEVER EVER talk about the future without putting a time boundary on it.  The more specific the better.

It looks like:

“I will pick that up NEXT”

… or NOW or TODAY or NEXT WEEK or…

“I’m going to learn Spanish … BY THE END OF NEXT YEAR”


“I’ll set up that meeting with Sasha … BEFORE 5pm”

… or THIS WEEK or…

Why always do this?

Speaking about the future with no time boundary means,… nothing.

…except that it is not happening now.

If I say that I am moving to Germany, and that’s all I say, then if I haven’t moved to Germany ten years later, I can still keep repeating the statement and it remains true.

And meaningless.

This kind of speech dilutes our message.  It is noise.  Dilution and noise rob you of scarce time – talking about nothing when you could be sharing something meaningful.

So talking about the future without a time boundary is a negative statement.  It robs you of precious words, that took up precious time in your immeasurably valuable life.

Adding in a time-boundary transforms it into a positive statement.

If you say you are moving to Germany in a year, and the year passes, it’s true you have to face your failure to do the thing you said you would do.  But that is overwhelmingly offset to the positive by the automatic measure provided by noticing discrepancy between your intent and your action.

If you do not put a time-boundary on your statement, then you might never notice that you aren’t achieving your hopes and dreams.  If you do put a boundary on it, and you miss the mark, and your rituals include recording the bounded statement, and later reviewing it, you are provided with the measure, and have a much better chance of noticing, and improving!

This measure works even if the original intent has changed and the goal is no longer important.  For example, say that you notice that you don’t actually care about moving.  In that case you have an opportunity to get to know yourself better, and revisit you big goals; you can create new ones that better match who you have become.  Without this you might still have the fuzzy goal of moving, and it remains in your consciousness taking up the space of goals that would really matter to you.

We should require of ourselves the habit of always putting a boundary on statements invoking the future.

(edited to complete the thought about the “Germany” example)



Author: Cort Fritz

I make software, music, & amazing daughters.

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