Envisioning the Future

When Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned a future America where the color of his skin didn't determine his rights as a citizen and as a human being, he couldn't see the path between that point in history and the election of a black president. But did that stop him?

When Mahatma Gandhi envisioned a future where India was free and independent, he couldn't see the path between that point in history and a free country with the largest democracy in the world. But did that stop him?

When Nelson Mandela envisioned a future South Africa with a multi-racial democracy, he couldn't see the path between the 27 years he spent in prison and the day he became elected president of that country. But did that stop him?

These stories can be found everywhere, across the entire planet. The three I just mentioned are probably familiar, but what about the billions of people who live every day in poverty and yet never stop envisioning a better standard of living?

What about the millions of single mothers who sacrifice every day while envisioning a better life for their children? Or the family who lost everything and chose to envision a future where they're still grateful to have each other?

What about the cancer survivor who envisioned life after certain death, and then survived?

Since the beginning of time, people have shaped the world around them not through doubting themselves but through believing in something so strongly that the universe had no choice but to listen.

Envisioning the future gives you an opportunity to see the possibility in the seemingly impossible. But if you don't take action -- if you don't risk making mistakes and overcoming your fear of failure -- that possibility remains inert. That future remains out of reach.

The worst thing you can do is give up. The worst thing you can do is throw away your power of choice and become a complacent, self-doubting cog in the machine of existence.

All it takes is one step. One step towards your vision. Start that project. Find others on a similar path with whom to collaborate. Look for the missing pieces between here and your envisioned future and then start building the road to get there. Every day. One step at a time.

There are no shortcuts. There are no free rides to the future. It's all in your hands. The future is yours.

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  1. Excellent post Raam! In the frenzy of modern life it is all to easy to let days slip into months and then years in a preoccupied haze. If we do not choose to consciously make a difference and thereby a different life we’ll look back on a decade or 6 or 7 of them and wonder what happened…where did our ideals go? Where did the impetus for change slink off to? Where did our hopes for a better envisioned future disappear to? We can’t afford for that to be our future. We’re determined to make a difference one person, one blog post, one leap of faith at a time. Thanks for bringing even more encouragement to the table for us and everyone who finds themselves here.

    • Thank you, Gena!

      I feel that envisioning the future is something we can all use, even for more than just big visions. Even envisioning our own success and change within our lives helps move us in that direction.

      I always think about how when I was getting in shape during my teens, I had no idea what I would physically look like after losing weight. I needed to envision that outcome, visualizing what I would look like and constantly readjusting my vision as I got closer to my goals.

      Creating a vision and using it as a dynamic blueprint for change is an extremely powerful tool! When it comes to the future of the planet and of humanity, I think our visions are a crucial piece if the puzzle.

      • Raam,
        I love that you started to envision what you would look like, that takes vision when we don’t have a point of reference it takes stamina in the imagination department; we keep dreaming, envisioning until we get there; similar to your reply to Steve; once you have the summit (a fit body, a life of travel, whatever) in your mind’s eye you can keep pursuing that goal and moving toward it while you stay engaged, enjoying the journey.

        • I think that’s where knowledge of our mortality comes into play. When we realize that we really don’t have eternity to figure out what we want to do with this life, we have no choice but to use our imagination to propel ourselves into the future, to reach for that which is just beyond what we perceive as reachable and achieve our greatest potential (whatever that may be for us). We need to take responsibility for doing something with this gift of life, something that extends beyond ourselves and leaves a mark on those who follow us (as you and Jeff are doing — thank you).

  2. “The worst thing you can do is throw away your power of choice and become a complacent, self-doubting cog..” True. I mean, what are we – – careening toward a black hole?

    You do well in pointing out that the future already exists.

    You pick it, see it, accept the challenges, and take the steps necessary to get there. This is the complete opposite of daydreaming.


    • Great point about this being the opposite of daydreaming, Torbjorn! The future is indeed already here and what we do now affects its direction. We can either daydream or we can do something. 🙂

  3. Thank you Raam for such inspirational words. One step at a time is the way to achieve what we hope to.

    We must start taking those steps otherwise the future we envision will remain only a dream.

    So what do I envision for my future ….

    • You’re welcome, David. One step at a time, in a direction of our choosing (as opposed to that of the status quo), will help move us along and prevent stagnation in our lives. 🙂

    • Nice comparison to meditation! In meditation, we need to focus and not allow our thoughts to distract us. If we’re not focused, we begin to drift and our energy is dissipated. The same way, if our energy has no vision, no matter how much energy we have we won’t be as effective as we could be.

  4. Raam,

    Envision is one of my favorite words. It was the name of my business when I was a freelance copywriter and consultant.

    I love the three examples you’ve given here because they illustrate the importance of faith and perseverance until the future we envision unfolds. At the same time, your examples of all us little people envision all over the globe is heart-warming and encouraging too.

    Here’s to the first step or the next step!

    • Thank you, Sandra! I always remind myself how everyone throughout history, no matter how much they’ve accomplished or how much they changed the world, they all had the same ability to imagine a better future. What they did differently was persevere. They didn’t quit. They didn’t give up.

      One step today. Then another one tomorrow. Then one more. We only have so much time left in this vehicle, so why not keep walking until we no longer can?

  5. great post! sometimes it hard to keep on keepin’ on when you get discouraged by defeat. but then you remember to learn from those downfalls and get back up again. sometimes you fall again and keep falling, but it’s those that keep getting back up that actually get somewhere. it’s nice to have these little reminders of why we do what we do 🙂

    • That’s one lesson I love to take from children: When they’re learning to walk, they don’t let falling down discourage them. They get up and try again. And when they fall, they get up and try again. Over and over, until they’ve learned how to walk. We need</em< to do the same thing!

      Thank you for the comment, Marianney! 🙂

  6. Great post Raam. I agree about envisioning where you want to get to – even though you might not know exactly how your’e going to get there – and that if you take the right steps (i.e. do what you can do) then the Universe will do the rest.

    I’ve heard it described like this. If you’re driving from, say, Houston to NYC – you know where you want to end up (NYC) but as you start driving (we’re at night now) all you can actually see in front of you is the few feet. in front of the car, lit up by the headlights – truth is that’s all you need to see to get there i.e. just take the next right action (however small) and eventually all those small actions will bring you to your goal.

    • Steve, I love hiking so I like to use a similar analogy: If you’re going to summit a mountain, you first need to look up and find the summit (or a find sign that points the way). Once you see the summit, you can stop looking at it, look down at the ground, and start walking, enjoying the journey and looking up towards the summit every now and then to readjust your course.

      If we just randomly walk through life, the chances of “accidentally” reaching the summit of a mountain are slim. Great things are achieved not by accident, but by the desire to reach a summit and deal with all the challenges involved with getting there. 🙂

  7. It is a short life…. Envisioning and believing can make it a sweet experience. We all desire to do something bigger than ourselves. It is part of our true nature.

    An uplifting piece!

    Be sure to check ouy Tom Shadyack’s new film. http://www.iamthedoc.com
    This is what the world has been waiting for!
    He directed many of Jim Carrey’s biggest hits.

    We are all connected!

  8. Raam I do like this article. It is very inspiring. I think more people need to be reminded of this otherwise the corporate masters will continue to do as they will.

    I’m ironically in the process of envisioning what I want to do in my life and some the things I want to be surrounded by. But I certainly don’t know where I’ll end up or how I can achieve even a little of my dream. So this post came at at good time.

    Also I love the mention of single mom. Since my late mother raise me and my younger brother by herself it is quite fitting. Now if I could find a way to get this wonderful idea of yours to many disabled children and adults and their families. It would be great to see what they can envision.

    Thanks Raam have a great day.

    • Thank you for sharing a bit of your story, Gary.

      I think more than anything, belief in our ability to shape the future will help us make big changes. If we doubt our strength and our ability to shape the future, then we’re very likely not going to do anything to step in that direction. When we believe in ourselves, we can start doing things that will move us towards our vision.

      That’s not to say that every vision will be reached by simply believing in it and walking towards it, but taking some form of action will certainly do more than doubting ourselves.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Bernie! I just started a collaborative project with some friends and it’s amazing how much collaboration amplifies not only the projects’ potential, but also the momentum pushing us all towards our shared vision.

  9. Great stuff, Raam. Love how you show that on a global or personal level, vision is key. The saying by Confucius would be applicable here – a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Why worry about the seemingly long road ahead of you? Think too much and nothing gets done. Just act!

    • I love that Confucius quote, Stella!

      No long journey will be reached in a single step (or two, or three…). At the same time, I think we need to remember that long journey’s always require reevaluating our trajectory. When we send a spacecraft to Mars, scientists have no idea exactly how to get there. They make course corrections throughout the entire journey, checking and rechecking their course until they arrive. If all they did was try to figure out exactly how to get there, nothing would get off the ground! 🙂

    • Thank you, Deb! Integrity is so important. If we’re dishonest with ourselves along the way, we will not only get off course but our actions will end up hurting ourselves and others along the way.

  10. Raam, great post. You listed examples of people who followed the advise of Gandhi(including Gandhi himself). “Be the change you want to see in the world. ” It’s simple but it says it all. Jesus(Yashua-His name in Hebrew) He was the change that He wanted to see in the world. There are many great examples in history of people who went outside of behavioral norms and showed what can be done with just a little bit of faith and determination. Thanks

    • Thank you, John! Faith and determination can do incredible things. We need to, as you mentioned, step outside behavioral norms and not be afraid to challenge the status quo and stand for what we believe in.

  11. As always, a delightful post Raam! Right now in Australia, there are many people who can’t see the path to rebuilding their homes after the devastating floods and fires, but it will happen!! There is something about the human spirit that defies us ever to think about giving up.
    I recall the devastating bushfires in Canberra a few years ago. So many people lost their homes and a significant pine forest was burnt to ashes. Lots of discussion followed about what to plant in its stead. This went on for some time. And in the middle of the discussion, the forest regenerated itself and stands triumphant today as a sign of courage and strength.
    And so it is with the human spirit. With encouragement and help from those who care, we can prove to be strong and resilient in the face of challenge.

    • What an amazing story with the forest regrowing while people were lost in discussion. I think that’s such an important lesson to learn from nature: Instead of complaining and worrying about what needs to be done, just do it. Instead of standing around and discussing the future, just write it and envision as we go, constantly reevaluating and adjusting course along the way. Mistakes are bound to be made, but I think the biggest mistake is trying to avoid making them.

      Thank you so much for the comment, Maria! 🙂

    • I second Raam’s assessment. The forest regenerating while the folks yapped away is really quite cool. Raam is probably right. We just need to learn how to just envision and go for it.

      I’ll be the first to admit that is not an easy thing for me to do. I have the awful problem of as my late mother always put it. “Gary you can’t see the trees for the forest.”

      So maybe those like me need people around us who can see the trees instead of the forest. Just a thought.

      Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story Maria.

  12. “The worst thing you can do is give up. The worst thing you can do is throw away your power of choice and become a complacent, self-doubting cog in the machine of existence.”

    Absolutely agree! I have self doubt ALL the time, but you have to keep going, keep riding, keep trusting that even though the vision can seem ridiculously big and impossible, that you’ll get there. Because it’s just plain old beautiful evolution, and we’re pretty invincible beings 🙂

    • Yes! Absolutely! What’s the point of living if we’re not pushing ourselves to new heights? What’s the point of evolving if we’re not dreaming big and reaching beyond the edge?

      What makes being human so awesome is that we are capable of anything, that we’re able to see something that seems impossible and yet still challenge reality to prove otherwise. 🙂


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