eric-juhlin-future-picture

Creating a Future Picture to Best Reach Your Goals


Updated By Eric Juhlin on August 31, 2020

Q: How Can I Best Reach My Goals?

A: Create a Future Picture!

A common question that we, as well as organizations, repeatedly ask is: “How Can I Reach My Goals?” 

As humans, we all have an innate desire to grow, develop, progress, and move forward in life. But while most people can easily dream about where they would “like to be” or identify what they would like to improve in their life, they often lack a structured process or strategy for turning their dreams into reality. In my experience, every person or organization has a desire to grow and develop, but we often lack a strategic process to actually “get there.”

At the Center for Excellence in Higher Education and Independence University, we’ve been able to grow, develop, change, and achieve strategic objectives by utilizing a planning and execution tool created by John A. Warden III called the Prometheus Process. Although the Prometheus Process was designed as a strategic planning tool for businesses and organizations, its core concepts can be easily adapted for individuals to help them identify and achieve their personal goals—what the Prometheus Process refers to as a Future Picture.

My goal—or future picture—for this blog is to introduce you to a highly effective process that could help you be more successful at achieving your goals and dreams.

While most of this information comes from my understanding and experience with John Warden’s Prometheus Process, I’ve also drawn upon concepts found in Thought Patterns for a Successful Career, written by Lou Tice and Joe Pace of the Pacific Institute. Since I cannot cover all the concepts in this brief blog, I strongly encourage you to read the books mentioned above should you have further interest.

Why This Works—The Fundamental Concept

I believe the Prometheus Process works because it leverages a fundamental, unavoidable, and core behavioral trait of human beings. In short, we humans move toward and become that which we think about. Our conscious and subconscious minds are structured in such a way that our brains constantly filter, screen, and perceive information based upon whatever thoughts dominate our thinking.

For example, let’s say you want to buy a Toyota Tacoma truck. Prior to making this decision, you most likely didn’t notice an abundance of Toyota Tacoma trucks on the road. However, after the “thought” of a Toyota Tacoma became an important part of your thinking, I’ll bet you began to see Toyota Tacomas everywhere!

Did a huge number of Tacomas suddenly appear on the road? No. Did the sales of Tacomas suddenly explode? No. The only thing that changed was your thoughts! Only after you changed your thought process did your brain begin to really see the Tacomas that were already there.

That’s the key lesson. There’s simply too much information and too much “noise” hitting our sensory systems every day for us to process. We simply will not—and behaviorally cannot—process information, see opportunities, find creative solutions, or act, if the information, opportunity, or action does not align with the dominant thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes they “hold” in our minds.


Related Content: How to Get the Most Out of College as an Adult.


Create a Future Picture and Make it Your Reality

Step 1:  Start at the End—Create a Future Picture

Whatever you want to change, improve, or develop, the key is to start with the end. You need to build a Future Picture (FP) that describes, in present tense ... in detail ... what the end result will look like. The FP must be measurable. You can (and should) have multiple FPs for the key aspects of your life. For example, you might have an FP for your physical self, an FP for your career, and an FP for your role in a relationship or as a parent.
You need to make the FP as clear and detailed as possible, and you need to write it down! For example, writing down something like, “My goal is to exercise more and lose weight” is NOT a Future Picture. First, it’s not in present tense. Secondly, it’s not clear, measurable, and specific.

Consider this instead: “In December 2020, I exercise three times each week, mixing cardio and weight lifting for 30 minutes each session, and my diet consists of three meals per day with a mix of fruits, vegetables, and protein that total no more than 2,500 calories per day.” Now that’s a Future Picture! It is in present tense and is specific, clear, and measurable. In the Prometheus Process, the measurements of the FP components are called Measures of Merit.

Step 2:  Fill Your Thoughts with Your Future Picture(s)

Once you’ve written clear, measurable FPs in the present tense, they need to start dominating your thoughts. To do this, every day (or multiple times a day) read the FP statement and think about it. See the image, see yourself in the present tense as if the FP is real. Make your thoughts of the FP as clear and detailed as possible. Be sure to feel all the emotion, satisfaction, pleasure, and reward of that “reality” in your thoughts. Do this daily to truly solidify that thought, that reality, that FP into your conscious and subconscious.

Step 3:  Map the System and Identify Centers of Gravity

Some key strategic laws of the Prometheus Process are:

  1. Actions create the future.
  2. All actions happen within a system.
  3. Systems resist change.
  4. Systems have Centers of Gravity.
  5. To change a system, you MUST change the Centers of Gravity.

Once you have one or more FPs, create a map of the system for each FP. There are four critical components to a system map: People, Process, Infrastructure, Groups. Here is what a systems map might look like for our example above regarding the physical self:

People

Process

Infrastructure

Groups

My significant other

Going to exercise

Place to exercise

Family

My children

Grocery shopping

My job

Coworkers

My boss

Making meals

Transportation

Friends

My parent

Doing school work

Work-out clothes

 

Don’t worry about being able to “map the perfect system” or getting everything on the map. The key is to just map out or outline the “system” AS IT EXISTS TODAY IN YOUR LIFE. Once you have the system map done for each FP you’ve developed, you want to look at it to identify the Centers of Gravity (“COGs”) that need to change. 

A COG is a component of the system that has a large or multiplier effect on the whole system. Not every part of a system is a Center of Gravity. In looking at the chart above, some potential COGs might be My Significant Other, Place to Exercise, and Family. I say that these might be COGs because changing the way these are today might be extremely important in being able to make the FP become your reality. You cannot change every part of a system. But the key is to find the 3-4 critical COGs and if you work to change those, then the whole system can and will change to match what you need to achieve your FP.

Step 4:  Develop Action Plans for Each COG

Once you’ve mapped out the system and identified the 3-4 key COGs, now you’re ready to develop an Action Plan on how to go about changing the COG from its present state to what you need it to be to align with your FP. For example, let’s say you identified Place to Exercise as a COG in the system map above. How does that COG need to change in order to match your FP?  Maybe today, the COG is that you don’t have any place to work out. So how does it need to change? That COG needs to change so you have a consistent, regular place to exercise. 

Once you’ve identified how a COG needs to change, you can then develop an Action Plan to work on that change. In the example above, an Action Plan might look like this:

  1. Come up with 3-4 ideas for places to work out
  2. Determine the costs—if any—associated with each option
  3. Narrow down the options to find the best alternative
  4. Finalize the identified option and make it ready
  5. Develop a schedule to use the identified exercise space

Once you have an Action Plan for each identified COG, you can start executing your action plans. By executing your plans, you will begin to change the COGs so you have a new system that allows you to achieve your Future Picture.

Conclusion

To change any aspect of your life, you must first fill your mind with thoughts that align with the change you’re seeking. A great tool for this is to create present tense, clear, and measurable Future Pictures, then work each day to solidify those Future Pictures in your thoughts. Once a Future Picture becomes the “reality” in your mind, your own innate behavior mechanisms will go to work to help you process information, see options, and take actions that will make your Future Picture an external reality that matches the reality of the Future Picture in your thoughts. 

Again, I compressed a lot of material into a very brief blog post. Therefore, if you have further interest in these concepts, please read the materials I referenced at the beginning of this post.

I wish you the best as you continue on your journeys through school and life,


Eric Juhlin
President, Independence University

 


The Prometheus Process was created and developed by John A. Warden III of the Venturist Corporation (www.venturist.com) and explained in his book Winning In Fast Times (ISBN-13: 978-0971269712) that was co-authored by Leland A. Russell and published by GEO Group Press.

Thought Patterns for a Successful Career (ISBN-13: 978-1930622289) written by Lou Tice and Joe Pace and published by the Pacific Institute Publishing.

Pacific Institute: https://thepacificinstitute.com/

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