"Do not allow a thought to enter your mind about where you are at today when you are deciding where you are headed."
I jotted down the quote above more than a decade ago at a business conference. I do not know to whom it is originally attributed, but I have thought about it often over the past several years. At some point in time, we have all asked ourselves, "Where am I headed?"
At moments, I've found myself in wonderful career situations and was obviously very bullish on my future. After all, it's easy to view the years ahead through an optimistic lens when you're riding high. However, other times I've found myself at a crossroads -- faced with a decision to change roles, companies or even industries. In fact, I've even had to start over completely more than once. At those critical junctures, it's easier to be conservative or cautious or even jaded about one's future. The trick is not to be.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn't let your current situation and surroundings impact your vision for the future.
1. Limiting yourself is a sure-fire way to not reach your potential.
If you aren't where you want to be professionally or personally, the temptation to dampen your life's ambition is strong. In fact, others may advise you to go conservative with your dreams to soften the blow should you fall short. While setting big goals doesn't ensure you'll reach them, not setting them will almost guarantee you don't. Historically, those who have achieved the most are the ones who set out to do huge things against all odds, logic and probability.
2. Everyone needs something that stirs his or her soul -- especially top performers.
When was the last time something you sought to accomplish gave you chills or goose bumps? When you've found your true compelling stretch vision, there's magic behind it. It will help you navigate the route to get there and power through the toughest obstacles. Still, this vision has to be so exciting to you personally that nothing short will be acceptable. A sensible or practical goal will not get you there. As Victor Hugo said: :Each man should frame life so that at some future hour, fact and his dreaming meet."
3. It's not relevant.
Where you are at today has little to do with what happens moving forward. Some people allow their current positions to dominate their thoughts about future advancement. Sadly, they are unlikely to accomplish all that you will.
Those who make big things happen do so by accepting where they are today but simultaneously refuse to let this limit them. They realize they have far more control over their destinies than that. They stop focusing on what they don't have and pour their energy into what they want.
4. Understand the power of momentum and how it can work for you.
The key to conquering the biggest obstacles is to dissect them into smaller challenges. The fastest sports car in the world doesn't go instantaneously from 0 to 100 miles per hour. First, it goes from a complete stop to 1 mph. As it picks up speed, accelerating becomes easier -- the engine is warm, the gas pedal pressed, and forward momentum is on your side.
Some people are daunted by a stretch goal, because it seems so distant. Keep your eyes on the prize, but focus your daily attention on closing the gap just a little. The power of momentum engages -- first steps become hops, jumps and then leaps.
5. Thinking and aiming big forces you to be more creative, work harder and develop a bias towards action.
The people who achieve the biggest goals are often the people you'd least suspect. Superficially, on paper, they don't have the perfect resume, but the pursuer knows they deliver their absolute best every day. This positive self-pressure generates growth. Mediocre goals never bring out greatness.
No goal is too large or challenging if you have the resolve to put in the work. Your next move or ambition can seem crazy to everyone else -- but it doesn't matter. Never let where you are at today limit you. Believe in yourself, and you can make anything happen.