‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’ – Eleanor Roosevelt
Our final examination was the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSE). This exam was a moment of truth for myself, my colleagues in Achimota School and, of course, all form 3 students in Senior High School. The WASSE was a decider for us; it was set to evaluate our learning, assess our understanding and performance and, very importantly, launch us into a future of greater possibilities.
Our posture toward this future of gaining admission into one tertiary institution or another was a whole plot for a movie! We stayed up to study. We studied all day. We placed our feet in water to ensure we did not even doze off. We chewed gum. We reduced idle chatter. We denied ourselves our regular excitement and fun activities. We were planning for the future!
Planning for any form of future will require a conscious decision, sacrifices and a commitment to see that future take shape. In the next paragraphs, you will appreciate some instructive guidelines as you embark on a journey into the future.
To begin with, when we talk of the future the discussion is centred on an activity that is to happen at a later date. It describes a time that is yet to come. In the scenario of our WASSCE exams, our entrance to university remained in the future. It was to happen at a future date.
To plan, on the other hand, is to have a detailed proposal of achieving something. It explains a decision to perform an activity. A plan captures an intention or a design to make something happen. As students, our decision included us studying more than we would. We can consider the placing of our feet in water as a strategy, as part of the plan. In fact, the chewing of gum was an effective plan as well to keep us up. For whatever endeavour you seek to achieve in the future, you will find solace in the pointers I discuss in the following.
- Clarity: Being coherent, certain and intelligible with what you intend to achieve. We were sure of what our intention was; it was to gain admission to our preferred tertiary institution. How clear are you on what you need to achieve?
I recommend an exercise for you. Find a place where you are certain you will not be interrupted. Conduct an introspection and make decisions for yourself. Decisions that you are comfortable with. Ensure that these are not decisions that reflect the kind of life others want for you, but something you want for yourself. Very importantly, be sure of where you want to get to.
- Assess your current location
Ask critical questions about the future. When you are certain as to where you want to go or what you want to achieve, you are at the starting point of getting there. You can now channel all your energy into it. Preview the future in broad terms and settle on the minors that you need to do to get there as well.
- The past is not the present: In my attempt to ensure that I passed my WASSCE, I did not have to dwell on my performances whether good or bad in previous classes. In investment, advisors often say past performances do not reflect future results. When you dwell too long on the past, it traps your present joy and freezes you from getting into the future.
- Do susu: Susu represents a traditional way of saving. In Africa, predominantly in Ghana, susu collectors are a traditional form of financial intermediaries. Often, for a small fee, they provide convenient means for individuals and small businesses to save, get access to loans and other credit facilities with time.
A journey into your future will place a financial demand on you. With periodic hikes in prices, chances that the price of items and services will change at a future date is high. Start a form of savings or investment. Join a susu group, get a susu box for yourself, visit a bank and open an account; and if you have an account already, be consistent with your deposits. Your future ambitions will cost you some money.
- Format your local restrictions: For a typical student who is in a senior high school like myself, then the university is a big place. We certainly could not enter with a dining hall mentality. Today you are at entry level in your organisation, how do you envisage your future? The preview you give to this future will inform the kind of activities you do now.
If you see yourself as a senior executive in the near-future you will place a demand on yourself to think big, read wide, take on some professional courses and, very importantly, understudy a senior executive in your organisation. Just like how you would format your phone and/or computer to make new or better installations, format yourself from small-mindedness. The future you seek is big: think as such.
- Break fear and inertia: The fear of sitting and writing any examination can be daunting. Be it a first degree, postgraduate examination or professional ones like the ACCA and SPHR, all exams can elicit some fear in you. Your resolve to harness this fear to your advantage is critical for launching you into the future.
It has been said that if your dreams do not scare you, then they are probably not big enough. Your future is certainly bigger than your present, it is only right that you are intimidated slightly by the thought of it. The important thing is to embrace the joy that comes with achieving the goal. Break free from the shrouded confines of fear. Take a step into the future and become a better version of yourself.
>>>the writer is a corporate trainer and professional ghostwriter assisting busy executives to write and publish their books, articles and speeches. He has served as Head of Protocol at a diplomatic mission, Corporate Affairs Officer at a French multinational agribusiness and as Events and Media Correspondent for a digital ad agency. You may contact the author via; [email protected]