Some of you may be facing 3 more years of the same old, same old status quo. Others may be on the precipice of major changes and choices in life.
But wouldn’t it be cool to jump 3 years into the future to get a glance at how things will pan out?
That’s what “Parks and Recreation” did on their recent season finale. Not to give anything away, but the final scene took Leslie Knope and her Pawnee crew on a bold leap , skipping over 3 years and settling into the near future where the next season will take place.
Time Jumps are becoming more and more common on TV shows these days as a way to freshen up a stale story. “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” used them prominently. Each season of “Mad Men” jumps a a few months or even years from where the previous season left off. Shows like “The Office” and “Dawson’s Creek” used time jumps in their final episodes to show us what became of our favorite characters years down the line.
The Time Jump doesn’t have to be a tool used solely by television writers.
As you write out the story of your life, you may not be able to literally jump to the future (at least not with technology as we know it today).
But what if you paused for a moment to get a broader picture of your story? What if you asked yourself,
“What do I want my story to look like 3 years from now?”
Today I want to challenge you to take a Time Jump with your life. Spend a few minutes with a pen and paper or an open Word document thinking about what your ideal life would like 3 years from now.
To simplify, try to think of 3 storylines you would either like to be in the midst of or have completed by 2017.
Once you have an idea of what you want your story to look like 3 years from now, you gain clarity about the steps you need to be taking each day to make the future into a reality.
For example, here are 3 things I’d like to see in place in my life if I took a Time Jump 3 years into the future:
1) A Stable, Enriching Job – The biggest struggle in my life today is finding a stable, enriching job. I don’t know what my ideal job is, and I’m not necessarily looking for the perfect job. But I’ve been on a journey for the past few months seeking a job more in line with what I believe my calling to be. I hope that I can find one that enriches my life and allows me to enrich the lives of others while making it possible for me to provide for my future wife and family.
2) Financial Peace – One of the biggest stressors for my fiancé and I is our financial situation. We recently completed Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. The series was insightful and encouraging. I’m excited that I won’t be bringing any debt into our marriage, but I am still not at a real level of Financial Peace. My finances are not secure with my current employment situations. I’m not in a place to be building up savings or wealth. Every week is paycheck to paycheck. Combined with my first goal, I hope in 3 years my life will not be so consumed with the fear of money.
3) A Published Book – I started POP GOD for a number of reasons last year. One of those reasons was to grow my writing ability and discipline so that I could eventually publish a book. It’s a dream of mine I know I can make happen within the next 3 years. It’s a long term goal and a long process. I’m in the baby stages of it, writing drafts of chapters and brainstorming ideas. Whether through a traditional outlet or self-publishing, I want to see this goal accomplished within the next 3 years.
Once you know what you want your story to look like in the future, why not start living with with those goals in mind?
Because as it turns out, we’re all traveling through time in life, choice by choice, day by day.
If you want to be a successful time traveler, you have to know your destination before you start moving.
Of course, God may have His own plans, distinct and different from our own. He has no problem making room for His plans amongst the stories we write out, often interrupting our decisions.
When Leslie and Ben jump into the future on “Parks and Rec”, life is not perfect. The final scene finds them firing a new employee, scrambling for a babysitter, and running hurriedly around the office as they try to deal with a major problem. The ideal life is not a perfect life.
A Time Jump does not fix everything. Just because we plan our future does not mean it is set in stone or it will come easily to us.
As exciting as it is to see where Leslie and Ben and April and Andy wind up, we do miss out on their journey, only hearing snippets of it along the way. We don’t necessarily see all the struggles which led them to their happy place in life.
The beauty of reality is in the journey, not just the destination. We are not meant to leap into the future blowing past the difficulties in life. God does however gift us with a healthy and creative imagination to allow us to create the draft of an ideal life.
He then gives us the pencil and asks us to start storyboarding. Any good author knows the story often changes along the way from what we originally intended. But the first step to a perfect season finale in our life is figuring out what we want the end of the journey to look like.
I am not an expert time traveler by any means, but it is a subject that intrigues me. Here are my first set of Tips For The Beginning Time Traveler, inspired by the movie About Time. And if you’re looking for an excellent tool to plan out the future stories of your life, check out Donald Miller’s Storyline. It’s an essential tool I use everyday in my life – one that will give you clarity and peace as you sort out the purpose of your life.