Your Ideals and Their Future

What to do to turn a “there should be” into a “there is”

Today, these are my ideals. These are the things I want to be more true, because I don’t find them to be true enough:

We should all be able to catch ourselves when our mind plays tricks on us
Our privacy should be enshrined and protected
Leaders should be able to surpass their egos and manage their psychology, in order to be deeply constructive
There should be more people who are able to adapt quickly to big changes
There should be more leaders who create an environment for others to grow

Also, If I look at the past decade or so, these were the things I remember wanting to be true:

We should centre our decisions on the users of our products and services
We should make changes to our organizations so that the best ideas are explored

And you, what do you think should be more true? What are your ideals?


Since you probably can’t shake off your ideals, it’s important to give them their best shot at becoming true. So here’s what I propose:

Make each ideal personal

Let’s take the following ideal:

There should be more leaders who create an environment for others to grow

To make this one personal, to make it true in my life, I’d re-write it successively as:

I should be surrounded by leaders who create an environment for their workers to grow
I should create an environment for others to grow

Start with a future, any future

To turn these “There should be’s” into “There is”, pretend that there’s a future in which they will be true.

Eventually:
There will be more leaders who create an environment for their workers to grow
I will have created an environment for others to grow into leaders who can do the same

Better yet, take other deadlines of yours (the end of the month, the end of the year) and stick your ideals in there:

Before the end of the next three years, I’ll have:
Created an environment for my family and a few other people to grow
Before the end of the year, I’ll have:
Started creating an environment for others to grow
Before the end of the month, I’ll have:
Started creating an environment so that I can grow

Create milestones from your ideals

Since it’s awkward to suppose you’ll do things by a certain date — especially ideals — what if we were to turn the ideal itself into a milestone?

What if we were to imagine the future when your ideal will be installed? How would you describe what you’re celebrating at that moment? What has been accomplished so that you can say that your ideal has been achieved?

Before I can say that I’ll have created an environment for others to grow, I’ll have:
Created an environment so that I can grow
Found what an environment for others to grow looks like
Tended to my other responsibilities

Write them once, write them a second time

Put your list aside, and start a new one from scratch to see if you come up with different words. This way, you’re free to use your intuition differently to see what comes up. Restart your list from scratch as often as needed. Once it starts repeating itself, you know you’ve got something solid.

Before I can say that I’ll have created an environment for others to grow, I’ll have:
Found a way to do my to-dos and advance on my goals
Found a way to work on my own growth and tend to others at the same time
Determined for whom I’ll be creating an environment for growth
Developed an open relationship with these other people first

Prioritize to find the one thing you can do

Ask yourself the question: Suppose there’s one thing that I’ll be able to say is most true, by the time that ideal will be met, while the others on the list will only be a little true. What will be most true? Put it at the top. Then, once you’ve identified the first priority (the one that will be most true at that time), go down the list again and ask the same question about the rest, successively finding the priority in the remaining items, until you get to the bottom.

Before I can say that I’ll have created an environment for others to grow, I’ll have:
Determined for whom I’ll be creating an environment for growth
Developed an open relationship with these other people first
Found a way to work on my own growth and tend to others at the same time
Found a way to do my to-dos and advance on my goals

Tweak the words, indent, be precise

While prioritizing gets you to find out what really matters, further tweaks can do something else: make them more real. More realistic, more tangible, more specific, more true for you.

(Changing how the list is displayed so we can show indentation)

Install these objectives into your life’s other milestones

By having tweaked and re-worded them, it now feels a little inevitable that you’ll celebrate this victory eventually. You might even start to feel the difference today, that at the end of the day, you’ll have achieved a little of that new mindset, that new posture that you’re envisioning.

To install this ideal even further, why not go back to real-life milestones you already have and write successive objectives for getting to your ideal:

Start small, make these ideals personal, and before long, you’ll find yourself having installed your ideals.


The lists used above (lists that start with “Before… I’ll have”) are like a new language. It’s the kind of language that, with practice, sticks around for a long time. That’s why I’m running a course on writing these lists of objectives. Week after week, over the course of 10 weeks, you’ll receive a new use case over email and you’ll get personal coaching on writing your objectives.