The Wrong Future

Caregivers experience a wide range of stressful situations that require a singularity of focus. While hyper-focus works in the short term, in the long term it takes an insidious toll. Health, activities, friends and finally the future all fall by the wayside and with them the loss of hope. It’s akin to losing a paddle in white water.

Caregivers wind up with a default future where events dictate the outcome. It may look like the wisdom of acceptance but it’s only half the work. It’s lacking the critical process of identifying things that can be changed and the motivation to do it. Sadly, the heart and brain take this acceptance of a default future as a signal to stand down. Now what?

Reclaiming the future requires a shift in caregiver perspective, one that can be initiated by a change in questions. Loss of the future thinking brings with it immobilizing questions like “why bother?” and “whose fault is it?” Following Dr. Marilee Adam’s pioneering work in Question Thinking, caregivers need to replace these self-fulfilling mantras with mobilizing questions like “what’s possible” and “what’s useful about this situation?”

This exercise is centered on three powerful mobilizing questions:

1. If we were sitting here one year from today, April 2016, what would have had to happen in the past year to make you feel good about your quality of life?

2. How do you look and feel?

3. What activities are you doing?

We are talking about what has already happened. Just write down what happened and not spend any time worrying about the “how.” Assume you successfully figured it out. As important, write down why you made the change. Why did you choose this area or these areas of your life to change and what was the payoff?

This mobilizing question exercise is from Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach program. It asks your heart and brain to envision a different future, one that restores balance and hope. It doesn’t ignore the white water; it just gives you your paddle back.