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Lining Up Your Future Ducks

  • 5 min read

Lining Up Your Future Ducks

"If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable." — Seneca

Steven Kotler from the Flow Research Collective describes this as uncertainty. He says, "Uncertainty creeps in everywhere, all the time. We’re uncertain about what task to do next or how to spend the rest of the day. We’re uncertain about what the next six months should look like in our business or professional life. Ultimately, all too many of us are pretty damn uncertain about the direction we want our lives to take. The issue is that this uncertainty paralyzes us and blocks us from 'Flow'. Being clear on where you want to go, and exactly how you’re going to get there, is incredibly important for flow. Without clear goals, we can’t direct our attention." 

It's truly a dilemma. Control | the feeling of knowing (approximately) where you are heading (the port, pond, or lake), the knowledge that you've got the parts of the journey articulated (the ducks), and the feeling that you have the skills and resources available for you to tackle the challenge/s.

Seriously though, are your ducks even heading the same way? Or are one or two of the little duckers pointing in completely different directions? Have one or two wandered off, leaving you with unsustainable levels of cortisol (stress), continuous epinephrine (adrenaline), and unhelpfully high levels of nor-epinephrine (cascading anxiety)?

If you haven't identified the pond or lake you're aiming to land on (your future dream), then it's extraordinarily hard to plan the flight path and track your progress toward the achievement of your dreams.

If you were to stand by a window, or on a balcony, looking out over an area of nature, or a grand landscape, might you be able to look me in the eye, square your shoulders and state the following?

"It is 2025 | my company employs ? team members | I turn over $? million, with a profit margin of ? % | I holiday with my family for ? weeks year | I have contributed to ? charities and support ? | my health, weight, and fitness are optimal | I am leading a life of challenge, and joy, and my world is sustainable and of value."

Whatever your current circumstance or journey, would you be able to clearly articulate your dream/s, and the future 'You'; the You, of the next 3-5 years? And clarify the how, the when, the where, and the what.

Qualifying as a duck wrangler starts with the ability to dream and to succinctly articulate the dream; and then to plan the steps backward from the dream to where you stand today, prioritising the steps (ducks) in the journey towards that anticipated end result (the pond or lake - dream), followed by committing to the doing.

Dr. Michael Easter 'The Comfort Crisis', speaks of the 2%. 'The 2% of people who choose to 'take the stairs', choose to do the things that are only a fraction harder, but harder all the same. Accumulating little moments where we embrace discomfort can have a larger impact on our health/life than heroic efforts. The 2 percent of people who take the stairs and apply the same logic throughout their lives are consistently healthier than the people who go all-in in short bursts.' Reducing overwhelm and gaining control of your world is hard graft, ducking uncomfortable, and requires you to become the woman or man of successful routine and rituals. Should 2023 be the time for you to choose and commit to the future 'You', this duck-liner-up pathway may be of help |

  1. articulate the dream (imagining/visualising, the future you stand in and have created in the next 3-5 years). I highly recommend you really do stand in a place with a grand view and speak your future out aloud (preferably to an audience you trust), then write it down
  2. envision standing in that place and looking backward to your, 'today'
  3. speaking, as if standing in the future, ask yourself 'how did I get here, what were my ducks?'. What skills did I need to build on or acquire? Who did I need to partner with to complete this journey? Where was I at 30 months, 24 months, 18 months, 12 months, and six months, to ensure my ducks remained lined up?
  4. define the measurables, the steps (the ducks), that you need to deliver on, to be able to stand as the future 'You'. A little hint; name each duck and write them onto little sticky notes and you can shuffle them around until they make sense
  5. and then put those ducks into your diary, lined up; assign the measurables, (dates, cost, skills acquisition, allocation of tasks), and then invite an accountability buddy into your world to challenge you, cheerlead beside you and help you hold your course
  6. lastly, speak regularly of your truth, of the You of 2025.

One challenge to be aware of. From Steven Kotler's latest newsletter. "Research done by Stanford Social Psychologist, Dr. Christina Maslach found that insufficient reward is just as much of a contributor to burnout and anxiety, as overworking is. It’s super important to know exactly what a win looks like. Otherwise, you’ll never get a sense of reward and life will just feel like an unending slog toward some undefined and out-of-sight endpoint."

For every duck (win), it is required that there is recognition that it has been achieved. Ticked off, measured, and clearly recognised as part of your daily, weekly, monthly, bi-annual, and yearly reflection of your journey. The tick off the list; the, 'I've nailed that duck'.

Duck wrangling requires consistency, a steady eye, and a gentle voice for oneself. You get to choose to see humour in failure, to grasp the opportunity on shitty days when a handful of your ducks are behaving like rabid squirrels, and most importantly to seek help, support, and sound counsel. Going it alone is achievable, but far harder than required. Partner up, share your duck stories, and line them up, just the way they need to be.

May 2023 be your year for a flock of clearly identified, well-ordered, and deeply nurtured ducks. May you know which pond you are aiming to land in, and may your flight path be clear and your obstacles identified.

Reach out if you seek support articulating your future; I'd be delighted to fly beside you. And I also have some great duck recipes should we need to cull a few from your flock.