Own Your Future: Imagine Your Life as Chapters in a Book

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans” ~ John Lennon ~

FB SNF POSTER (200)Saturday Night Fever, with its iconic soundtrack, broke new ground as a hard hitting landmark movie.

Early on in the movie it’s a Saturday afternoon and a young Tony Manero (played by Oscar nominated, John Travolta) is angling his New York Borough hardware store boss for a raise and an advance.

His boss is trying to extol the virtues of prudence and saving for the future, at which Tony bites: ” Screw the future ”

His boss then sagely replies: “No, Tony! You can’t screw the future. The future screws you! It catches up with you and it screws you if you ain’t planned for it?” *


I suspect like many of a certain age, I first saw this movie on VHS (or was it Betamax?) and way sooner than I could fully appreciate the darker grit of its adult themes.

Irrespective, this scene and this exchange made sense to me then (on many levels) and still holds a dark humor for me now.

Writing as a late Gen X-er, it has been said we’re the most cynical of the five generations currently in the workplace.

However when Stanford University undertook research into the validity of this stereotype they determined that cynicism and disaffection had increased among all age groups surveyed over time, not just young adults, making this a period effect, not a cohort effect. In other words, people of all ages grew more cynical and disaffected, not just Generation X (Wikipedia)

So, if you want to own your future, what can you do now to influence the outcome?

As a personal development and self-awareness exercise I might think of my life as chapters in a book.

Each chapter covers five years, and with average life expectancy in the US and UK currently at 78 Years, there will hopefully be 16 chapters, and for sure there’s only one book!

I first tried this exercise when I was nearing the end of Chapter Six and the results have proven outstanding.

I gave each of those first six chapters a title, a single word or two that to me really summed up that period of my life.

Maslow Over Time




Then I looked ahead and I chose the chapter titles I wanted, and for as far ahead as I could imagine.

Looking back, and to my amazement, the titles I would now choose for the past three chapters are exactly the same titles as I had chosen back then.

Now I’m asking myself, what titles do I want for the remaining chapters? What do you want for yours?

Looking at my life as a timeline of Chapters has me thinking about my journey, but a journey to where and why?

Where are you on your timeline? Where do you want to Grow to?

I took this variation on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and drew this hockey stick on as an illustration, not because it’s an absolute truth, but because to me it conveys a sense of social expectation.

However, the idea life is a linear conveyor belt where success means riding an upward only escalator, just doesn’t seem realistic.

And how many of us can truly claim we’re ever at peace with what we’ve achieved? And what if someone hasn’t yet unlocked their potential, is it really ever too late?

You may be reading this and thinking this is all well and good, but I never have enough time. I have found a way of looking at 168 hours in every week that I find very powerful.

I believe if you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. I also believe that whatever you relied on to get you here, probably won’t help you to get to there.

However, I have experienced how taking ownership of my future has shaped, and continues to shape, the present I want.

“It catches up with you… if you ain’t planned for it” as Tony Manero’s hard hit, hardworking, hardware store owner, so eloquently puts it.

I’m passionate about continuous improvement. I don’t aim to be better than someone else, I aim to be better than yesterday.

I bring deep expertise in finance and business transformation to quickly add value. Let me know how you want to transform your business.


*Apologies to Norman Wexler (Screenwriter) for toning down his screenplay: Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen, nominee: Writers Guild of America, USA (1978) ~IMDB.com


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