Just 4 Little Words…


The answer to this question is largely determined by another question…

Where is your focus?


We have been conditioned to believe that the past determines the future, when it is actually the future that determines the present.

How you see the future, not how you are bound by the past, is much more important.

What we believe the future will be and imagining into that future creates the vitality of the present. It is the source of creativity in the present and it is the essence of hope, possibility, and vitality.

We usually do not spend a great deal of time thinking about the future after we are 10 or 12, but we do have a very powerful, vague idea of how it is going to be. It is taking that vague notion of the future and filling it with dreams, goals, and the power of the imagination that changes our mind-set from being fixed to being open and available for growth.

Just as an exercise, imagine six impossible things before breakfast. You will be using parts of your brain that are vital to the overall health of your brain.

Read this one more time: It is the future that determines the present. It is your vague, almost unconscious notion of the future that is doing a great big job on you, your mood, your apprehensions, and your daily zest, vitality and creativity.

Ordinary mental life is chock-full of this activity. Mind wandering, day-dreaming and fantasy are the least of it. In an ordinary conversation, for example, the mind is continually “running ahead” of present stimuli, exploring possibilities for the meaning of the other’s remarks or for one’s own next response.

The left frontal lobe of your brain, just to name one part, is about visioning and direction. It works in tandem with the right hemisphere to get the “whole picture” and then to make choices about future directions.

If you don’t use this part of your brain for this purpose of visioning, it goes over and over the sorting process of what is simply there already –round and round and round. If you don’t use this part of your brain, you dwell on the mundane, what the neighbors are doing, and you talk more about other people than you talk about ideas.

What do you think your future will bring? What are you expecting? What is most influencing your future, the evening news report and the stock exchange numbers, the size of your bank account, or the size of your imagination?

No invention, no real progress was ever brought to fruition without imaging some greater part of the process. The point of change is when we get off the problem and say, “what’s next?” The Mind will answer back from the open empty part, not the problem-filled focus.

You have an idea of the future, and it is much more significant than your past. Unearthing your past will not engage your future. Transformational moments happen when we begin to imagine possibilities. If you have to dig up your past to get to the place where you can do that, then do it.

But if you don’t, just consider this: what is possible?

© Dr. William K. Larkin

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Dwayne Paro

    How many times have I allowed my past experience taint my future experience? Too many times to count, a form of self sabotage, I do attribute it to being conditioned that the past is a predictor of the future. Which lends itself to the Hericlitus effect, focusing on the negative can certainly create that future outcome. Growing up I had a great imagination, use to draw and write short stories all the time. As I’ve gotten older I’ve lost a lot of my creativity (which is show in my strengths score, #23 out of 24) which as I learn this material I believe is a limiting factor to my ability to want certain things in the future and create a really exciting future. The question on what is most influencing your future is a critical question to answer. I have to say for me its financial freedom (which I need to better define) and sadly at this time my limiting beliefs and limited imagination which can be self sabotaging. I know deep down what is possible is huge, will I allow myself to get there or will it be some variation there of?

  • Dr. gloria wright

    I remember wanting to start school. I remember wanting to date and drive and get married and go to college and…. I remember wanting to complete my PhD. I never wanted to be 60 or 70 or…. Somehow the senior years haven’t held an imagined pull of “looking forward to.” There is pleasure in the moment, but looking forward to bridge on Tuesday doesn’t fill me with awe and passion.
    Dr. Larkin espouses that “It is the future that determines the present.” So to be happy today, I better be imagining a happy future? That’s some food for thought! And add to that that it impacts me, my mood, my apprehensions, and my daily zest,
    vitality and creativity? Whew. Sounds like important stuff to me.
    It’s interesting to note if we don’t have some future image to pull us along, we seem to ruminate in the past or rummage around in our minds over the mundane.Oh, gosh, it sounds boring, doesn’t it?
    “What’s next?” is a question that often motivates me to create something to look forward to, even if it is just a beach trip. But as I write this I wonder if I might want a longer-term project with meaning to give me a beacon to fire up the visioning part of my brain?
    Thanks for the kick in the pants, Dr. Larkin. May the visions appear.

  • Kathy Lee

    I want a bright and prosperous future for everyone, including myself. I think about this wonderful planet and its bounties, the beauty all around us and want us to look after the earth and all the people in it. I envision a future when we as a human race mature into the noble beings we were meant to become. I see a vast flower garden of variegated hues, shapes and fragrances, all blending together in absolute magnificent beauty – all the colors of the human race in a vast array of beauty. I see a future, and it may be generations from now, where science and religion will be harmonious pathways of discovery and truth-finding. I see women and men partnering as the two strong wings of a bird witch allow it to soar in the vast space above. I see religious fanaticism transforming into religious harmony and understanding that all faiths stem from the same Source. I see children around the globe with access to educations, girls and boys, same curriculum. I see racial animosity transmuted into interracial fellowship, intermarriage and a global consciousness that the “earth is one country and mankind its citizens.” I see poverty erased by the will of all people; and health increasing along with longevity and quality of life by refining our understanding of the human brain. This is what I dream of when I think of the future of humanity and this is what I strive to contribute towards in my work and play. I get happy and excited every time I hold this vision of a spiritually and materially prosperous humanity. This is worthy of my attachment.

  • Yolanda Smith

    Quite often,  what someone may want and where their focus is are totally separate. I say that based on personal experience and living that scenario for far too long.

    Due to a lack of knowledge in this particular area, we do sometimes allow the events of our past to cloud the possibilities of our future. When we  allow ourselves to replay the voices which have taken up residence in our minds, then we thwart the process of moving forward to creating an amazing life for ourselves.

    Six years ago, I began doing my own research on the mind, the power of thoughts and words. I never truly understood, how powerful we as humans truly are.  I didn’t know, that I could use my imagination to change my life and get the things that I want. This revelation truly does give one hope for a better life and future.

    I recently had a situation, where I had to make a decision about ending a business relationship. Due to my long history with this person, I stayed in it long Beyond its expiration date. I knew that staying in it what stifle my forward movement and make it difficult to carry out the vision of what I truly wanted for my life. The fear of confrontation is what most stifled me from making this decision sooner. However, my desire to be free to pursue what I wanted for my own future, superseded my fear of ending the relationship.  When I found the courage to make the transition, I immediately felt the surge of excitement hope and expectation for my future. 

    If a person is able to understand in the simplest terms,1) the concept of imagining into the future; 2) that there are parts if their brain that are constantly planning; 3) and that they can in fact overcome their past and truly decide what they want . . Then they can begin to craft the life, that they may have thought wasn’t ever possible.

  • Kalah Vaughan

    I am in love with this blog topic. It is so true to me. I often notice when a conversation that I am thinking what I want to say next,or how can I get them to see my point? I try to stop myself when doing this and really let go of my side of the conversation to be able to really listen to the others words and mannerism. Reading these words help me realize what are brain is doing while I am in a conversation, also helps me realize that it may be perfectly normal.

    I really enjoy the small, but large exercise to think of six things that might be impossible before breakfast. I started to think of one large dream than another one just flowed in. Granted these are ideas I had before but than would get lost in reality of the present and the “how”. I encourage all of you to try this exercise and let your mind have no limits. It might help to imagine multiple parallel universes and each one of your impossible dreams have already been accomplished in another universe. When you think of a dream or gal in this way it is easier to actually picture the other “you”in the multiple universe actually playing out and living these dreams. Than you can start to go a step further and look deep into the mirror and imagine the other “you” that has already accomplished your big dreams and so much more. Ask her or him “what did you do to get where you are today? How did accomplish the impossible? What is the first step to accomplish my want and desires?” You never know what you might here them say back to you. This is an extension of tools and exercise that I would use to open my imagination and really learn how to visualize and create my desired life.

    It has not always been this easy to visualize or know what I wanted. I used to believe that nothing in my life could be accomplished that is big. That my dreams and desires should remain hidden so that I didn’t make others feel bad about themselves if they didn’t have dreams and desires. I came out of my shell when I realized each one of us is a unique individual and we each deserve to live a at the fullest possible levels. On here I have learned this to be know as living in the up-spiral. To conclude, I would like to share with you my six impossible dreams I thought about before breakfast.
    1. becoming a multi- millionaire
    2. help thousands of people become a better “them”
    3. Help animals, especially dogs all around the world
    4. Help nature to continue to flourish is the right way
    5. to live in a non polluted nature loving world
    6.to own a log cabin mansion and travel six months of the year in a tiny luxorios house

  • Sheila

    I was struck by how relevant Dr Larkin’s post was to me at this particular moment in my life, on what do you want?

    Great question.

    I think I know what I want, but have not known how to get there, or, really have not got that “knowing” to be a really exact picture of the future.

    I feel as if I have spent the last two years navel gazing and being stuck in paralysis, by, analysis. My number one strength is critical thinking, yet I feel as if I have been procrastinating.

    Or, have I? Maybe it’s because I am not 100% clear on exactly what is that I want, that I can’t decide, so, critical thinking says, stay put.

    I want to move forward, but, know that it will entail quite a lot of change and at 56, with some negative past experiences tugging at my heart and brain, it seems so much harder. I try not to look back on past mistakes, but, I guess somewhere along the line, they are deeper in my psyche than I thought them to be.

    It’s a relief when you do finally do make a decision and go for what you want. So, my goal is that through this work I will be able to identify all that I want and thereby unlock the doors to my future.

  • Yvette Gauff

    When we were assigned this blog, and I saw the topic, “Just Four Little Words”, I remember getting a giddy feeling. I was excited! I suspected the four little words indeed were “what do you want?” Why excited? In the course of doing the ANI work, I have a renewed motivation to look at my desires with a new sense of hope and anticipation that they can come to pass. As a person who’s always been a dreamer, it is exciting to know that there is power in one’s ability to use the positive thoughts of the future to produce a progressive outcome in one’s life, in the present and in days to come. It has been like hearing, ‘Permission Granted” to dreaming again!

    “What we believe the future will be and imagining into that future creates the vitality of the present. It is the source of creativity in the present and it is the essence of hope, possibility, and vitality”.

    This resonated with me, as I found my life to illustrate this statement. The use of the exercises in the emotional gym, discovering, acknowledging and focusing on my strengths, and the ongoing development of my VibeCore, have all provided an impetus for personal and professional growth, and movement into a state of Upspiral. My vitality is tangibly increasing. As I give voice to and focus on the things I want, not justifying them, just allowing them to be and manifest, I am experiencing times of flow that are liberating. The idea that we can shift, and from the present create our futures, not by mulling over and trying to figure out our past, but rather by casting ahead of us, based upon an inward, innate desire is extremely powerful and encouraging! I remember in times past seeing the statement “The future is now”; this concept of prospection gives the statement a whole new meaning.

    “No invention, no real progress was ever brought to fruition without imaging some greater part of the process. The point of change is when we get off the problem and say, “what’s next?” (I can imagine God and the Universe saying, “I am so glad you asked!”) The Mind will answer back from the open empty part, not the problem-filled focus”. What of planes, trains, automobiles and electricity, for that matter? What if Edison talked himself out of the experimentation that came from a thought within his imagination? Or the Wright Brothers determined this idea of a machine that could leave the ground and fly like a bird was impossible? We would have been denied what have today, become mainstay modern conveniences.

    The inability to see and believe beyond what is before us at the moment, can be detrimental and damaging. One of my favorite quotes is by philosopher and poet Henry David Thoreau: “Move confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined”. As stated here, “What is most influencing your future…the size of your imagination?”

    In the words of Seligman, “ If x, then y”!

    With each new day, we have the choice, the opportunity for a new beginning. Each new day is like a cleared field ready for planting. Our thoughts, attitudes, and actions are the seeds we plant in anticipation of a future harvest. What type of harvest we have is up to us.

  • Eddy Macdonald

    I love the challenge of specificity in what I want in the future and how it impacts my present. In working with clients on this, as well as myself, it seems like that is often the real challenge. Not that we necessarily want something other than what we really want, but more that we want to want something that isn’t quite in focus yet. It still feels blurry and far away. Because if that, it may look different to us than what it really is.

  • Echo Macdonald

    It is so easy in our present-day culture to just survive in the moment. The fast pace of daily activities, the myriad collections of “to-do’s” and responsibilities can overwhelm us so that there is little time for pondering, day-dreaming or even thinking about the future in a wistful way. We have to be intentional in the ownership of the freedom to wonder or wander into the future. We have to let go of the present and the past long enough to walk through the door mentally into the future. Kind of like Alice in Wonderland, choosing to drink the potion or eat the cake that equipped her to go back to Wonderland for the next adventure. We have to know that we want the future, have permission to explore there and to own it in the making of our dreams and adventures. Learning about our individual strengths and pulsing the Emotional Gym have opened the Wanting Door to a new future with new adventures ahead. It’s kind of like discovering ourselves in the Looking Glass.

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