From This Day Forward

From this day forwardLet’s play a little alternate reality imagination game.

Note: Because this website is about business, we’re using business examples. But you could make substitutions if you want. Substitute your failing diet! Substitute your rotting house! Substitute your relationship with your codependent mother! No matter. The game stays the same.

Let’s say business isn’t going well.

You’re not making money.

Or you’re making money, but only barely.

Or you’re making more money that you can count… and you hate every minute of it.

Or you’re making money now but you think the trend is going to pass. You’re worried the bottom’s going to drop out.

You have invested a lot in this business. You have inventory, maybe. You have a list. You have a social media following. You have intellectual property.

You have a lot invested, but you’re still wondering. Should you break it and start over? Or is there a way to turn this around?

Now imagine the Pod People come and “You” get replaced with “Alternate Reality You”.

Alternate Reality You looks like you and thinks like you and wants all the same things you do.

The only difference between You and Alternate Reality You is that she is new here. She has no history or memory of anything that happened before this moment.

She doesn’t know how hard it was to build the business.

She doesn’t know how much you struggled to build that inventory.

She doesn’t know how much it took out of you to build that following.

She doesn’t know how grueling it was to create that intellectual property.

She wasn’t here then. She’s only here now.

Somebody identical to you inherits your business, sight unseen. She has no ties to the past, but she has plenty of desires and preferences for the future.

She is just as subjective about the future as you are. The difference is, she has no attachment to the past. About the past, she can be objective.

Alternate Reality You looks around. She’s a bit disappointed about the state of the office. She’s confused about why one wall in the kitchen is yellow and the rest are not. She’s not 100% sure why there are so many clothes in the closet with the tags still on. But she’s adjusting.

Alternate Reality You goes to work at her “new” business. She surveys the situation and her gut response is exactly the same as yours.

“Holy hell, list growth is slow.”

“Man, we’re spending a lot of time in social media.”

“Sweet Jesus, these clients are time-sucking emotional vampires.”

Then Alternate Reality You does just what you, or anyone else, would do. She starts thinking about what she would like to change.

She imagines a life where her current problems do not exist anymore.

She envisions a business that does not suck.

She pictures nice clients, and more of them. Or she pictures a business that isn’t focused on clients at all. Or she pictures scrapping the whole thing altogether and writing smut novels instead.

What she feels, thinks, and dreams is exactly what YOU feel, think, and dream.

But here’s how she’s different.

The only time Alternate Reality You can comprehend is the present and the future.

Alternate Reality You is not attached to the past.

Either she doesn’t know or she doesn’t care. All she’s thinking about is now, and after now.

All she can think about is what happens…

… from this day forward.

She looks at her intellectual property and says, “God, I hate that my name is on that book.” She does not follow it up with, “But it took me so long to write.”

She doesn’t know and she doesn’t care.

She looks at her month ahead and says, “God, I hate every single one of these clients.” She does not follow it up with, “But I worked so hard to build up my client list.”

She doesn’t know and she doesn’t care.

She looks at her money in and money out and says, “This isn’t working and it never has.” She does not follow it up with, “But I’ve been doing it for three years – I can’t quit now!”

She doesn’t know and she doesn’t care.

So imagine You and Alternate Reality You (ARY) sat down for a coffee somewhere.

You: See, but, I’ve been doing this for three years. I can’t quit now!

ARY: OK, so if you can’t quit now, when can you quit?

You: [awkward pause] I love these new pumpkin muffins.

ARY: I mean it. Should you quit after you’ve put in three more years?

You: [annoyed that ARY is not playing the game right] Shut up. Don’t be like that. You know what I mean.

ARY: I’m actually not sure that I do.

You: Yeah. You know. [pause to twist your hair and fix your sweater] It’s just, it’s hard, you know?

ARY: OF COURSE I ******* KNOW. I’m the one who got dumped from a wonderful alternative reality! Now I have to spend forever in your ****** life because you’re too much of a ***** to fix it! DO NOT TALK TO ME ABOUT HARD!

At this point she quite reasonably storms out of the restaurant. You will be paying for her muffin.

Stop scanning now. The lesson’s here.

You cannot do anything about the sunk costs.

You cannot do anything about how hard you’ve worked so far.

You cannot do anything about anything but NOW and AFTER NOW.

You can only think about what happens… from this day forward.

How long has it sucked for?

How long are you willing to let it keep sucking?

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.