Sustainable development is about people. It is about creating jobs and improving lives while respecting the environment. Eradicating poverty, preventing conflicts, empowering women and girls, and building responsible governing institutions are critical components.
Sustainable development is about redefining human progress and welfare across the board. It requires a change in the way we measure progress both in the private and public sector. The experience of economies from Costa Rica to Croatia shows that it is possible to combine long life expectancy with low carbon emissions and economic growth.
With a presence in 177 countries and territories, UNDP assists governments, private sector and civil society to build inclusive, prosperous, and greener societies. We advise our partners to consider every policy and investment from an economic, social and environmental perspective. This holistic, integrated approach to decision making is the path towards empowered lives, resilient nations and a sustainable future.
The 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or “Rio+20” is a forum on how to make sustainable development a reality for seven billion people today, and to define the future we want for nine billion by 2050.
To Design Your Future You have to Let go of Your Past
Our future is unwritten and can be designed to our own liking. But often what we do is we let our past determine the design of our future. And as a result, it looks quite similar to our past. We repeat the same mistakes because we bring our baggage from the past into the next chapter of our lives.
Sure we want to learn from the past and from our mistakes. But when that learning turns into so much baggage that the future looks exactly like our past, the value of that learning diminishes. The future is a blank slate that is completely open for invention.
If we’re going to effectively design our future, at some point we have to let go of our past. We have to let go of all the pain, all the agony, all the grief, and all the bullshit that’s in our heads.
1. Forgive the People Who Hurt You
Our forgiving depends solely on us, regardless of how the other party responds or doesn’t. — John Certalic
Bob Goff once said to me in a conversation on the Unmistakable Creative “everybody is doing the best they can with what they have.” When I think about the people who have hurt or betrayed me in some way, I try to remember that.
If you hang on to rage, disappointment, and ill will towards those who have harmed you, it’s effectively letting them control your future. As Zig Ziglar once said “just because somebody screwed up your past, it doesn’t mean you should give them permission to screw up your future.”
There’s a difference between forgiving and forgetting. Pain engraves indelible wounds, that turn into scars, and deeper memories. We won’t ever forget. But forgiveness is our choice and often our pathway to freedom and a brighter future.
3. Write Everything You’re Feeling Down
There’s something about writing things down that is incredibly healing. The work of James Pennebaker even shows that there’s actually research to back this up. When I was going through a really dark period, constantly ruminating on everything that was going wrong, my therapist encouraged me to write it all down. This way you get it out of your head and onto the page.
If we are constantly thinking about the past, we take up mental energy and space that could be used to design our future. When we are thinking about the past, we live in a sort of suspended reality, in which we don’t move forward or backward. Write it down, leave it behind, and let it go.
3. See a Therapist or Counselor
For a while, I thought therapy was only for crazy people until I found myself in the office of a therapist. A therapist can be a guide to finding your way out of the darkness and back into the light. And as you find your way back into the light, you’re more easily able to leave the past behind, and focus on the future. If Brene Brown, whose work is a form of therapy, and who has rocked the stage at TED has no issues seeing a therapist you shouldn’t either.
4. Describe Your New Life
To design your future you have to see the world as malleable, something that can be shaped to your own liking. And you have to see yourself as the kind of person who has the ability to take the world in your head and impose it on the world around you until the world around you looks like the one in your head.
In his collection of essays, The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit, my friend AJ Leon has people do the following exercise:
The greatest opportunity cost you have as a human is not taking your own ideas seriously. Write a 500 word description of what you want your life to look like in 2 years. This will act as your signpost. Then (and here’s the kicker) post it on your blog or email it to someone who will “get it”. It’s hard to go back on a revolution that you’ve already announced.
I return to this exercise at least once a month.
Through simple daily actions, and designing environment conducive to the person you want to become, the future you’ve designed eventually becomes your new present.
Destiny has a way of creating chain reactions in our lives. And sometimes this chain reaction occurs when the shit hits the fan or we hit rock bottom, setting in a motion a series of events that you couldn’t have planned for or predicted. Friends we’ve yet to meet, opportunities we’ve yet to receive, and lovers whose stars have yet to cross with ours. And with each of these events our destiny unfolds into a journey worthy of our heart and soul, a life worthy of living, full contact, in full color. Remember this through fortune and misfortune, joy and grief, good times and bad ones.
Carry it with you. Let it guide you in the direction you’re destined to go, along with the path that you are destined to take. The future is an unpaved road and a destiny that is yours to shape.
Before You Go…
If doing the best work of your life is important to you, you’ll love my free guide: “Optimizing Productivity & Creativity.”
The tactics I’ve packed into this guide allowed me to write over 1 million words in the last 2 years. What could it do for your life’s work? Don’t miss it.