In this month’s newsletter, we talk about remembering the tragedy of September 11 ten years ago, including both where we were at that exact moment as well as where we were in general at that time in our lives. We use that recollection as a springboard for how we can maneuver the next 10 years, 5 years, or whatever time frame in which we want to set goals.

I was a school principal and had just stepped into my office when a parent called with the news of a plane striking the North Tower. I walked into the library, where a television set was tuned to the breaking news. It was at that moment when a second plane struck the South Tower, thus beginning the challenge of how to explain the unexplainable to children who should not have to deal with this sort of tragedy.

My life has changed since them. I am sure yours has as well. We have taken advantage of opportunities, and perhaps watched other opportunities go by. We may be able to point to the exact phone calls, relationships, emails, books read, or events witnessed that opened doors. We may be able to point to the actions taken that turned opportunities into the realities that shaped the last decade of our lives.

Ten years ago, when you looked into the future, how did it compare with the reality of your life today? What about the next 10…or 5…or 1? Where do you want to be in the future? Opportunity will knock. What can we do today to be ready when it does? Here are three ideas to consider:

Clear the Decks
Take a hard look at your “to-do” list. What tasks take time yet give no return? Get rid of them. Who else could do it? Delegate it. Will it repeat? If so, make it clear, identify the details, and make it part of your repeating task system.

What Are Your Goals? 
It’s easy for day-to-day activities to consume every minute. The weeks and months click away, but nothing seems to change. As you look to the future, how do you want it to be different from the present? If you can articulate it, you have a chance to make it happen.

Connect the Dots
The opportunities which turned into realities over the last decade happened because of small events that worked together. Turning your present goals into future reality will happen in the same way. What knowledge do you need to acquire, relationships do you need to forge, or skills do you need to hone in order to be “ready”? What are the small actions you can take today to make it happen?

Today, we look back 10 years. We look at a national tragedy, but we also look at where we have come since that tragedy. Let’s go a step further and ask ourselves where we want to go in the next 10 years, 5 years, or 12 months. Let’s take the next steps towards turning opportunity into reality.

“You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing the small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction” -Alvin Toffler