I hope this edition finds each of you poised to enjoy summer and maybe some much needed time away from at least a few of your normal responsibilities. I have come to realize over the years that it is vitally important to make and take time to break the normal daily schedule as overall life is way too short to not enjoy all that is around you.
Let’s talk a bit about the future. For those of us getting a little long in the tooth, that’s an “old generation” saying, the “future” we once saw may have already become yesterday and we have moved on towards a new “future.” For those younger readers it may seem like the future is so distant that it is just not that important to you right now. For those in the middle you have seen enough to know the past is the past and the future you once saw is not that far away. No matter which group you may fall into we all must remember one fundamental concept: the future is yours.
There are some schools of thought that believe everything is pre-determined and no matter what action you may or may not take, your future is already written and you just have to ride the wave to find what your future is. There are other schools of thought that would subscribe to the theory that everything you do is controlled by you and what your future is will be shaped by the decisions and actions you take.
So without getting overly philosophical or starting a major discussion based on belief systems, let’s just agree that to some level the “master” plan would have to be so complex to have everyone’s future pre-determined that it might not be likely that a pre-determined future is out there for each of us. For those that don’t think their actions today affect some portion of their future consider how one’s future changes after deciding to drive under the influence, causing a wreck and killing another individual. If you thought your future was becoming the President of the United States or even something more close to home like being a firefighter or EMS worker. Do you think being convicted of the actions you decided to make will drastically change the chances of your future being what you thought it would be?
This might sound like a dramatic example and maybe it is, but the truth is that this type of thing happens on a daily basis, perhaps in a slightly different form, and people’s lives and, their futures, are changed. In this example not only are your dreams and aspirations changed, but what about the victim? Do you think when they sat around with their friends talking about their future they said, “well I will be dead next week due to someone else’s decision so I am not really planning for a future?” I have heard very few conversations that went this way and believe me I have heard some pretty “deep” conversations over the years for one reason or another.
So how do we go about having a future? First, I do not advocate you live in a bubble. You have got to go out in the world and forge your path that leads you toward what you see as your future. Will you make “mistakes” along the way? If you don’t make a few mistakes from time to time then you are not human or you are the luckiest person known to humankind and we need to talk about a joint lottery ticket purchase. So now that you are out of the bubble and trudging forward toward the future you had planned the steps you take will either help your future become a reality or will act to change the course of your life and your future.
One of the ways we can have a future would be to simply “take care” of yourself. Proper eating, exercise, rest, relaxation and a few other things in this general category can do a lot for you reaching your future. Education would be another great tool to use to reach your future and the goals you have built in to that future. Now this doesn’t mean a four year college degree is needed for everyone, but it might be important for at least a few folks to have one. Many successful people have reached the future they dreamed of without “formal” education so it would appear there is not a single approach out there that will ensure you realize the future you set for yourself. What we do need to do however is work toward that future you once saw and held up on that pedestal.
If the future you see is retirement with no financial worries, great health and “not a care in the world,” do you think maybe you will need to take some steps to get there? Perhaps some investments, we have talked about that before. Perhaps looking out for your general health, at some point we have all probably heard someone say, “if I had known I would live this long I would have taken better care of myself.” Or perhaps making sure you did the “right” thing as you moved through life so nothing will “bite” you later on.
If the future you see is more short term and you are thinking, I want to be the chief or I want to be the best pump operator or I want to be the best medic or I want to be….you fill in the blank….then you need to plan how you will get there. Once you have decided on a future take the steps to get there. Will you ever go astray on the way to your originally perceived “future,” it is highly likely. That is one of the great things about your future, you get to shape it. You might see things going in one direction and that direction only and then out of nowhere, you get a curve ball that takes you someplace else. Think about those people you have known in your career who saw their future as something completely different than emergency services, but once they were exposed to the field their future changed.
We have talked a bit about your personal future, but what about the future of the emergency services field. You don’t have to look hard to see the articles about the decline of volunteerism in the fire service, or really in almost all things. You should not be surprised when people are not lining up to join a full time fire or EMS department either and how many law enforcement agencies are struggling to get people to even attend their academies? So where is the future of emergency services heading and what can we do?
Each of us can be a proactive supporter of not only ourselves, but of each person we work with or talk to about our profession. We can each take the positive steps to making our professions the ones people want to be involved with. We can each work toward making the changes needed to keep the profession “alive” and not just sit back and enjoy the status quo. The emergency services are what they are today because somewhere in the past someone saw what they believed should happen in the future and took the steps to meet that end. That task falls to each of us and not a select few.
You are the future not only for yourself, but also for the emergency services as a whole. What you envision, what actions you take and what sacrifices you may make will all shape where the future will take us. Get out there and do what you can to keep the future a positive one.
As always, if I can be of any assistance please contact me.