(In case you were wondering: no crystal balls were harmed in the making of this blog post.)

I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I correctly predicted the winner of both American Idol and Survivor on Wednesday night. So I guess you could say I’m kind of qualified to give a lesson on predicting the future.

It’s a tricky subject, one you’ll want to approach carefully and with an open mind. Looking into the future is like looking at a blank slate, which will be painted by your actions in the present, and has been influenced by your actions in the past.

The future could refer to a few years from now, tomorrow, or five minutes before Ryan Seacrest demands the lights to be dimmed, and announces the winner of American Idol.  What’s funny about the future – near or far – is how much it reflects the past.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the past and present impact the future. Most people know this, but they don’t really think too much about it. They forget that their hard work now will pay off later, or that their procrastination now won’t. It’s easy to forget these things when we live solely in the present.

As much as we think about our future, and our hopes, dreams, and aspirations, I think there is some sort of universal understanding that we are to live in the present, and not focus on the future. And as an acclaimed (okay, self-acclaimed…) expert fortune teller, I think that is ridiculous.

I know living in the present means living your life today and making each day the best it can be, and I get it – it makes sense, and that’s why it’s been quoted over a million and one times. But those quotes make it seem like thinking about the future – like wanting to think about the future – is an awful act that should be discouraged at all costs.

Which, of course, it is not.

The future belongs to all of us, and our actions now have an enormous impact on what happens. So own up to that! Visualize your dreams; someday, they will be bigger than they ever looked in that crystal ball of yours – or in the days of the futures past.