A penny for your thoughts, Future Me. Tell me all that you know. How did you get to where you are and what are all the mistakes you made along the way? What was the best short-cut of all? What am I doing right now that I should quit? Future Me, are you happy?
If you could talk to yourself in 25 years, what do you think you would learn? I could write something right now in an attempt to prophesy what I think your future-self would have to say but the truth is, how the heck do I know? You’re heading down a path unique to your life or perhaps you’re sharing the journey with a few other people. What about this question; what would their future selves say to you? If you have young children, what would your future 55 year old child say to you? Maybe they would tell you to slow down and spend a little more time with them. Or, maybe they would tell you to stop helicoptering in on every problem they encounter advising you to let them work through the struggle on their own so they can be smarter for having to find their own solutions. Carry this out a few generations, what would your children’s great grandchildren grown to age 55 tell you? Thank you? Sorry?
Make four boxes on a page. Title the upper left box, “Things to Keep Doing”. Inside this box, I want you to write all the things you suppose your future self would tell you that you did right. For now, spend 10 minutes brainstorming. Of course, you should know that no ideas are bad ideas but really take that to heart. My guess is the best ideas will be the ones that come after the eighth minute.
The upper right hand box is for things that you’re not doing or not doing enough but that you believe your future self would tell you to begin doing. Try to get outside of your own mind and look at your life. What are the things that you think could make a bigger impact on your future success, quality of life or that of the people around you if you did them consistently? Again, draw upon your inner creativity to brainstorm a list, no matter how outrageous it might seem.
Now it’s time to get real with yourself. Put on the robe of objectivity and look at yourself in the mirror. In the bottom left quadrant, list your flaws and limitations. What has been the thorn in your side for your entire life? What has caused people to dislike you or keep you at a distance? Using your objective mind, what are they seeing that is a negative attribute about you? This quadrant has hurt in it, so don’t be surprised to shed a tear and be sure to take the time you need to complete this square. Write a letter or two to the people who come to mind. Put the letter in an envelope and address it to yourself. Add postage and send it. When it returns, open the letter and think about it. If it still seems appropriate, mail the letter to the person to whom you wrote it. If you decide not to send it, know that the time you spent writing the letter was incredibly cathartic and understand the big lesson here is that you can administer self-therapy by writing and journaling on a regular basis (maybe something to write in this box?).
In the bottom right box, consider what intimidates you and what conjures up your greatest fears. There could be a wide array of menacing thought patterns going on inside of you. Again, putting things down on paper can be the start to overcoming them.
Of course, what you have done is a simple SWOT analysis of yourself. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. What you do with your analysis is up to you but consider taking 1 concept from each quadrant and write it on a 3 X 5 card. Put it somewhere you will see it regularly and keep it there for 30-days. If you have a smartphone, set an alarm at 4 different times throughout the day every day and customize each alarm with a title that will remind you of the issue. One alarm might be titled, “Remember to Journal, Dan!”. Consider the challenge of doing this for 90-days in 30-day segments. So, every 30-days re-do the SWOT analysis and re-do the reminders.
It is a perplexing world that we live in right now. Millions of people are engaged in the pursuit of happiness for themselves and their families. Things are changing so rapidly that consistency in our efforts can be easily lost. We just get too distracted by what comes next. On the other hand there are many others who are stuck in a stuck in a pattern of doing the same things every single day. I envision both camps in a massive labyrinth or a maze. Some are running themselves to exhaustion, believing there is some place better they can get and know for certain that staying put is not an option. The others believe that peace will either come to them or it will not believe they are unable or are unwilling to pursue it. They’re paralyzed and fear change. If we had the benefit of a higher perspective or could talk to our future self, what we might learn is that there’s truth in both.