Notes from Your Future Self
Recently I had a conversation with myself. It was actually with my short-term future self. In this self-conversation, my short-term future self asked my current self, “what regrets might you have in the short term that you didn’t do during this crisis?”
Turning the tables, imagine just for a moment, that the wisest part of yourself is talking to you from some point out in the near-term future. Maybe it’s six months or a year from now. What wisdom, comfort, regrets, and learnings does your future self impart? And what will you do about it now?
Here are a few that came to me and for you to consider.
You didn’t seize the opportunity to evolve.
As you are sequestered, you have the perfect opportunity to tap into the truest calling within you. You likely excused this away because of the fearful world that surrounded you. But, none the less, you didn’t seize the inward opportunity to reinvent, pivot, or evolve your work, your vocation, your brand, business position, your self.
You didn’t take time off.
It’s likely that, because of all the unknowns and the anxiety in our world that you didn’t take time off. Maybe you told yourself there wasn’t anywhere to go, but you kept working. I suspect when the world begins to slowly (I hope) reboot and reopen, that we’ll be even more called to put our heads down and get deeper into work. The work will always be there. Maybe, quite likely, it’s time to take some time for yourself.
You didn’t create that thing you’ve been yearning to create.
Downtime can be a gift. When our daily tendencies shift, space can open up to create our next big or little thing. There’s likely a dream-project, a back-burner concept, an “I always wanted to” idea that you’ve been putting off or explaining away. Is now the time?
You didn’t take advantage of the closeness with a select few.
Depending on what our home situation is like, you could be surrounded by the people that you are closest to. Too much proximity can smother the best of relationships, but closeness can be like a warm blanket in challenging times. Among the things that we’ve done at my house are game nights and home drawing classes with my family. These are now rituals that bring us closer together.
You didn’t reach out to those you cared about.
Traveling to see loved ones is harder than ever. However, reaching out and spending virtual time with distant friends, family and colleagues has never been easier, thanks to technology. The teary-eyed Bell Telephone commercials from the ’80s and ’90s invited you to “reach out and touch someone.” Answering that invitation has never been easier.
You did your best.
Regardless of what you did or didn’t do during this crisis, know that you did and are doing your best. I find it helpful to notice a pang of regret when it shows up, but I don’t find it helpful to dwell on it. I golf you play the ball where it lies. You cannot change your last shot but only do your best with what’s currently in front of you.
One helpful reflective practice in the workplace is the post-mortem. It’s a process of reflecting on how a project, program or campaign went by celebrating the successes and taking stock of what could have gone better. From this reflection point, we learn, grow, and get better. Regrets are only half the learning.
Here’s the point.
Imagine that it’s a year from today. Future you is thanking current you for a beautiful gift that had deep benefits. What gift did the current you give the future you? I find this future-self consideration helpful. In a strategy session with a client yesterday, I posed a similar question to the CEO. The entire group paused in consideration of this.
Of course, you can’t reverse time, but you can act from a place of deeper wisdom. So, take the next step. Do a turnaround, and ask yourself from your wisest self, your future self: what can you do now that you will celebrate in a year from now?
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