When I get something wrong, I play it out in my head over and over. Every detail. Every moment. I try to redesign and rewire how it all played out as if I can change a second that has already happened.
I do this in every aspect of my life - especially at work. What if I said this, what if I showed them this project, what if… how can I… what can I do… they become the haunting voices of opportunities lost. The echo that lies saying, “I’m not enough.” These feelings chip away at me. They also strangely motivate me. I can make a rule book and prevent this feeling from falling over my life again? I win!
Here’s the catch. Rules are great, but you’ll keep experiencing something until you learn the lesson - not the rule. Sometimes whispering, other times screaming, they catch us in the moments we least expect - 3 days, 3 months, sometimes 3 decades later. That’s why we can’t plan or build a life by writing rules in a rearview mirror.
New rule: I will not continue putting the same effort into “what if” that I put into what’s next for my life. I know I haven’t put the same effort into redesigning tomorrow that I put into replaying yesterday. I’ve wasted energy editing the past, not writing a draft of my better life. Not any more.
This morning, with inspiration from Jamie Varon, I took the time to write about my 55-year-old self. The writing prompt focused on who she is, what she does, where she goes, what she wears… everything tangible and straightforward that would make my life so lovely. Having answers to those questions makes aging feel like unfolding a cherished gift instead of something I have to avoid and dread. I want to be excited about my future as I celebrate 35 in just a few weeks.
“My 55-year-old self is my favorite person, and I can’t wait to meet her,” she said. I can’t wait to meet me either now. Writing the letter was inspiring and filled me with hope for the potential of another 20 years of life.
I hope you’ll take the time to write to your 20+ year future self. Dream about her. Imagine her life. Then live it.
Don’t forget that looking backward is just one angle on a full life. Figure out what needs to change for tomorrow not to look like today. We can’t just wait for our lessons’ voice to scream at us, “enough already.”
A big part of that life? Your career story. I’ve been working on many of them in 1-1 LinkedIn rewrites with people all over the world doing jobs from Beauty Pageant Queen to Economics Professor to Critter Repair.
Yes, I said, “critter.” I thought critter was just southern slang, not a real thing. I was wrong.
Their stories are so fascinating and beautiful, but their profiles? Not so much. I’m working with people from every part of the world, at every level of work, and somehow they’re making the same mistakes. I wrote about those four common mistakes in my blog this week.
I also have the link to buy a session below if you want me to write it for you. I love writing career stories.
But most of all? I can’t wait to hear about your letter and your dream. I can’t wait to see what you do next.
CEO, Three Ears Media