Over frothed milk and scones, you and your girlfriends are deep into conversation. It’s your monthly catch-up – a time to let your hair down with those who know you best and dish up all things fabulous and flawed. Between sips and sighs, one of your friends brings up a problem she’s been having at work. She feels stuck. She can’t see out. One after another, everyone jumps in and gives her thoughtful and sound advice.
With a fresh perspective and a smile, your friend leaves the coffee shop. She’s feeling hopeful and empowered. Though as you stow your mug in the dish tray, you can’t help but notice a tinge of melancholy – you’re so good at giving others advice, yet you can’t seem to solve your own issues.
On any given day we can be The Wise Counselor, The Valued Confidant, The Esteemed Business Advisor and The Sensible Life Coach amongst our friends and loved ones. Yet, we often fail to hold any of the above titles in reference to our own lives, due solely to a muddled perspective.
There’s one simple exercise, however, that will allow each of us to climb a ladder, evaluate our current location and smoothly navigate any looming obstacles. It involves putting pen to paper and taking the advice of our future self.
Sounds a little crazy, right? But picture this: Most likely, it’s relatively easy for you to look back on the last few years of life and decide where alternate choices would have been beneficial. In retrospection, you may even have some short and snappy recommendations such as:
You will never be one hundred percent ready – quit that job and open your business!
Forget the little things, you’re letting them get in the way of your big plans.
Stick it out – above all, you love each other.
End that sour relationship… like yesterday.
Much to our dismay, the colloquialism “hindsight is twenty/twenty” generally rings true. Rather than scoffing at the phrase, let’s use it to guide our present self.
Here are some suggestions for doing so:
Instead of stepping outside of your own shoes or stepping into another person’s kicks for a different vantage point, picture yourself leaping several years into the future and advising from the road ahead. Because Future You has a vision. She has clarity. She has big goals she’s recently accomplished and ones she continues to work toward. In short, she knows what’s up.
This figurative scenario can be difficult to sit and ponder. Instead, putting pen to paper will allow you to dip into your distant self – and pull out all of her great advice.
To start, picture yourself five years down the road (or ten, if you prefer). If you have previously set relationship, occupational or personal goals, bring those to the forefront of your mind. You may even choose to list them at the top of the page.
When you’re ready, set a timer for fifteen minutes. Begin by writing down the problem you’re experiencing, in its entirety, and any thoughts or emotions that come up in relation to the issue. Let it all come out. Don’t censor yourself. This will illuminate the corners of your mind and get you in a free writing, flow state – raw, truthful and unfiltered.
Because Future You has a vision. She has clarity. She has big goals she’s recently accomplished and ones she continues to work toward. In short, she knows what’s up.
After listing the scenario, continue right into what Future You would say. From where she’s standing, what advice would she give? Remember, her hindsight is twenty/twenty. She’s focused on the big picture and she has your best interest at heart.
If that buzzer goes off and you’re still writing, keep going. Get all of your fantastic, intelligent and honest advice on paper. When you finish, step away, go for a walk and clear your head. The entry will be waiting – for whenever you are prepared to revisit her suggestions.
As thoughtful, empathetic and intelligent women, it’s easy to give guidance to others. Though let’s not forget there is someone who has our values, goals and best interests in mind, and who is also patiently waiting to help us navigate life’s hurdles. Let us acknowledge her worth and allow her to speak openly.
Then, finally, let’s take her advice and run with it.
What’s one way you could take your own advice right now?
Image via Emily Blake for Darling Issue No. 17