This one question will change the way you live your life forever.
What advice would your 87-year old self tell you today?
That question hits us in a very powerful way.
Why is that?
Why isn't our response, she would tell me, keep up the good work, and never think about it again?
Because it taps into parts of us that still need work.
- Things that steal our time and happiness.
- Things that don't matter in the end.
- Things that we are embarrassed to say out loud.
The way that we compare ourselves to strangers and personas on the internet.
How we speak to ourselves when no one can hear.
And what we choose to spend our time on.
I often wonder what our 87-year old selves will think about this period of technological advancements.
Will we look back and be devastated by how many moments we missed looking at a screen?
Gosh this is so heavy, why would we go through the agony of this exercise.
It keeps us on track and it helps minimize regret.
I know what I’m about to ask you to do is extremely emotional. I cried harder during this exercise than I have in years. And it’s worth it.
I want you to get out a pen and paper.
Not your laptop, or notes app on your phone. An old fashioned pen and a piece of paper.
Sit down where you won’t get interrupted for about an hour. This won’t take that long, but you will want to have time to cry it out and freshen up.
Before you start, let’s take some nice centering breaths.
Breathe in for the count of four.
Breathe out for the count of five.
Repeat three to five times.
Okay, next you need to imagine what your life will look like at 87-years old.
How old will your partner be? Your kids? Siblings? etc.
Think about the “life events” that have most likely occurred.
You will have lost both of your parents. What was that like? Were you a caregiver? Are you satisfied with the amount of time you spent with them?
You and your partner have gone through health scares. Imagine what those were like. Cancer? Stroke? Heart concerns? Is your partner still alive?
Your babies are now grown. And they have babies of their own. You’re a grandparent! Were you in the delivery room? What kind of grandparent are you? What kind of traditions do you have with your extended family?
Celebrations. Huge milestones. You’ve retired. Did you chase after your dreams? Are you proud of what you accomplished and the risks you took?
Looks. Your physical beauty has faded. And now you have settled into your 87-year old body. At what point did you accept yourself, flaws and all? Was it in your 40s or did the inner critic survive past that?
Traditions. Imagine how your dinner table has expanded. Your home has filled with giggles from the little cousins playing together. Truly soak in what this will feel like.
Now pick up the pen, and at the top of the paper write, Dear _______.
And allow your 87-year old self to write a letter to present day you, packed with what’s to come, what to change, and what to embrace.
What do you do when you're done?
Once you have written your letter, I want you to keep it in a very safe place. And anytime you hit a patch in your life where you feel like you’re not living your best life or when things are too busy, pull out this letter and read it.
You have now created a guiding star and this will help you stay on track and keep you focused on what is most important.