What will my future-self tell me? How will it describe the year that is ahead of me. What things will it remember, what will it not even mention?
Have I gone into futurology? Can I see the future now? Not quite yet. A few weeks ago, I did a workshop by Khe Hy – The Road to an Epic 2022. Sounds grand, I know. For once I registered and actually attended the workshop live, which on its own could have already been the achievement of the year. I often register and then promise myself to listen to the replay at some day that never happens. The only way is to do it live. At least for me.
Having said that, I was in the middle of a chaos at work, and therefore I did not have much reflection time. I was listening but also doing stuff, and I admit I did not necessarily connect to the workshop at the time. All I could do was to recognise how good it was if only one day I got to reflect on the questions. So I did, 4 weeks later!
The $10k Questions
Khe Hy is all about the $10k questions. The ones that really matter when you come to evaluate your life.
The first one I had to reflect on was “Where do you find flow?”. Whilst I have a vague answer to this questions, it was much different when I put it on paper. So I spent some time describing the moments that make me smile, the activities that make me come alive. There is work that makes me come alive. There are people that make me come alive. There are things I do (like writing or podcasting) that make me smile for no reason at all. So I tried to go through it all. I could see how this was a $10k question.
After that, you go to the extreme. “What are the things you dread?”. Again, you would be surprised about how specific you can get. You may think you dread your job, but in fact, I am fairly certain you will find things that you find flow in, and then things you dread. In my charity, there are things I find flow, and certainly also things I dread. Going to an event with people I have never met, there is another one where there is unnecessary struggle, where I just “grin and bear”.
To go through these moments of reflection, I would really suggest you put pen to paper. I chose to do it on my journal, just because my journal is always with me and I like to use it as a bible of reflection for the year. But do it as you see fit, as long as you write. Don’t just think about it.
And my questions?
There was a moment to also think of what would my own $10k questions be. I had a bit of a hard time thinking of that, because in fact the above 2 are all encompassing and I do feel most gets covered in there. However, I did try and come up with alternative questions to reflect on and that would be worth $10k for me. Share yours in the comments too!
- When do I feel peace?
- What does a good day look like?
- When am I in my zone of genius?
- What gets me smiling in the middle of the day?
- What does happiness look like to me?
- What makes me proud?
I don’t quite know if these are good $10k questions by the way, per Khe’s standards. Perhaps I should ask him. What I do know is that they all would encourage the sort of reflection I don’t often do, and that certainly is a worthy one at the beginning of the year.
Time for the Letter
The reflection done for these questions gets you in the mindset to do the letter. The brief is just that – you are sitting down on the 1st of January 2023. It is a year from today and you are writing a letter talking about your year. What it felt like, what you did, what you accomplished. Funny enough, my critical-self did not spend any time writing about what I did not accomplish. I just went on and on about all the great stuff that happened through the year and even got very specific about timings and people.
Until today, I always struggled with visualization exercises. Imagine yourself a millionaire. Imagine yourself with your perfect body. Imagine your dream home. Your dream holiday. The closer I ever got to vision casting was with a vision board. But even so, it was built on images of very real stuff. In a way, I think I stayed away from defining too much of the details of what I wanted life to look like, perhaps because you can’t guess the future, but probably more realistically because I did not want to fail. There, I said it.
So when I first heard Khe talking about this letter, I did not really think I was going to do it, or that it was going to work for me. But a month into the year and into the workshop, I suddenly had the urge to do it and to have no fear of what would come out. Even if in a year from today it is all wrong.
“Dear Sara. Wow, you can’t believe what 2022 has become. After the tough start we had in January, the tide finally started to turn. I was able to re-start my trips to London twice a month, and despite my fears when it all started, I felt at peace. It was hard to find a routine, but I did it. I found this small place where I stay now, I commute by boat. I always spend time with friends, but I also have a space to connect with myself. Work has improved from the eye popping stress levels.”
This is my start. You can see how detailed it can get but very quickly what you also see is not ambition or big goals, but rather small big things that are important. It is important for me to re-start my “life” commuting to London. It is important for me to find peace. To find a routine. I also found out it was important for me to have a space to connect with myself when travelling that can ground me. But also to spend time with friends.
“I also went back to writing and podcasting. I got a great line up of women for Season 3 and continue to really enjoy the podcast. I finally lost the fear of inviting people. Can’t believe I am almost hitting 50 episodes”
I thought I might stop the podcast. Re-evaluate the role it plays. Preparing interviews and recording is easy for me. Identifying guests and inviting them is not. I struggle with quite a bit of impostor syndrome and honestly, time limitations. So I wondered if I should really venture into another season. And as I wrote my letter from my future self, I realized how important it was for me, how proud I felt, and how well it fitted in my overarching goal of woman empowerment.
“We were able to invest in a small property portfolio and I am glad we finally checked this box. Funny enough, I also got invited to do a few women panels and really enjoyed it. Thought I would be so scared! Seems like I am finally opening a network locally”
All those things that I did not always give that much importance came out. Now, are they important that I will suffer if they don’t happen? Probably not. These are things that make me smile remember? So things that would be quite a nice to have by next year. But it is only by creating this awareness that I think we can then make easier choices day-to-day.
And the important parts
“Now onto the real stuff. I feel better. My energy levels were high by the Summer and I took my first surf lesson! I also picked up regular tennis and, in the long Summer days, me and Hubby B took long bike rides together by the river. I am doing yoga again and whilst I am most days still a bit sleepy in the morning, I no longer feel dreadful. The osteopath really helped with my back and with V back from mat leave I am not back to my weekly physio care!”
You know what happened since I wrote this? I felt better already. Perhaps because I have not had a lot of belief lately in my ability to ever get out of this exhaustion hole. And the chronic pain. I exercised 4 out of 5 days since writing this letter, and I can almost feel the feeling. Not the perfect body, not the abs or the bikini shape. Just how nice it felt to write this paragraph.
An experiment: a look into the future
This was an experiment no doubt. Probably took 2 hours of my life all in al. It was a recommendation that I really gave Khe no credit for when he first recommended. Honestly, I thought it was a bit of magical la la land visualization stuff that would not make sense to me.
But I gave it a go, and I must say I am feeling quite inspired by it. Unlike goals, they are not set milestones and specific activities (I did those light this year). But they continue to be aspirations of the direction I would like my life to take. We all need a north. And one that is focused on the deeper needs we have rather than whichever direction shouts the loudest. Give it a go?