A single life lesson that took me the longest time to learn
In 2011 I met a friend who gave me the first life-coaching session in my life. On this session, he taught me one interesting technique that everybody can use as a self-improvement tool.
The technique is very simple. Technically it is a guided meditation during which you have to visualize your past self from 5 years ago and your future self who is 5 years older than you. Afterwards, you have to have a short conversation with them giving the life-lessons to the former and learning them from the latter.
We used to consider all of our past and future selves as some kind of strangers yet all of the “I” that have existed and will ever exist live within the I in the present moment. This technique that I have just described taught me how not to see my past and future selves as abstract images but rather have a relationship with them in which I could learn of what I want to become and what do I have to do today in order to achieve it.
Now my relationship with my past selves transformed into a series of essays to my child that someday will be born and years after will be able to read my thoughts and hopefully avoid repeating my mistakes.
The relationship with my future selves taught me how to envision myself in the future and have a conversation with them. They want me to succeed and even if they don’t give me the exact guidelines on what I have to do at the present moment, they give me a vision of what kind of person I want to become.
Recently I have been asked:
What is that one life-lesson that took you the longest time to realize?
I took some time and replied:
The toughest life lesson was that life is not writing a draft. It’s a fair copy.
It took me years to realize that and to be honest, I am still learning.
When I was young I used to live like there is no tomorrow. Youthful exuberance as it is expressed in multiple ways.
I was burning my days in bad habits, senseless activities, and meetings with people who I considered friends but who in reality dragged me down like an anchor instead of doing what real friends do — elevating me.
I write this as a letter to my unborn child, as a letter to my 13 y.o. self, as a letter to any stranger reader who just happened to find himself reading my essays feeling that it might be relevant to his life. I say:
You are not writing a draft. This is Life itself.
What you experience every moment of here and now defines you as a person you are about to become.
I spent too much time experimenting with things I wanted to try in my life instead of creating a vision of a person I want to become and making a plan for making this vision real.
Design your life strategy.
One of the brightest minds of our planet in the domain of innovation and the best-selling author of “The Innovator’s Dilemma” Clayton Christensen wrote another book that significantly impacted me — “How will you measure your life?” which was published in Russian literally under the title “The Life Strategy”.
The author speaks a lot about the innovation as it is his primary area of expertise. He underlines the importance of the investments in the future as our tomorrow is very uncertain considering vast technological disruption. He also touches topics like building a family and raising children. There are many things that Mr.Christensen pinpoints but the bottom line is clear.
We have to design our lives when we are young.
Write down your Mission.
I understand that when you are 20 you have very little idea of how you will live your life, and you don’t have to.
Make a rough plan for every 5–10 years of your life and iterate on it every year on your Birthday. You will learn a lot about who you want to be and where you want to go and an opportunity to reflect on what was in your head a year ago and how you grew over the year.
It is hard to find the discipline to actually do it and come back to it for improvement but the younger you are, the sooner you start, the more rewarding this practice will be for you.
When I was younger we lived in a slightly different time. There was no such abundance of information. I got my first smartphone when I turned 24. These days kids have an access to the whole knowledge of humanity up to date at the age when I was playing in a sandbox with my friends.
Use the abundance of information and the collection of life experiences to avoid making the same mistakes.
Get wiser and take responsibility for the course of your life sooner than later. It is ok to pass the childhood and adolescence earlier than us. It is only natural that new generation mature faster than we did because you have to become better than us. You have to not only to inherit this planet but also to inherit the problems that your unwise ancestors left to you. We do not make ourselves smarter to prepare for Second Coming, we need to become our own saviors.
I will not get tired repeating it as I am still learning it myself.
Be a master of your ship.
Think your life strategy through.
Don’t burn the days.
Your life is not a draft.
I wish you to stay persistent and elaborate on this topic. I encourage you to do your own research and acquire the knowledge and tools necessary for your life design. Make things happen at your command, be ambitious and never settle for mediocrity.
May the force be with you.
❓ Do you have a question? Ask me! I answer daily on Quora.