A single life lesson that took me the longest time to learn

In 2011 I met a friend who gave me a life-coaching session that changed my life. During that session, I learned a practice that you can also use as a self-improvement tool.

Technically this practice is a guided meditation during which you visualize your past self and your future self in order to gain clarity on both. It’s better to have someone who can guide you through, but it is also possible to do it by yourself.

The practice itself is simple: you lie down, close your eyes, turn on relaxing music of choice, and visualize. Let the music carry you away.

As a first step, you travel back in the past transporting yourself deep into your memories. You summon the image of your past self from 5 years ago and you have a conversation. As you talk about what you want, share all the life lessons, all the knowledge you possess at the present day. Let the younger you ask what he needs to know to avoid the mistakes of the past. Let the present you give life advice and share the wisdom he currently possesses.

After you finished talking to your past self, it is time for the second step of the practice. Transport yourself to your future: meet the person you are destined to become in 5 years. Now, it is the turn of the present you to ask questions. See what kind of answers can you get from your future self. Do this practice with an open mind and you will be able to get about how to coordinate your present life to manifest the desired future.

It is interesting but our floating on the current of time is paradoxical. We used to consider all of our past and future selves as some kind of strangers yet countless “I” that have existed and will exist in the future, live within the current “I” in the present moment.

The practice we have just discussed teaches you how not to perceive your past and future selves as abstract personas but rather have a relationship with them. This relationship will give you a vision of what kind of person you want to become and what you have to do today in order to actualize that person from the current self.

Recently, someone asked me: “What is that one life-lesson that took you the longest time to learn?” I found the answer to this question through the practice we have just discussed. The life lesson that took me the longest time to learn is:

Life is not a draft. It’s a fair copy.

It took me years to realize this. When I was young, I used to live like there is no tomorrow. I was a fool; intemperate youth expressed in a variety of rebellious ways. I was burning my days in self-destruction, meaningless activities, spending time with people whom I considered friends but who, in reality, did nothing but dragged me down like a ballast.

My major dysfunctional mindset in life was to believe that I must be on a path of continuous experimentation in order to find myself whereas what I had to do instead was to create a vision of a person I intend to become and execute on that vision.

This is where the above-mentioned exercise comes in handy. Having a clear vision of who you are “destined” to be helps you to start moving toward the materialization of the best version of yourself. All of your future selves want you to succeed and even though they won’t give you the exact guidelines on what you have to do at the present moment, they will give you a vector to follow: a general direction which you can always adjust along the way.

It is common for teenagers and people in their 20s to have very little idea of how they want to live their life. The truth is, you don’t have to. Make a rough roadmap of your life setting up milestones for every 5–10 years and reiterate it once a year on your birthday.

On that day, make adjustments to the future self that you are creating, meditate about where you are heading, and reflect on the metamorphosis that occurred over the past year. It takes time and effort to actually sit down and write down this plan and it takes discipline to return to your vision on a regular basis but the younger you are and the sooner you start, the closer is the rewarding future.

We, millennials, lived in a different time. We didn’t have such an abundance of information that is currently accessible. I got my first smartphone when I turned 24. These days kids have the whole knowledge of humanity up in their pockets at the age when I was playing in a sandbox with my friends.

So, use it. Use this abundance and learn from the assortment of life experiences to avoid making the same mistakes. Listen to everyone but listen to no one. Design your own strategy of life.

If I make it to the age of 70 in good health, I will consider myself lucky. I optimistically hope that I will remain operational and autonomous, without becoming a burden for my family. I am 30 now. That leaves me with 40 years of useful work. Third of this time I will sleep, which leaves me with 1387 weeks to do something with my life.

This is my piece of sobering math; you have to do yours. The clock is ticking. Do not burn the days. Your life is not a draft.

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Thank you for reading my book “Meditations of the Millennial”.

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