It has been almost a year since we began to hear Wuhan’s stories about the rise of a deadly virus. If you remember last November, it likely seems like a lifetime ago. Obviously, we are not out of the woods yet, but with the announcements of three highly effective vaccines in the past week, we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
None of us have ever gone through something like this before, but last year at 5:15 a.m. on December 14th, I shattered my foot. An injury that kept me laid up and isolated for the four months preceding the lockdown. For someone that is used to running 100 miles an hour in several directions at once, the forced confinement came as a shock to my system. I imagine that the confinement of the initial and subsequent lockdowns must have been just as bad for those far more plugged in and engaged than myself. I was fortunate, the downtime came when I could watch my then 8-month-old grow and learn, and most importantly, for this post, it gave me time to think of what parts of my “normal” that I wanted back once I healed. I decided to spend the time required to figure out what I wanted to prioritize when I got back on my feet.
The introspection seemed self-involved and honestly more than a bit contrite, but I wasn’t moving, so what else was I supposed to do? At the end of this period, I had already decided to quit my job and begin a new life journey. In this article, I hope to give you a few easy tasks to avoid the deep fruitless doldrums of self-reflection that I fell into. So here is the best thing that I can recommend to do before the end of this pandemic:
Develop a Mental Picture of Yourself At 75
Our lives are probably most easily understood as an exercise of reverse engineering. We pick a final location, a goal, a dream, and then we break down the steps that will lead us back to today.
Many of us do this in our day to day lives; the problem is that we generally go from the current state and attempt to go forward to that ideal dream state. This is a significant challenge because it results in you getting to a step where you are unaware of the right course of action. It’s not that you won’t run into the same problems working in reverse; however, you are far less likely to let yourself get derailed on the choice of mutual funds in ten years than you are if you can’t figure out how to start next week. Below I have listed several life milestones working back from 75 to focus on. Don’t think about how you got there. Focus on describing what that picture looks and feels like. Once you’ve constructed these mental photographs, let them trigger memories the same way that photographs from the past do.
You are likely aware of the phenomenon that I am writing about. You look at a picture on your phone or Facebook Memory, and immediately all the events that led you to that instant come sharply into focus. We are using this same process to hack your future.
My wife is a great artist. I’ve thought about asking her to draw out my scenarios several times, but the truth is that unlike real photos, they are not static. The main image hasn’t changed, but the context certainly evolves and pivots. And that’s the point of this exercise. We don’t have to be bound to fulfilling an exact image of the future. Rather we need to be loyal to the intent and realize that only by moving towards these goals will the details sharpen in their focus.
It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the best one I’ve got. And as we approach the beginning of the end of this pandemic and we plan for what will undoubtedly be a great “act change” of the entire world. Many of us are looking at our professional lives, our personal relationships, our own health and deciding to make changes for the better. And honestly, what better opportunity to leave all the bull-shit behind.
So as it would seem that all of or at least a large portion of us will be going through some 2nd wave lockdown, I hope that you’ll use the time to start the process of reverse-engineering your life, so you can come out swinging in the bold new world.