Have you ever imagined yourself 20 years from now? Where will you be? What will you be doing? What will you look like? Who will you be with?
If you consider what you know about yourself today, you can pretty much predict what your life will be like. One question I always like to ask myself in moments of contemplation is "How's that working for me?" That question becomes especially helpful when I'm faced with those persistent complaints - you know, those little irritations that never seem to go away.
I've begun to see even more clearly that things that bug or frustrate me - especially those persistent ones - will never just "go away" until I see that there's a lesson for me in them, and that I have an opportunity to look at them in a completely new way.
Although I admit I'm a lifelong learner, and tend to gravitate toward ideas and conversations that will give me more insight about new ideas, I must also admit that I'd love to get to a point where I can kind of coast and enjoy. If we're honest, don't we all want to get to that point? Our lives shouldn't be about that "constant state of fix," but more about FLOW.
Here's an example of what FLOW might mean, according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
In this diagram A1 represents that place where your skills are equal to your challenges. Consider downhill skiing as an example. If you've never done it before and you're just learning to stand up on your skis, you're in FLOW because your skills are equal to your challenges (rather low on each scale). So if you master the bunny hill by adding challenges and perfecting your skills, you can move up the flow channel. But if you stay on the bunny hill when you've actually perfected your skills beyond those challenges, you might be at A2, which puts you into boredom - your skills are beyond your challenges. So maybe in that bored state, you determine that it's time to take on the black diamond. In that case you might find yourself at A3, where your challenges are beyond your skills, and you end up in anxiety. If you're like me, your goal on the ski slopes would be to find that place where your skills are equal to your challenges, and you can move up the flow channel to A4 where you can enjoy the FLOW.
Take a look at where you are today. Are you in FLOW? Can you identify where you might be if it's not in FLOW? If you're right where you want to be in your life, why change? If it's working, ride the wave. But if you can see opportunities to move into the channel from where you are, venture out. Otherwise you may wake up 5, 10, 20 years from now and wonder why things are still as they were when you were questioning.
"A year from now you may wish you had started today."
A year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years from now you will be older - the time will pass regardless of what you choose to do today. But given the option to create your life as you want it to be, what might you do today? Visit yourself 20 years in the future. Ask yourself how you got there. What was the best lesson Future You learned to get from where you are to where you will be? What was the most memorable experience your Future Self had? What advice would Future You give Present You?
We want to be able to BE in our lives for as long as we can enjoy our station in life. Eventually we will inevitably become bored with our position (according to the flow graph) so there will always be new goals to achieve. The beautiful thing is that the process is the same regardless of the challenges and opportunities. Once we understand that WE are who we've been waiting for and start to see that the only way we're going to be able to change the world is to transform ourselves, we'll start getting more and more traction and the results will be even more rewarding.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world." -Ghandi
There's no time like the present!