Just over five years ago I listened to this podcast. Tim Ferriss interviewed Debbie Millman (Design Matters) about her interesting, twisty-turny road to where she is now, a leading voice on all things Design and Life and Things That Matter. Among other things, in this interview they discussed a process Debbie learnt and now teaches to her own graduate students, where you write out a description of what your life looks like in ten years, or for older participants, five years.
I wrote mine five years ago.
Last Thursday was 17 November 2022. On 17 November 2017 I wrote a description of my regular day in 2022. While I got some of the finer details COMPLETELY wrong, the essence was there.
I didn’t (fore)see the hardships people have faced over the past three years. The sickness, the loss. I didn’t predict the floods, the pandemic or the bushfires. I was aware of the fuckery going on in politics, but I didn’t realise how bad it was going to get.
I most certainly did not expect to go through the Valley of the Shadow of the Terrible Job and the Dark Night of the Soul that followed. I didn’t expect to have a long, deep period of spiritual growth. I should have expected it because when I experience hardship my first port of call is always meditation, journaling, yoga, therapy. My 2017-self did not see the shift, the awakening, the deepening I experienced over those intense years.
It was all very materialistic and surface when I wrote my perfect day five years ago. In 2017 I imagined myself waking up in my gorgeous architectural-gem of a house. This did not happen. BUT I am living in the the right area, just down the road from my ideal spot.
I pictured myself going for a swim – which I did – in the pool, not in the sea because I have slight injury at the moment while I imaged for myself total good health. Then, while my 2017-self pictured me going to my elegant home studio to work on my art range, 2022-me went into the office my husband and I share at our factory and worked all day on our business. Not exactly the stylish office with the green walls and all the art and the bookshelves…
My 2017 self did see me writing, which is 100% spot-on. I also accurately saw my future self planning overseas travel – We head to Bali again on Tuesday and Europe in the Northern Summer. Check.
I correctly saw a happy family, great friends, my wonderful husband.
No, I wasn’t totally correct with everything. There’s no successful print range. There’s no stunning house overlooking the green hills behind Coolangatta. There’s no Netflix series. I don’t have any of these things. Yet. I didn’t see the books I have published, the amazing new friends I have made in the past five years. I didn’t see the awards and prizes I’ve earned for my writing. I didn’t see this ridiculous blog, the new nieces and nephews.
With all this in mind, I sat down on 18 November 2022 to write my perfect day in 2027. I journaled about it first and what I realised was that I just want more of the same. Not necessarily the material stuff. I want a nice, comfy house, with green walls and lots of plants and books and a huge table for all my friends to eat and talk and drink around. I want more of the the happy family, the good health, the awesome friends, the same cheeky husband. I want joy and I want it for everyone. Do I want travel? And more writing success? Absolutely!
I also want everyone to feel they have the agency and ability to aim for and go after what they love, to be kind and to have fun. Our dreams tend not to come looking for us – We have to make a plan. Write it down, there is magic in the written word for sure, but then we take action. Do the work, daily. Write the stories, paint the paintings, go to the places, meet the people, serve the community you wish to be part of.
Because, in the words of Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ”