Hello, you: Get it Magazine, March 2018 column

Having the last word this month, on facing your future self.

~

I recently picked up a copy of Daniel Pink’s excellent read, When, which explores the science of perfect timing. Among its numerous lessons, the book teaches how to get the most out of your morning coffee and breaks during the work day, and the importance of understanding your own chronotype (that is, when you are most energetic and lethargic each day). Interest piqued?

One concept in particular made me think: his discussion about how as a society we tend to overemphasise the importance of endings. Studies show that when we face an ending of some sort (including people falling into an age that has a 9 on the end of it, me this year, eek!), the tendency is to display extreme behaviour like choosing to take unnecessary risks or sabotaging our best relationships. The psychology of it indicates we are innately grasping for a happy ending. And not just happy, but purposeful. The book references films like Pixar’s Up that perfectly capture the essence of this human condition, making us cry while feeling sentimental at the same time, because we’ve connected with something special.

Pink explains that in knowing this about ourselves, we can take steps to make our endings more gratifying. A beautiful example on how to do this, is sending a message to your future self. This might be a letter, vlog, blog or audio recording. Whatever format, put it away for five years.

This proposition made me a little teary. What would I tell my future self?

I think I would start by saying I hope she lets loved ones know they are valued – always (and that she’s continued to do better on that front, as I intend to do from now on). I want her to live without regret, anger and bitterness – good lives are wasted on such things. I do hope she drinks less wine (possibly). There should be dogs, everywhere. And music, plus adventure. I’d say that I hope she’s invested in creativity and travel; to remember that life has taught that things do get better; bring the light, be the light and look for it in others. That’s all served me well so far. I would include a quote seen online from tinybuddha.com, because it’s perfect: ‘Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself’.

This is the abridged version, and I’m not sure what I’ll think of it in 2023, but hopefully I’ll be proud. Perhaps I’ll be moved by the experience and progress made; or by naivety, disappointments not yet known, and challenges overcome or being faced.

When advocates that action like this serves to bridge the gap between past and present, and that is one of the best ways to find substance in our own lives. ‘Living in the moment’ is all the rage (and it’s no secret that I fly the mindfulness flag, it’s important). However, Pink made me think about the feeling of satisfaction that’s possible when ‘me now’ feels close to ‘me’ past and future. This exercise removes the detachment we feel from the future self (whether we are talking five years down the line, or just a couple of weeks), and enables us to make better choices that help her/him when that future arrives.

‘Time’ is complicated in terms of life, love and the dreams we envision, and many of us know a soul or two who have detrimentally gotten lost in it. I hope I can impart to you some timeless insight which I took from Pink’s work; that is, by taking control of our time, and understanding how our past, present and future relate, we can vastly improve our experiences now.

Think I’ll include that wisdom in my note to future me too. But for now, over to you…

How do you see it? Share in the comments below.

Read the March 2018 issue of Get it Magazine here

Presenting at the Adobe Spark Insider’s Summit

Had the chance to present on content and creativity with Adobe using some of their amazing software called Spark.

Have a browse and a sneak peek at my presentation. Got questions? Drop me a line in the comments…

What’s new in Get it Magazine, February

It was late one afternoon last week when a friend and colleague, Erika, popped over to my desk to have a chat. Bright and bubbly, I enjoy her visits, tea in hand and the promise of gossip in her eyes.

I knew she’d had a tough month, predominantly because of the insensitive actions of a boy who did not deserve her affection.

In her usual style, she wandered over to me with a warm smile, perched on my desk and commenced with a monologue about how she saw herself, saying she’d been thinking a lot lately about how by now she should be ‘more successful and further ahead in her life and career’.

I objected, not just on the grounds that I’m her friend, but because of my own burning question: ‘What is the definition of being ahead?’

Predictably the response involved comparisons to what fellow university graduates from the recent class of 201…? are doing, and her reflections on the aforementioned relationship that went cold.

As someone (vaguely) older looking at her situation, I’ve seen Erika secure an excellent job in a respected business where she started working as a temp; she impressed people personally and professionally, put in a lot of hard work and has in a short space of time developed into a PR pro. She learns every day, as we all do, but continues to ride the wave gracefully.

I believe Erika’s story is impressive. For her to tell me she feels disappointed about the success that I can see clearly, well, I had to give her a loving nudge! Aside from the proud job situation, she’d also completed a Master’s degree in the past year, and diligently dealt with personal life challenges.

With age arguably comes wisdom, and I’m going to stick with that logic. I shared with Erika that from my perspective there are two important things you can use to ‘measure your success’: how happy you are, and your ability to cover expenses. Yes, if these elements need to be addressed, then do so! But when all was said and done, Erika admitted she’s happy, and can cover her rent plus purchase wine on the weekend.

‘Success’ at any age is not about comparison to what your friends are doing. Social media poses a problem for many on this front, and if you relate, switch if off for a while. If we did the same thing at the same time as our contemporaries, would we necessarily love life? No.

In my humble view, success is being happy. It is simple. It is your gratitude for life and acceptance of choices.

It is not ‘how far ahead you are’ – whatever that is supposed to mean.

Someone said to me not so long ago that I should be further ahead in my career. While I respect their opinion, that view is narrow. Granted, it is one that is still understood by a wide range of education, media, and corporate types, but it’s not relevant, especially in 2018. I’m incredibly proud of everything I’ve done – the cool, the crazy, the difficult, the brave moves that have meant my ‘career’ path has not been linear. Confidently I declare that it’s been liberating and exciting and varied.

I’ve been happy. And I pay my debts, just like a Lannister (apologies, couldn’t resist).

So, I write to “Erika” here, that aspirations are amazing and reveal passion and drive, things I stand for in life. Go after what lights you up; but turn comparison and an immediate feeling that you want more, into intention. This will bring awesome things to you in good time.

For now live in the moment, embrace it. Think about what life presently holds that you love, nurture that, and you’ll get ahead for sure.

How do you see it? Share the love with us on social media this month.

Read the February 2018 issue of Get it Magazine here