Do you guys ever get good ideas right before you fall asleep at night? I know there’s a science to it, but I’ll leave further musing about where it comes from to people who know better than me.
Anyway, I started keeping a pad of sticky notes on my bedside table for when this happens, and I sat up and quickly jotted something down the other night that’s really stuck with me. It’s making me think hard about where my own life is headed. And, naturally, I want to share it with you.
It goes like this:
Imagine you’re 80 years old, and you go to bed one night and wake up the next morning at the age you are right now, with the life you have right now. Overnight, some sort of magic happened that turned the clock back, and you have the chance to live your life over again.
If you woke up “young again” tomorrow … would you be happy with the life you have now or disappointed?
HERE’S WHAT I’M THINKING ABOUT MY LIFE NOW
Of course, I’ve never been 80 years old (and really hope I’ll be around long enough to see myself at 80), but I can imagine the very first thing I’d feel at waking up and being in my mid-20s again is pure elation about the gift of youth:
“No more wrinkles! Whoa, my body moves so easily! My hair is blonde again! I’ve got years and years to live my life. In fact, my whole life is still very much in front of me!”
And at a deeper level (below the more surface level thrill of being youthful), I realized that if I were to wake up young again, everything that looks like a challenge right now would look so ridiculously unimportant.
The things I worry about right now would be so easily dealt with by my 80-year-old internal self:
“You don’t have the ‘time’ to exercise a lot? That’s a lie. Go move your body, you’re going to need it.”
“You’re afraid to invest in that thing you know is good for you? Well, buy it. You’ll get where you want to go faster if you prioritize yourself.”
“You can’t shut down the computer because you have ‘too much work’ to do? Whatever. Your life is getting lived … why don’t you go participate in it?”
My 80-year-old self wouldn’t take my 26-year-old self’s B.S., and I’m glad.
HOW DOES YOUR LIFE FEEL WHEN PUT THROUGH THIS EXERCISE?
There’s something about doing this that puts things into perspective and makes it very clear what’s not working (and shows you just how flimsy your excuses are).
Of course, if you’re feeling generally pleased, proud, and satisfied after having “woken up again” into your life, then it’s safe to say you’re doing something right.
But most of the time, there’s at least something (if not quite a few somethings) going on in your life right now that will stand out in an uncomfortable, disappointing kind of way.
And if that’s the case, why is your 80-year-old self not so thrilled about what she (or he!) sees?
Are you playing it safe and refusing to take risks because you’re afraid to “get hurt”?
Are you constantly procrastinating the enjoyment of your life?
Are you just going through the motions, not really un-happy but not quite happy either?
Are you doing (or not doing) certain things because it’s what you think you “should” be doing?
Are you not even sure about what you really desire, in the first place let alone how to actually make things happen?
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH ALL OF YOUR TIME?
If you got back the gift of years of your life, how much would you really care about what anyone else thought or about the challenges you perceive right now?
What risks would actually look real if you woke up tomorrow and had everything to do over?
How much time would you waste, ever again, not taking action?
Not to get too cliché with you, but you don’t need to have magically transformed from old to young overnight to realize that your life is valuable and that your time is precious.
And any excuse for why you “can’t” live how you want right now will fade away when you realize that, while you’re busy making excuses, your life continues to go un-lived.
There’s such joy in waking up and realizing you have a full life left to live and no time to waste. So, what’s it going to take for you to see your life through this lens?
I’d love for you to share in the comments what’s become clear for you after doing this exercise!
Rachel (+ Kristen)
Thank you for this today! In my quick reflection, I heard my 80-year-old self say, “This is when it all changed. This is the year everything changed for the good. Full steam ahead.” Feeling motivated to keep moving. Thank you!
Your 80-year-old self is seriously inspiring – love it! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Sally!
Nice post! I took a different perspective on this exercise — it’s bizarre to say, but I think my 80-year-old self would tell me to slow down, quit judging myself and my progress in life, and just ENJOY. I think that older version of me would smile & say – “Don’t let it pass you by – these ARE the ‘good ol days’!”
This is a great take on it! We’re totally in agreement with your super-wise 80-year-old self — it’s all about being, not doing. Thanks for sharing!