Change is hard. We all know that. If you’re like me, sometimes you feel like your life is a freight train on rails, and that the only way to change the train’s direction is to lay down new tracks. But here’s an exercise I thought of recently, a variation on ones you may have heard before, and I’ve found it to be a powerful tool for creating positive change in your life. It’s also the type of exercise that seems to fit well into the things I usually write.
Imagine today is your 100th birthday. You’re having a party, and you’re surrounded by people who care about you. A grandfather clock in the corner ticks away the passing moments. You’re sitting in a rocking chair looking at a birthday cake. It’s your favorite kind. You don’t see so well these days, but when you squint you can make out all those shining candles quite clearly. You’ve lived a long life, a life that is rich and textured with memories like patches on a quilt. However, you do have a few regrets, things you would change if you could. Perhaps you wish you would have tried a little harder to achieve some personal dream. Become a professional fiction writer? Made a go of being an actor in Hollywood? Taken a stab at being a dancer on Broadway? Maybe you wish you would have seen more of Europe. Or Australia. Maybe it’s something smaller. Did you ever rock climb? Did you ever learn to sail? Or sing? Maybe you wish you would have reached out to people who slipped by you, or mended fences with people who faded into your past. Perhaps you wish you would have gotten closer to a few people in particular, the kindred spirits you met along the way. Your soul would have been richer for it. You know it’s true.
It was a good life, a great life, but you know it could have been better. It could have been a lot better.
So you close your eyes, take as deep a breath as you can manage, and blow out all the candles. You make a wish, and the wish is this: you want to be transported back into the body of whatever age you are right now. You want one more chance to make the most of things. And when you open your eyes, you find that you have been miraculously transported through time. You find yourself sitting in this chair, staring at this computer screen, reading this message. A life of promise and possibilities lies before you, but it’s up to you to make things happen.
Somewhere in the future, the grandfather clock is ticking.
What are you going to do now?