I’ve been completely caught up lately in a WONDERFUL interview series. I have many, many, many things I want to say about this series!
(And it’s ongoing! It runs every day through the month of May. Check it out here, if you’re curious!)
For right now though, I just want to tell about one little exercise that I got via one of the interviews.
Here’s the interview it came from. The discussion of the exercise begins at about minute 26:
What she (Marie Forleo) suggests is that you “lean in” to your future. And you do that by going forward in your mind three years – and writing about your life. That’s the exercise.
It’s supposed to help you to figure out how to move forward if you’re conflicted – and I’m admittedly not particularly conflicted right now. (I’m actually in a really good and interesting place regarding my future goals/plans – as alluded to here.) But it sounded like an interesting thing to do. I’m always looking for ways to gather insights about myself! So, last night I went ahead and tried it out.
First and foremost, it was really fun! You’re supposed to picture yourself and your life three years from this date (so for me, May 10, 2019) and write about it in as much detail as you can muster. She explains it better in the interview than I can in typing, so I’ll leave it at that (watch the video! 🙂 ).
But here’s what was particularly notable for me in the act of doing this exercise: it was thrilling! As in, I got a little thrill doing it. I got excited. I felt empowered. I didn’t expect that!
So then, of course, I had to dig in a little and figure out why it felt like that.
And here’s what I came up with:
When I did the exercise, I really, really tried to not censor myself – just to put everything out there. It’s called a “painted picture” exercise – and I did try really hard to paint a picture of everything I want my life to be in three years. No qualifications, no “being realistic,” no “that’s probably unlikely to happen that fast.” Nothing like that. Just writing down what my idea of a happy and fulfilling life would entail – with a completely open door and no preconceived limitations. And in great detail.
And it was exhilarating! Thrilling, as I said.
More than anything, it felt liberating.
Why would I feel liberated??? That was the big question. A need for liberation means that there’s some kind of constriction going on that you need relief from – and I didn’t realize I was constricted! But that’s a hidden beauty of the exercise, I guess…because I was. Without going into huge amounts of detail and making this post too enormous to plod through, I realized that I’ve been limiting myself – and I honestly didn’t realize I was doing it. That’s a good thing to recognize – and fix!
I had a similar experience a while back – in the summer of 2013, actually – when I went through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I didn’t pick up that book because I thought I was (in Cameron’s terms) “blocked” in any way. I didn’t think I was blocked at all, in fact! But I was – and that became hugely clear as I went through the exercises in the book.
That act of unblocking was pretty powerful! And without having achieved that, I’m certain I never would have embraced photography – which is crazy to think about now. Opening up enough to trust where I was leading myself, following myself even when it didn’t look “sensible” – this was an act of faith and self-empowerment that has been in every way huge for me.
Doing Marie Forleo’s exercise didn’t produce results quite as dramatic as what happened with The Artist’s Way – which makes sense, because I’m honestly not blocked right now. But I think what it did accomplish was to show me that, while I might not be blocked, I still have some old residue of blockage in the dark recesses of my brain. Like the dust bunnies in a corner that you can’t see and that don’t necessarily affect your daily life – except for when they sweep out occasionally and make you sneeze! I don’t need that!! I didn’t realize that was there – and I’m very glad to get it gone!
I think the exercise really did help me eliminate a lot of that residue. Something about writing all of that out, and the detail of it – it made me really feel it. And that was absolutely empowering. It didn’t feel like, “That’s so far away. Sigh.” It felt like, “WOW. I want that. I can do that.” It felt wonderful! It felt, doing the exercise, like I lived in that place for a while – like I visited it. Now I’m back – but what a great trip that was! And I can actually perhaps live there permanently some day in the not-so-distant future??? (Three years into the future, to be exact!)??? Very, very exciting.
I can’t remember if Marie Forleo discusses this in the interview, or if I’ve only read this elsewhere (I’ll have to go back and watch it again) – but there’s an approach to living that says that you should define what and how it is that you want to live, and then behave as if you’re already there. Basically “practice” that life you want while you’re waiting for the universe to catch up and make it reality.
And I think that’s also partly why this exercise was thrilling – that idea of practicing for that future. Because I AM the person I defined in that exercise. And the life I laid out IS possible. Why put it off? I might not be able to have the entire thing yet; I’m not there yet. But I can have more of it than I have currently been allowing myself.
I don’t think I believe in delayed gratification anymore! You only have this one moment really…right? Why not make it everything it can be?
Or at least, don’t constrict it so that it’s less than it might have been. That’s something I need to consciously think about, I’m realizing.
FYI: Beyond the particular exercise I’ve been talking about here, the entire interview is really fun and interesting and worth watching. Both Marie Forleo and Chase Jarvis (the interviewer) have a ton of insightful and inspiring things to say.
And Chase Jarvis’s 30 Days of Genius series (that’s the interview series, running through this month) is really good so far.
Again, you can check it out here if you so desire. And I would urge you to do so! I’m honestly not exaggerating when I say that watching this series has already made an enormous difference to my life. That sounds like the kind of hyperbole I try to avoid using – but in this case, it’s just simple truth. The ability to “listen in” on these conversations about creativity and entrepreneurship and art and life…I feel like I’ve been gifted with a slew of mentors who are speaking directly to my thoughts and needs and questions. It’s AMAZING. I can’t express how much I needed something like this!
Maybe not everybody is as highly in need of rubbing shoulders with likeminded people as I am – or as in need of some sort of mentorship. But I’ve been craving those things for quite a while now (I’ve even written about it before!) – and I’m just floored by the fact that this series has essentially fallen into my lap!
I mean, it’s so well-done, it’s completely free, and it’s plugging all of those gaps for me that I haven’t been able to fill until now. I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend checking it out!!
I have a lot more to say about this series. So, more soon! 🙂