...connect more between your past, present and future self.
In the spirit of trying to sustain a better myself, I was recently inspired to reframe the benefits of regular written reflection. Writing more helps to connect more between your past, present and future self. This slight tweak in articulation of what I've already believed to be a good habit helps me maintain longer streaks of regular reflection. Sharing it here might help someone else.
Why do we ever make knowingly undesirable decisions?
It’s a question that I asked myself in light of a series of mildly regretful moments of annoyances at my past behaviour. This can range from “why didn’t I clear up after eating dinner yesterday?” to “why haven’t I been flossing for the past decade?”, and the more trivial the regret was the more I became fascinated with why the better decision escaped me in the moment. If I was confronted with that disdainful clear-headed version of myself while in the act of knowingly dishonouring my ambitions then I would make the right choice. However, that ‘better-me’ is often so infrequently consulted that it’s all too easy to forget quite how tangible the conviction was to better myself and my life experience.
Most summaries of successful people’s daily routines seem to involve some form of daily meditation. A lot of the people I respect and admire personally also seem to recognise the importance of a daily mental refreshment activity. I think that the main benefit, regardless of precisely how you do it, is the daily reconnection with your longterm values.
When I revisit them, I reaffirm them. Then I’m better able to align my decisions in the present moment to what I already set as objectives in the past. Typically the day’s activities involve a measure of preparation for the future that builds on prior efforts towards those longterm goals.
So, for me, a daily mindfulness / meditation / spiritual refreshing exercise is really about checking in with my personal life coach & shaming nun - past me. You have to bring yourself back to the place that helps to frame your present moment within the wider context of your lifetime values.
That clarity of perspective is the nudge I need to make a better decision. A decision that’s informed by the memories and lessons of an entire lifetime, not just the physical impulses and whims of a few waking hours.
When you’ve successfully learned even more to add to your heap of wisdom, you want to pass on the key to the vault to the next generation - future you. How? Well there’s plenty of modern media, but writing is the most instantly accessible for me so I’m trying to write more.
Writing more in practice
Personally, I have a few different outlets to collect & reconnect my in-the-moment thoughts with my bigger-picture perspectives:
- for our life together - Sarah and I keep a monthly journal using google docs (so we can write in it simultaneously over tea). I'm sure we'll cover that in a future blog post here.
- for the dayjob - I use a spreadsheet to map my daily activities and frustrations against my wider whats-in-it-for-me (WIIFM) career goals. This keeps me focused on embracing the challenges and activities that align with my longer term plans. At the same time it's a healthy reminder of what falls completely outside of those targets and deserves far less attention.
- for life in general - I use Evernote (the basic version) on my laptop with a custom template of writing prompts to capure a balance snapshot of where my head is at.
The challenge, which gets easier with habit, is to take a few moments to read back through (or just pause and remember) your notes so you can mentally restart from where you left off.