Dear future self


If you accept the idea that you’re going to be a different person in 30 years’ time, you should play an active role crafting the person you are going to become. You should be the curator of your future self. You should be the architect of your future self. But what does that mean? 

Spend time with people who are not just your friends and family. Spend time on avocations and professional pursuits that are not just what you do regularly. Expand your horizons, because you’re going to become someone different, you might as well be in charge of deciding who that person is going to be.So, the first piece of advice is to stay curious.

Shankar Vedantam

If you are really honest your views about yourself, what you want is evolving and changing at a very rapid pace.
I love the question: What would your 10 year-old self say about you today?
30 years is an eternity. 30 months is a lifecycle of awareness and awakening.
Try to imagine who you were and what you thought 30 months ago. Not just COVID, but your life, your family, your career, your friends, the world…….
Despite many factors that conspire against us, you are still the one who controls the way you react and respond to your future. You have to take an active role in the curation and the architecture of your future self.
There is a defensive strategy. How do I withstand the great volatility and uncertainty of the world? How do I become more resilient?
But we need to lead with the offensive strategy. Designing your future self. A self that is evolving and growing with the increasing understanding of the self.
Human Centered Design thinking provides a wonderful framework for future self-design.
You are the human at the center of this design!
Start with assertive curiosity. This is a mindset shift. Not just an openness to new ideas. But a seeking. Letting your curiosity lead you on the journey to self-discovery. Not a linear search, not an impatient search, but a meandering, wandering pursuit driven by how your mind and body are reacting to new ideas, interests and insights.
Reframe your self-concept. As your thinking about who you are and what you want shifts, your path, your goals have to be changed. The conflict between money and meaning is usually heightened. “Priorities” become evident that require more than incremental amendments. This future self requires a very different plan.
Ideate future selves. These are new versions of you. Future self models that are attractive and align with who you are and are becoming. These could include different career paths, but these models are driven by your values, by your moral compass, by the human you want to be. The environment, the autonomy, the fulfillment, and the relationships that will nurture you.
Radical sharing and collaboration. This is the test kitchen. You need to serve up these ideas about yourself and your future self to trusted people in your network. To get reactions and feedback on what you are cooking up. And like all great chefs you are all ears. Curiosity muscles are flexed. All feedback helps, but not all feedback is right. Telling people your ideas, your concepts make it real and leads you to commitment—because others will help and remind you. The focus is on what you want not what others expect. Models get revised as needed.
Proactive prototyping. This is the field work where you will apply your theories and models. Got to get out of the intellectual ivory tower and experience the realities of your future self-concepts. This is where more focused “informational interviewing” can be very useful. Meeting with people who model these concepts. Not just the job but the lifestyle. Volunteer positions, even internships, or job shadowing (where you observe the world). Your models will get revised by reality. And you rinse and repeat.
Commitment to action. As the founder of YOU, you have to be the entrepreneur who is failing fast and forward. You have to take steps toward defining your future self. This takes time and effort, you think you don’t have. Yet there is no way to design your future self without making it a new habit that needs to grow into an obsession.
A truly satisfying life requires you to be the best version of yourself. That future self will make a difference. That future self will be happier.
Remember when you chose a college major? Some of you were very clear on what you wanted to do and study. But us “normal students” tried majors on for size and changes our majors an average of 3 times! We added double majors, minors and areas of concentration etc etc. All part of the hedging process of studying things we like and that sounded impressive to someone else.
I have never met a college grad who would not like to re-enroll as an undergrad and take all of the courses they skipped over during this pursuit of a future self that seems incredibly irrelevant now.  
When we were undergrads, curiosity was a value and an engine. We reframed ourselves, collaborated and prototyped.
We were parallel processing. Parallel career planning. Parallel curiosity journeys.
We were studying in different departments, participating in internships, talking to peers fretting, dreaming and debating the merits of multiple paths and options.
I am invoking parallel processing from the computing world as another tool and perspective on your future self.
Parallel processing: a mode of computer operation in which a process is split into parts that execute simultaneously on different processors attached to the same computer.

Not the mediocrity of multi-tasking where you drive ourselves crazy by deceiving ourselves to think we can manage multiple things at the same time.
Parallel career processing is separate and distinct worlds of learning, effort and engagement. Could be moonlighting, deep involvement in avocations, side hustles, and occupassions. The ultimate prototyping.
We get a job and it becomes our focus. One major.
There is great vulnerability in this. You become one dimensional. It limits who you are.

The idea that we can get everything we want and need from one job or career is foolhardy.
Can’t always get meaning where you get your money. Meaningful work is almost oxymoronic.
I have seen this movie over and over.
Real work-life balance is where real life and work get balanced.
Parallel career processing. Not unlike when you had a double or triple major in college. Exploring multiple paths is another way of thinking about your future self development.
The next 30 days, 30 weeks, 30 months, 30 years are going to bring an atmospheric river of change. Not just ominous but opportunistic. Stuff you can not predict or plan for.

This is about a continuous lifestyle of designing your future self, taking care of who you are and what you want.

You need your future self to be great. We need your future self’s greatness.

Sign-up for Career Collaborative #3!

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Session #3
March 31, 2023  8-9:30am PST

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“…the opportunity to meet new people and engage with them in meaningful but nontraditional ways was really valuable. I was energized and felt connected, and also challenged by the questions asked.”  Participant from session #1

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