It’s Saturday night, and you’re all alone, sitting on the couch, drinking wine by yourself and watching a sappy movie. The phone isn’t ringing. You have no one to talk to, nowhere to go, and nothing to do.
What just came up for you?
If you are like some of my clients, the singles who long to be grounded in partnership and family, it’s likely you thought, “How depressing.”
And then, maybe, “FML.”
If you are like some of my other clients, such as the mother who can hardly believe that there was a time she had a moment to herself, but knows in hazy half-memory that she did once, and fears that she never will again, it’s likely you got a dreamy look on your face and thought, “How divine.”
And then, maybe, “FML.”
The same scenario; radically different interpretations and experiences.
Perspective is everything.
How can you create perspective for yourself, when you so powerfully long for some part of your life to be different?
Today I have a great exercise for you that will help you do just that.
- you’re unhappily single, and feeling lonely as you pine for partnership
- you’re at the beginning of a new career, and longing for the day you’ll be established in a job you love
- you’re financially just squeaking by, and feeling cranky about or even ashamed of living in a studio apartment the size of some of your friends’ bathrooms
- your family or work responsibilities have you so overwhelmed that you can’t help but long for the “someday” it will all calm down
…do this (right now!):
Take out a piece of paper (or create a new document or list on your phone) and at the top write: WHAT I’LL MISS.
Then, list all the things you’ll miss when that longed-for reality of the future comes to pass.
List it all—every little thing you’ll miss; every detail you’ll remember when you look back wistfully and think, “Wow. To think there was a time when I could just…”
Example 1: If you are single and dream of being partnered with three children, think about your life right now, and all the things you love doing that you won’t be able to do when you are partnered with children.
(For many people, the first thing that leaps to mind is the freedom of having so much of their time and space be their own. But there are so many things. Challenge yourself to list as many as possible.)
Example 2: If you are just starting your business and dream of the day you have a full client roster, write down all the good things about your life now that will change when that day comes.
Example 3: If your child is in the throes of toddlerhood (or any trying stage), imagine yourself ten years into the future, and write WHAT I’LL MISS about this time or this phase when it’s over.
An alternate way to do this exercise is to imagine what you would miss if a certain element of your life was gone.
If you’re harried from your work or family life, and you’re tearfully remembering the days you had the luxury of watching a movie by yourself and drinking wine, write a list:
WHAT I WOULD MISS (if I had that life again…if I didn’t have my kids…if I was suddenly “free” of all my work responsibilities…)
Again, this exercise works best if you include the tiniest of details—from the expression on your child’s face whenever she sees a dog, to the mundane little conversations by the copier.
This exercise can create a powerful transformation—from lack to abundance; from jealousy to gratitude; from longing to satisfaction; from futurizing to presence.
I call it the Big Yellow Taxi Factor—you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. You may be in paradise now and not even realize it.
Even if your “parking lot” is something you really long for, you may look back on this paradise wistfully someday.
Home alone drinking wine on a Saturday night? Misery.
Home alone drinking wine on a Saturday night? Paradise.
Here’s the point: whether you know it or not, you are in a golden moment of your life.
You may know where you want to be, and you may love it when you get there.
But the truth is that there are things about this time, right here, right now, that are very, very missable.
You can let yourself get so hypnotized by the idea of Someday that when that Someday finally comes, you end up looking back and thinking, “Wow. I wish I could have appreciated how great my life was. I didn’t know…”
Or, you can give yourself the perspective you need to appreciate this Someday–NOW.
What will you miss about this “not good enough” time in your life? Share your story below.
Photo by PeteSwede