Here’s a very powerful thought experiment that you might like to try sometime.
First, it is necessary to get into that relaxed, meditative state (alpha-theta) that we have spoken about previously. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, think about nothing at all, just concentrate upon your breathing.
Now, in your imagination, travel back in time, say ten years or so, and go find your own self in that period. Tell your past-self that you have come to give him/her some advice. Now, with the benefit of all that hard won, worldly experience, give yourself three short pieces of advice.
When you have done this, allow yourself to return slowly to the present in your imagination and then gradually return, mentally, to the room and finally, open your eyes.
Now take a look at the advice you gave your past-self. It is likely to be something like this:
- Don’t worry too much about the future. It’s all going to be ok.
- Try to treat everyone with respect, even those you don’t like.
- Take care of the family. They are the people who really matter.
I’m not saying the advice will be identical to that above, but that kind of thing is quite typical and it really is the benefit of hindsight talking. You might realise that you worried too much about something that never actually happened, so that’s why you might tell yourself not to worry. Similarly, you might realise that you have not spent enough time with your family, or perhaps you might get to understand that it was not really worth falling out with that person with whom you don’t get along.
Now the advice you gave your past-self is equally good for you right now, going forward in life. Whatever you told your past-self, write it down and try to remember this advice, whatever it turns out to be.
OK, now the second part of the thought experiment involves doing something similar. Again, get yourself into that relaxed, meditative state. Then, get in your time machine and go forward in time for an equal distance, so if you previously went back ten years, you would now go forward ten years.
Find your future-self and tell him/her that you have come with some advice. Now give your future-self three pieces of advice. Take your time with this but, when you are done, again mentally return in time and space to your room and open your eyes as before.
Study the advice. This time, it is likely to contain aspirations and desires. You will be touching upon your own values – those things that are really important to you. Again, I suggest that you write this advice down and keep it.
If you do this exercise well, it will help you to gain a clear understanding of what you think is important in life and a proper perspective on your personal values. This is an excellent exploratory exercise that you can do prior to thinking about constructing your own mission statement.