Not Your Typical Annual Review
My biggest takeaway from my Annual Review had nothing to do with reflecting on 2020 or making plans for 2021.
After the final session of the workshop I didn’t sit down to finalize my goals. Instead, I scrambled to write down everything I could remember from a visualization exercise.
In a bonus workshop, guest speaker Chloe Good instructed us to close our eyes as she guided us through a visualization with our “future wise self.”
I had zero expectations.
My husband, Sam, and I have plans this Spring to revamp our backyard with a pool, deck, and palm trees. So even though we’re still in the planning stages, when Chloe told us to, “Go to your happy place,” that’s where I went.
I imagined it quickly and clearly:
A perfect summer day. The bluest sky and the greenest grass. Warm shining sun and a light breeze. My son George is running around the yard. There are other kids, too. I hear laughter and talking. The grill is smoking. Sam walks in and out of the house, cooking up something delicious for everyone. I’m in the pool. Taking it all in. I’m happy.
Chloe tells us that our future wise self is walking towards us.
And there she is. My future wise self. She is serene, ethereal, almost floating towards me. She wears a light, loose-fitting, flowing poolside outfit. She looks so cool. She’s got a drink in her hand. It’s in a rocks glass. Something clear with a lime. I know as soon as I see her it’s not alcohol. She doesn’t drink alcohol.
My stomach drops. I wasn’t expecting that. I don’t want to think about that right now. I try not to.
She doesn’t speak. Just smiles. A content smile. She looks like she’s got life figured out.
Now we’re sitting by the pool, next to each other, on the edge of lounge chairs. Sam is in the house. I can’t see the kids but hear a constant hum of laughter and playing.
I sit with my future wise self and feel desperate to know more. To know everything. But she doesn’t say anything. I feel a pit of sadness in my throat because I don’t want her to leave. I can feel tears percolating behind my eyes.
I want her to tell me things but she just sits there. Quiet and all-knowing. Happy and calm. Still.
Chloe tells us to imagine a large TV rising up in the distance. A TV with gold trim.
The huge television with gold trim rises at the far end of the pool.
Chloe lets us know that what plays on the screen is 2021. She asks, “What does it look like?”
It looks chaotic. Busy. I’m running from one thing to the next. I thought being busy was good. Being busy was productive. But as I watch I feel like the chaos is too much. I need to slow down. I need to enjoy the moments instead of trying to cram everything in.
I look at my future wise self. She smiles at me. Holds my hand. I look her in the eyes wanting her to tell me more. Tell me anything. Instead I continue to hear the laughter and the playing of my kids. My three kids. And when I look her in the eyes I see what she is trying to tell me. That none of the other stuff matters. My family is what matters. My husband and kids are everything. Don’t lose sight of that. Don’t get caught up in all the ambitions and endeavors and miss out on the beauty that’s right in my backyard. Literally.
We sit together without saying a word. The TV plays my chaotic life. It’s a stark contrast to the world around me. Quiet, peaceful, husband, kids, sunshine, warmth, bluest sky, greenest grass. Pure bliss.
Tears fall down my face. I’m not sure why I’m emotional but I know this is going to be over soon and I don’t want to say goodbye.
I want to be here - where my future wise self is - but it’s going to take work to get here. It’s going to be hard work to slow down and it’s going to be hard work to stop drinking. I’m not ready to do either. It’s daunting and a little scary to think about the path forward.
Can I just do what I used to do and ignore these feelings? I know I can’t. Will it be a slow transition? Or will I put it off for a while and then do it all at once? Does this mean I have to start meditating again? I’m resistant. I’m resistant to all of it but at the same time I want it so badly.
I say goodbye to my future wise self and ascend the stairs back to reality.
But luckily, my future wise self never left. She’s been with me ever since that powerful visualization and will help guide me towards her. Slowly at first. And then, all at once.