I recall fondly being a bare-foot boy spending summers at the park with my brothers. For a time, I was a college student immersed in intellectual endeavors. I had a brief stint as a married man focused so intently on my new bride that I didn’t see she was leaving me.
I enjoyed many years as a radio broadcaster and as a teacher. Somewhere along the line I became a husband and father and a nurturer.
These weren’t roles or masks or facades. Each was “who I am.”
I am sad sometimes when I look back on a former “me” and miss that person. I miss that guy who loved music so much that he listened to four or five albums a day, every day. I miss the grad student who could blow a whole day talking political philosophy with my best friend Peter. I miss being a brand new father with the blessing every day of holding a baby girl no bigger than my arm. I miss the newly-married man with a loving bride and no children.
We all carry these former selves around with us. They’re part of who we are.
And the most amazing thing is — Stop to think about this — that these former selves were truly different people from our current selves. They had different motivations, different jobs, different friends, different hobbies, and different problems. They got up at a different time of day, had a different morning routine, went to a different workplace, did different things at work, went to a different church, and so forth. They enjoyed different foods and wore different clothes.
They were motivated by different principles and had different goals. They had a different purpose for living and a different image of themselves.
Please read the last few paragraphs again and think about it. I’ll wait.
It is amazing how different we can be from who we have been. Every single thing about us can be different. The great power of the human mind is such that we can transform completely from one being into another.
For most of us, this journey has taken place with only a few maps to guide us. In most cases we have a single goal at a time. We start out with a single goal. To be graduated from high school. Then college. Get a job. Get a better job. Move up. Get married. Buy house. And so forth.
If you lay out a map on the table you can plot where you are and where you have been. And for most of us, we plot out one more dot for where we want to go next. Take a vacation. Refinance the house. Get ready for Christmas.
You could approach the future at a deeper level and plot a future point for each of three areas in your life:
Wait: It gets better. The most amazing thing about our human capacity is this: You can plot out a completely new you. A new job, a new house, a new life with new hobbies. New friends, new church, new exercise habits, new sex life, new books, new music. New whatever-you-want.
STOP – THINK
This is amazing. After all, when you look back at all the people you’ve been, you have to know that you will be a completely different person ten years from now. You’ll have all those “new” things whether you plan it or not. The future’s coming and there’s nothing you can do about it. The new you is coming too, and you can do something about it.
Because most of us plot out one point at a time, we are bound by where we are now. We see the world from “here” and “now” instead of seeing that anything is possible. We limit our future vision because of our present circumstances. We don’t have to behave this way.
If you read through this superficially, you may consider it interesting. Think about it in more detail and you will see that this is an earth-shaking proposition. It is life-creating. It is true and it has massive ramifications. Think about this perspective until you believe it. It will change your life.
You have the power to become anyone you want. If you are willing to lay out the plan, plot the course, and work at it, you can become the person you want to be.
This is a completely radical viewpoint for most of us. In fact, it’s overwhelming. Where do you begin? You begin with the first major change in your life: Daily Reflection.
Let’s assume you want to make this change. When you begin, you have no end-point. After all, when you begin the process of becoming anything you want, you should consider carefully before you decide. So you have to ask yourself some questions:
What am I doing?
— What is the project?
Why am I doing this?
— What are the benefits?
How did this get started?
— What’s my story? How did I get here?
To get started on the road to Me2, you need two things. First, you need an end point, a “Me2.” You have to come up with a person you want to be. This will start out extremely vague and evolve over time, but you have to start somewhere.
Second, you need to start working on the details. There’s a lot of work ahead. While you’re defining who you want to become, you will need to develop a personal philosophy and some goals and habits. You will need to do a lot of thinking and some praying. There are a million changes ahead. You get to make all the decisions. You’ll need rest. You’ll need exercise. You’ll need time to think and work on this.
You have to dedicate some time every day to work on your new life.
Here’s how you used to map your life:
Current Self Next Self
* ——————————> *
Now you’re going to change your perspective completely:
You have to create that “Me2” end point in your mind. This will take a lot of work.
At the same time you have to define where you are today. You need to evaluate everything about your current life. Some of it is wonderful and you’ll want to keep that. Some things you’ll want to change. Many, many things you’ve never thought about. Many habits just evolved on their own. They need to be evaluated.
Do not be overwhelmed. We’re going to take this one step at a time. Some things will be difficult. Change is never easy. But this change should not be scary. You’re going to grab control of your life for the first time ever. You will be in complete control. You get to make all the decisions.
Take a deep breath. Don’t overwhelm yourself right away. You can do this.
I have a friend who used to work for me. I hired him in 1993 when he was fresh out of college. I introduced him to the Internet before the “World Wide Web” was popularized by Netscape. In those early days you had to teach yourself about the Internet. The only books available were very basic and extremely repetitious.
So I taught myself how to create Internet sites. And Stan would ask me to teach him. He saw the future and wanted to be part of it. So he asked “Teach me, boss. Give me the power.” I would show him some things and tell him how to teach himself, the way I had done it. I kept teaching myself, staying up on the new developments.
I designed systems and built Internet sites. He said “Teach me.” Time passed. I moved on to other things. When the graphical World Wide Web was evolving in 1994 I built award-winning web sites. When I left that company, he took over a major function I had had. He did well but never taught himself the higher level skills.
I went on to do consulting. At one point I worked with a client who needed someone with a specific set of skills. I recommended Stan and he got the job. He learned the job quickly but continued to turn to me and say “Teach me.” Five years after I met him, Stan was still asking me to teach him, as if I could open his head and reveal one or two secrets that keep my technical skills on the cutting edge.
In the meantime, I had spent a fortune on those big, 400-page computer books that cost $60 each. I’d read and read and read. I’d tried to get my hands on the “real world” software and teach myself how to do the things that needed to be done. I’d put in long days, long weeks, and long years teaching myself what I needed to know. For five years I’d worked my tail off to maintain a “cutting edge” level of knowledge.
And after five years Stan had never taken his technical knowledge to a higher level. Instead of digging in and teaching himself, he’d asked me. As if a few bits of information from me would make clear the knowledge he sought in every area of technology. He did well in his job and is still there. But it has always struck me as interesting that he never taught himself what he needed to reach the next level.
When you look back and say “It’s been five years,” you have to believe that he could have found some time in that 60 months to train himself.
Time slips away. We can let it pass or we can work to reach our goals.
It is easy to put things off. It is easy every day to not work toward our goals. It is easy every day to not start the journey to our new selves. It is easy to let five years drift by. And when you look back five years, you’ll see that you are different from the person you used to be. Did you drift through the last five years? Or did you plot a course and move in the direction you wanted to go?