About a month ago in early March, while on my commute into the office, I put my headphones in and pressed play on one of Tim Ferriss’s new podcastepisodes with Debbie Millman. I’m a fan of Tim’s podcast and listen to at least one or two of his episodes a month. I’ll admit it though — I quickly bypass the episodes of the guests I don’t recognize — I do this with a lot of podcasts.
However, something about Tim’s show notes describing this as his best episode yet (clever Tim!) and listening to the first five minutes (after the sponsors pitches of course) I was hooked to Debbie’s wisdom — and to be honest, her soothing voice.
Debbie is a creator, designer, and entrepreneur who runs her very own successful podcast called Design Matters. In fact, this podcast has almost 300 episodes and goes back five plus years before podcasts we’re really a “thing.”
Anyway, to get into why I’m writing this let me paraphrase a soundbite that I re-listened 4 times in one sitting (or standing — I may have been on the metro). As Tim and Debbie were talking about half way through the episode, Debbie shared that she teaches a college course on how to go after your dream job and design the life you want.
My ears perked up.
Then she started describing how she teaches her class and developed a curriculum for a full semester.
I turned the sound all the way up and closed out everything else on my phone. This is where she said one of her assignments is to help her senior students design their life. She has them close their eyes (she literally walks you through this in the episode) and envision their life exactly 10 years from now, to the day. She asked them to go into detail and get clear about what their day looks like.
What time do you wake up?
Where do you wake up?
Who do you wake up next to, if anyone?
Where is work? What is work?
What did you eat that morning?
And the list goes on and on until you go to bed that night.
She then has them write. And write. And write some more. Continuing to prompt them to keep thinking bigger.
The outcome: the more detail you provide and the bigger you dream, the greater the chance it will come true.
She has done this activity with a variety of students and professionals over the last ten years and she now is starting to receive texts, emails, and phone calls on how much has come true. She has even done this for herself, tucked the note away, and will look at it ever 12–24 months.
So, I told you I listened to this 4 times, right? I wrote the prompts in my phone for two reasons:
- I needed to do this.
- I wanted to incorporate this into my First Year Leadership class at GW to get the students to dream big while providing as much clarity to their future as possible.
Well, I did what I do best: I procrastinated on my own professional development and growth.
Several weeks later though, as I prompted and delivered this assignment to my class on March 31st, I said I would write one with them.
My business, life, and “busyness” got in the way. What a terrible excuse, right?
Well, today I went through to grade their assignments and was blown away at how serious many of them took the assignment and how detailed their day on April 1, 2027 looked.
Well, enough procrastination, here is mine:
In a weird way today, April 20, 2017, has been a perfect day. I woke up at 6:15am on my own with alarms going off afterwards.
Fully rested, check.
I then put the finishing touches on my slide deck for my upcoming presentation, from my laptop, in bed.
After a shower and shave, I walked Luke for ten minutes. Then, packed up and made the 8:30 shuttle to the metro into my office. After a short visit in the office, I jumped on another metro into the heart of D.C. to deliver a two hour workshop on the pulse of the DC startup scene to 20 delegates from Russia and Ukraine.
This was day one for the 20 delegates who were selected from 300 to attend a two week startup training throughout the U.S. programmed by the Department of Commerce and Trade Association.
Today, I pushed my comfort zone by speaking to an international group, with a translator in the room, and I was able to share my points of view of why D.C. is a great place to bring a business as well as teach them all the resources that have helped me succeed in this area.
Add entrepreneurship and startups to my speaking roster, check.
After leaving the workshop, I headed home and picked up Luke to head to Old Town Alexandria and eat lunch on the waterfront. While Luke admires the food and embraces the attention from other guests, I answer emails and then grade assignments from my class. I then call my parents while I eat lunch to say hello.
At this point it’s 2:30pm.
And then I feel so inspired to write this. And later today, I will meet Courtney at GW’s Women in Business Gala I was invited to. Before I describe my perfect day in ten years, this moment made me realize that all the pressure I put on myself and my subconscious filled with “what if’s” and “what’s next”, the perfect day is already here, right in front of me.
The perfect day: April 20, 2027
I am 43, less than a month away from turning 44. (Wow, that’s scary to type)
It’s 6am on a Tuesday morning and I wake up feeling fully rested living in Old Town Alexandria, VA. Courtney and I have lived here for 13 years and live in a 3 bedroom, 3 level townhouse with a view of the Potomac that we moved into a two years earlier. We rent here still but have a vacation rental in South Carolina.
I roll out of bed and get dressed to meet my personal trainer that helps me with my workouts three times a week to motivate me and keep me in shape.
After a one hour workout, I arrive back home and kiss Courtney to wake her up. I then make a spinach, banana and vanilla protein shake and take our one year old lab outside for a walk. (That was even harder to type)
I bike to my office located in Old Town to catch up on work since Courtney I spent a long weekend in Hilton Head, SC with our friends Kate, Chris, Meredith, Mike, Molly, and Ryan #friendshipcircle.
I check in with my FYN Creative team of three and the client work for our three major organizations we are contracted with. Ten years later, I still continue to consult, train, teach, speak, and execute work on innovative marketing practices for organizations.
Our office is part of one of the new WeWork buildings that opened in Old Town a year ago. Hanging in our office are scattered gifs and animations showcasing work and moments from 2014–2017 from when I just went out on my own. We also have three large frames holding the three books that I wrote as part of The Niche Movement organization. At this point, The Niche Movement is it’s own entity with three global partners that continue to support the current generation’s workforce, teach employment happiness advocacy, and deliver innovative leadership development workshops.
As I sift through contracts, finish proposals, and take meetings I also find time to prepare for my Digital Marketing class that I teach at GW once a week. Alongside all of this work, our team is gearing up for our annual digital storytelling symposium that is capped to the region’s top 50 mover and shakers where we teach and award organizations for best practices in 2027’s digital marketing tactics.
This day fly’s by with a lunch meeting with our team, communicating with clients, hands on execution for the projects at hand, and most all of a sense of thriving, being challenged, and still feeling invincible. I have the ability to design my personal and professional life, I have financial security (i.e. out of debt and more than a year’s worth of savings) both for my family, my business, and stability and growth for the three members working with my business. My business is not to big but well established enough to support the lifestyle for my family and my employees.
After work around 5:30/6pm, Courtney and I catch up from our first day back at work and take our dog for a long walk on the Mt. Vernon trail. We cook and eat dinner listening to the latest jazz playlist streaming through our house and have a class of wine on our deck overlooking the sunset on the Potomac. By 10pm I call it a night while I kiss Courtney goodnight.
Completing this blog post was harder than ever. I had to revisit it at least three times because it was tough to think about the future. Who will still be in my life and who may not. It was difficult to imagine what our world looks like technologically. And last, I realized I don’t think I want my days to look too much different from the way they are already. I strive to work on myself to create a bit more self discipline and accountability, financial security, and continue to fine-tune my narrative to bring more awareness of the impact that I can make with my professional work. I challenge of all you to try this exercise. You don’t have to publish it but I would tuck it away and revisit it every few years and let me know what happens 10 years from now.