One tool that I have not yet mentioned is the tool that is called “The Birthday Party”. When I use this with a client, I ask them to close their eyes and imagine walking down a path in the country. At the end of the path is a structure and inside that structure there is a birthday party in progress. I ask them to peek in the window where they see all of their friends gathered. There is laughter and joy. Upon further inspection it is clear to see that this is an 80th birthday party. It is not, however, just any 80th birthday party. It is a party for them, the client, and the person celebrating the 80th birthday is their own Future Self. They are asked to get close to the window and to listen to what is being said about them. They may hear family members speak publicly or privately. They may hear work colleagues and friends also speak. Everyone speaks honestly about how they have been affected by the celebrant. Then the client is asked to look around the room. They see evidence of things that have been important to them throughout their life. They will see friends and family, they will see pictures on the walls, they will see trinkets gathered from world travels, they will see favourite foods and they will see the impact they have made in the lives of others. Finally they are asked to knock on the door and get their Future Self to answer. They can have a conversation with their Future Self and ask them any questions they may want answered.
This is a powerful tool. Once it has been used, the client can call upon it any time to help make important life decisions. They may ask them self, “What would my Future Self tell me to do?” This perspective usually helps a decision to be made easily.
This past weekend I had the most incredible experience of being a part of this exact exercise. The only difference was that instead of it being an imaginary event, it was a real life party. My friend Graham turned 80 and he threw the most magnificent party in order that we could all celebrate. Graham is of the belief that we need to celebrate life every chance we can. His 80th birthday was no exception. Graham’s party was in a community center in the country. If anyone had peeked in the window, they would have seen laughter and joy. They would have seen dancing and heard music. They could easily have figured out what values this ‘birthday boy’ has used when living his life.
Graham was the first friend I made when I moved to Alberta 35 years ago. He was also my boss. His daughter, Gillian and my daughter, Kaitlyn were born in the same year. They were the first friend each other had and they remain close friends to this day. Graham has always lived a ‘thoughtful’ life. His life did not happen by accident. He chose carefully the qualities that he wished to model, the kind of person he wanted to be, the activities that gave him joy, the influence that he wanted to have, the family that he wanted to create, the hobbies he wanted to involve himself with and the kind of friend that he was to all of us. It was then, no surprise that this is exactly what his party reflected. It was the perfect marker of this stage of his life. The evening was filled with friends, laughter, memories, Scottish Country Dancing, accordion and bag pipe playing, and good old fashioned ‘peas, pie and pud’.
As I visited and danced and laughed and talked at Graham’s party, I was thinking about the tool of “The Birthday Party”. The party was meant to celebrate Graham, but really it was a gift to all of us who attended. Not only did we receive the gift of the actual evening, we also received the gift of witnessing the tool of “The Birthday Party” in living colour. I, who use the tool of my Future Self regularly, really understood the power of this tool. I realized that if I am lucky, I too, will reach 80 (and hopefully beyond), some day. At that time, there will be some kind of acknowledgement of that milestone. If I hope to hear people say certain things, if I hope that certain people are in attendance, if I hope that I am involved in activities that I love, if I want my walls to be covered in memories from my travels, then now is the time to put that into action.
Each day we have is special. Each day is a gift. Each day we make a choice about what kind of life we are creating.
My challenge for you this week is to ponder the idea of “The Birthday Party”, and as you go about your daily life to ask yourself, “Is this something I would like to celebrate at 80?” If it is not, what change is waiting for you?
Perhaps you have a dream about what you hope your “Birthday Party” will be like. Contact me today to learn more about how we can work together to facilitate the change you want.