Sunday, April 29, 2007

Looking ahead and looking back: a conversation with your future self

Futureme.orgThere comes a point in a mediation when it's time to ask the hard questions.

It often happens when negotiations are stalled. Although a decent offer is on the table, one thing stands between the parties and settlement. "Principle. It's the principle of the thing," they say, as they weigh hope at trial against certainty at the table.

At that point I may ask people to do something that is very difficult to do.

I ask them to think for a moment about the future--to imagine their future selves and to ask themselves, will that decision still be the right one for me then?

Unfortunately, the laws of physics prevent us from speaking directly to our future selves. But a web site has made it possible for anyone to send messages to the person they will be tomorrow. All you need is an email address that will hopefully still be active on the date of delivery.

Futureme.org allows visitors to send messages that will be delivered electronically to themselves at a designated future date. Visitors to the site can scroll through the public messages at random to read the dispatches from the past that await delivery--some hopeful, some filled with profanity, some bearing advice, others poignant. Here are two:

Because you were working on your thesis and went through that Roman Stoicism phase and tend to forget who said what and where all the ideas come from:

"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present."

Marcus Aurelius

p.s. Finish the book and jog more


. . . . . .


Dear FutureMe,

First off, what the hell are you doing still using gmail?

Second, I'm really surprised that I'm still alive. I'd have expected the stress of working 100 hours a week would have killed me by now. I mean, seriously, what are the odds of a human being actually surviving for 30 years on Ramen noodles and day old pizza?

Oh well, I hope things have turned out well for me.

You can send yourself a message at Futureme.org.

So, what would you say to your future self?