Are you reading this and wondering when I’m going to drop the hammer about setting career goals for 2008, and how you’re wasting your time with New Year Resolutions etc?
Nope, not this time.
Instead of looking forward, I want you to look backwards. (Pay attention because this is heresy in most coaching circles).
Imagine you’ve just woken up and it’s 5 years ago, Dec 2002.
You’re 5 years younger, but with a twist.
You remember most everything that happened to you in those 5 years; where you lived and worked, the exams you took, the investments gained and lost, the friendships and relationships begun and ended.
You also recall major world and national events, the winners and losers in sports, entertainment and even in the financial markets.
So what would you do?
Would you buy that house, sell that stock, buy gold, take that job, change countries?
It’s tempting to think about changing events apparently under your control, isn’t it?
But what about the consequences of intervening in your known past.
The late Ken Grimwood’s classic time-travel novel, Replay, is an unlikely candidate for a goal setter and career changer.
But it has a lot to say about the meaning of time and our balance within it.
Note: Spoilers below!
The novel’s main character, Jeff Winston, dies suddenly, aged 43, and then finds himself back in 1963, aged 18 but apparently knowing what his future holds.
So he starts to move the furniture of his life around.
Need lots of money? No problem, just bet big on the Kentucky Derby winner and the world baseball series. He moves on to buying Wall Street stocks and investments that effortlessly give him incredible profits.
In fact, within a very short time, pretty much anything_* money can buy is available to Jeff - success on a plate, if you wish.
Then he dies again in 1988, aged 43. Only to find himself back in a replay from 25 years earlier, almost as before.
And so it goes on; his experience and knowledge of each ;replay are cumulative and he finds himself living more and more but understanding less and less about what the point of it all might be.
There’s one incredibly sad yet revealing replay where Jeff finally has the joy of a daughter. Although in a loveless marriage, he’s incredibly wealthy and in the best of health.
But then something happens that separates father and child forever.
Jeff never makes it past 43 each time, and as the replays continue, an incredible and terrifying truth is unfolding - they’re becoming shorter and shorter!
Start and finish are converging, but to what?
Rather than spoil the ending, I’ll leave it for you to read and draw your own conclusions.
Some of the most empowering coaching you’ll ever experience may await within those pages, and you may never quite look at goal setting in the same way again.
Here is a short video appreciation of Ken Grimwood and his work:
I wish you all the very best for 2008 - past, present and future.