Like many inspirational life experiences, this one was totally unplanned.
I was in New York for a brief visit. After breakfast, I found myself walking uptown rather than heading inside to the hotel gym.
Whoosh…33 blocks and several avenues later, I stood in front of the first building I lived in post-college, more than 40 years ago. Although it’s still a dumpy scary walk-up, a paper sign on the door advertised that the apartments had been newly-renovated. I swear that’s my old window air conditioner circa 1978, however.
I used to stare longingly at the high-rise luxury building across the street. “One day I’ll have a doorman who wears white gloves and be one of the powerful executive women who lives there,” I thought.
Fast forward four decades…That high-rise looks worn and not so glamorous.
I’ve lived in a doorman building, had that corner office, two kids, a spacious home in the burbs, and a bunch of other stuff. But more important than any of that were the experiences along the way.
I continued on the walk and instead of thinking, “Those were the good old days,” I found myself ruminating on the lessons learned, the ways I’ve changed, my timeless qualities, and which brands and buildings are still standing. Some have survived by keeping up with change rather than resisting it. For example, the Apple Store in an old bank building. New York is full of contrasts between old and new.
Longevity is no accident.
And sometimes looking to the past is a great way to re-energize and prepare for the future. Respect where you’ve been, but never lose sight of where you’re going.
Here are 7 easy steps for “Rear View Therapy”*
- Pick a place from years gone by. It works if you’re 20, 50, or 100.
- Bring a smart phone or even a camera. Remember those?
- Although you can go with a friend, taking the journey solo can be especially enjoyable because you can go anywhere that’s meaningful to you.
- As you visit places from your past, think about how you felt when you were there. What gave you joy? Think positive thoughts! Although sometimes you may choose to fully immerse yourself in memories, some things (like Tasti De-Lite, one of the staples of my diet at one point) can remain in the past. I stood in front of my old office building and remembered how I first learned how to write short-form content, a skill I now pass along to interns.
- Take lots of photos (for your private collection, sharing online, or delighting/boring your friends and relatives with your memories).
- Think about the reasons why certain buildings and brands have lasted. How can you apply those lessons to your own life and business?
- When you get back, jot down all the things you’ve learned over the years and — most important — how you can apply that learning to the next phases of your life.
I came back from my walk feeling wiser, remembering the adventure I’ve enjoyed since I walked up the stairs in my first apartment….and looking forward to those that are yet to come!
*Note: I am not a therapist. Your journey may not cure anything, but it will hopefully bring back some smiles, tears, and Instagram-worthy pics.