Disclaimer: this is not a post about science fiction and infinite universes with overlapping timelines.
Although on second thought, maybe it is. I'll leave you to make up your mind.
I've had been having a lot of conversations lately that have started with comments such as:
"I'm feeling a bit lost."
"I think I'm at a crossroads."
"Things haven't turned out in the way I thought they would"
These are all inevitable experiences that we will all feel at some point in our lives. Life works out, just not always as you'd planned it.
A coaching exercise that is extremely helpful in situations like this is that of 'odyssey planning', which begins with a challenge:
Describe three different versions of your life/career/relationship that will unfold over the next five years.
Give each plan a title, with a maximum of six words.
Rank each plan on whether you have the resources to fulfil it, how much you like it, how confident you are in it, and whether it is coherent with your general perspectives on life or work.
The interesting thing about odyssey planning is that its orgins can be found in design thinking. Design thinking is a strategy typically used to improve-upon a product or experience, like a vacuum cleaner or supermarket shopping. Yet it applies brilliantly to life in general - as a way of imagining ourselves out of seemingly hopeless situations. Prototyping alternate realities.
Here are some examples of an odyssey plan:
Aside from helping to unblock 'stuck' thinking, some of the positive side-effects of odyssey planning are:
- It removes the assumption that there's a right choice and a wrong choice.
- It fosters creativity
- It unlocks empowerment
- It challenges limiting beliefs
- It allows for signals and signs to be generated, to let us know when one scenario or another is about to unfold
- It allows for continual learning and adjusting if things don't go to plan
The originators of Odyssey Planning (Bill Burnett and Dave Evans of Stanford University) have a worksheet that you can use, available to download on their website. They write: