I often find myself wanting more clarity or focus in my life. And when I do, I’ve got this method that always seems to work: I’ll go for a walk and have an imaginary conversation with someone who’s really smart or loving. And preferably I’ll speak it out loud.

Really?

Yes, yes, I know I’m weird. You’ll definitely get weird looks if you try this. But it’s remarkably effective.

For example, on my walks, I’ve imagined conversations with mom, dad, Barack Obama, mentors, smart friends and colleagues, etc. I’ll ask for advice and imagine how they’ll respond.

Don’t think it’ll work for you?

Let’s try it. Think about your mom right now, or someone you’ve learned a lot from. What would they say to you if they saw you now?

Go, ahead, I’ll wait.

Works, right?

So it’s basically that concept, out on a walk, talking about the things I need to sort out:

Me: Okay, so I really need focus.

Barack Obama: Look. We must not be so hard on ourselves. You’re already doing great!

Me: It doesn’t feel like it. Here’s why: [I then explain my problems for 10 minutes…]

Barack: The thing is, life is messy. Sometimes you just gotta accept it. What you’re feeling now probably won’t be a problem in a month or two.

Me: That’s fair…

Barack: Just focus on your priorities.

Me: Right, my priorities… uhm, okay… Here: life, family, mission, in that order. So maybe this work thing isn’t so important after all. 🤔 Thanks Obama!

Why I think it works

  • By having to explain what I’m feeling, I understand myself better.
  • By stating what’s obvious, I see new connections.
  • It forces me to look at myself from the outside, and gets me out of my bubble.
  • By talking out loud, my thoughts don’t stray and it feels more real.

Have you ever called a friend, explained your problem, realized the solution, and then thanked them — without them even saying a word? It’s kind of like that, but without the friend.

My favorite person to imagine

I love asking advice from Future Jonatan. (That’s me — in the future!) Now, Future Jonatan is wise, of course, and has already overcome all the problems of life. Conversing with Future Me when going out for walks is great for working through personal problems.

So, that’s that. Hope this approach can help you get more clarity in life, it certainly did for me.

And oh, to look less weird, just put in some AirPods and you’ll be fine.