The Time Machine Exercise: Part 1
One of my favourite exercises that I have developed and use in my workshops and coaching sessions is one I call The Time Machine Exercise. I use techniques and guided meditations that I have learned throughout my career. I will include an index with books and references that I use at the bottom of this page.
I recommend listening to the official Global Acting Studio Spotify Playlist while reading through and working on this particular exercise. It is also good to have a pen and paper handy to write down any thoughts and ideas that may come up during the work process.
Disclaimer: I am not a certified therapist and do not suggest anyone with a history of deep trauma, addiction or mental health issues to perform this exercise alone. If you do work through the following meditation and feel any discomfort or experience any panic or anxiety, please contact a doctor or psychiatrist.
The Time Machine Exercise - Part 1
Start by slightly opening your mouth and relaxing your shoulders. Breathe in through the nose as deeply as you feel comfortable, releasing your breathe through your open mouth. This type of breathing engages your core and connects your body with your emotions. You may already at this stage begin to feel the emotions welling up inside of you, you may even begin to cry after a few of these breathes. That is fine, just let whatever happens happen and keep your steady rhythm of breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.
If you are working together in a group or with a partner you can read out the guided meditation or you can record the steps and listen to them, as the following parts require you to begin to visualise using your inner eye and you can close your eyes if you wish to do so. You may also want to lie down.
Begin to deepen your breathe and place one hand on your heart, the other on your stomach. Allow any thoughts you have to enter your mind and pass without focusing too much on them.
Now begin to envision a Time Machine in front of you. It is your personal Time Machine and I want you to create it clearly in your minds-eye in as much detail as possible. Perhaps it is big and shiny with lots of blinking lights or is more like a vehicle or vessel.
Use the dials and settings of your Time Machine and enter the date exactly 10 years into the future from today and the coordinates of your home at that time.
Upon your arrival, take a moment to check your breathing, making sure that you are comfortable and breathing deeply, in through the nose and releasing through your slightly open and relaxed mouth. Take in your surroundings and see where you are.
What city and country are you in? Are you in an urban or countryside environment? What time of day is it, morning, afternoon, evening? How is the weather?
Take a stroll down the street and take in the sounds and smells. What do you see as you walk towards your home?
As you reach the building, take a moment and observe your home. Is it a tall apartment building in a central location, or perhaps a large country house with a gated driveway, a small cottage or a cabin in the woods or by a lake? Take in as much detail as you can and if it is a multi-home building or a long pathway to the front door, continue on until you are outside the entrance to your abode.
As you stand face to face with your front door, place your hand into your pocket. In your pocket you feel a set of keys, take them and feel them in your hand. Feel the weight and the shapes. There are a few keys on your key ring, but you know which one opens this door. Take that key and slowly, with purpose, place it into the keyhole.
Place your hand on the handle and as you open the door, step inside slowly. You are met with the smell of home, the feeling of well-being and safety that comes with being home. This is your home.
Standing in the entrance, take in the hallway. Are there pictures hanging on the wall? How are the floors? What furniture is there?
Walk through the hallway and enter the heart of the household, your kitchen. How is the floor in here? What do the countertops look like and the cupboard doors? Look at the detail, the handles, the appliances and the drawers. Open some of them and take a peek inside. What cutlery and utensils do you have in there? What is inside of your pantry? Now look at your refrigerator. How big is it? Open it and look inside. What food do you have? What do you buy for yourself?
As you leave, take a final look around to see if there is anything you may have missed and then move on to the room that you use for social gatherings. This could be your dining room, a living room or perhaps a games room; whichever room you choose to host friends, family and other guests that you invite into your home to spend time with.
Again, take in the details of the room. How is it decorated? Are there windows? And if so, how big are they? Do they have curtains? What is the view like? Can you see tall buildings in a wide cityscape or perhaps sprawling fields and meadows or a beautiful flower garden?
Look at the furniture in your social room. What is the quality like, the colours and materials? Again do you have pictures in the room, if so of what or whom? Do you have art in your home? Are there paintings or sculptures? Do you see any bookcases? What books and things fill the shelves?
How is the furniture arranged? Is it pointing towards a fireplace, the window, a television? Are they arranged in a social way, inviting in for long conversations and relaxation?
Again, before you move on to the next room linger in the doorway and take in the room once more. Notice any details you may have missed and ponder upon what this room says about you and what you want it to communicate to those that you invite into your home.
The next room you are going to visit is the most private and intimate room of all. As you step into your bedroom, what is the first thing you notice? Take it in and just be in this moment for a while. Allow your thoughts to come, pass and continue and take notice of your breathe. Breathing steadily in through the nose and releasing through your relaxed, open mouth.
What colours are present in your bedroom? Are you met with warm tones or clean whites, soft inviting blankets and pillows, a multitude of fabrics and textures? How big is your bed? Is the bed neatly made, or are the sheets and pillows the same way they were when you left them after you woke up?
Walk over to the side of the bed you sleep on and sit on the edge, if you choose you can lie down for a moment. Feel the mattress under the weight of your body and allow yourself to relax and be comfortable in your bed, in your room, in the home you have created for yourself.
When you are ready, you look at your bedside table. How is it organised? What items do you have closest to your bed? These are the things you see first thing every morning and the last you see at night. Perhaps there is a photo of a loved one, your family, a pet or friends. Is there a book? One you are currently reading on a topic you wish to learn more about? Do you have a notebook or planner there, something to write down your ideas, thoughts, goals and dreams?
Head over to your closet next and take notice of the size of it. Is it a stand-alone dresser, a custom built-in wardrobe or maybe a walk in closet?
What clothes are hanging inside? What brands, styles, materials, colours? Look at your shoes and accessories. Do you have a separate place for your watches or jewellery? What do you want to tell the world with the clothes you wear? What do they say about you and how do they make you feel when you wear them? Are your clothes and appearance something you care about, or do you choose to not worry about the external and just wear whatever you find at the time?
Was there a planner, journal or diary by your bed? If there was go and get it, if not find the place where you keep your schedule and organise your appointments. Maybe you have a digital system on your phone or computer, if so open it up.
Look at how you organise and invest your time. What jobs and projects to you have booked? Who do you have plans to spend time with, and what are those plans? Do you have adventures and travel plans blocked out and time to re-energise and refocus? How much time is set aside for exercise and your fitness goals? What workshops and masterclasses and courses are booked in and how much time is allocated to self-improvement such as reading and working on your goals and your craft?
Look at today’s date, there are plans this evening with friends. Before you leave take a few moments to wander around your house and explore, taking in the details. Make your way to the exit and as you leave you lock the door behind you, making sure that your home is safe and sound for when you return.
How do you travel and get around from place to place? Do you own a car perhaps? Go to your garage, what do you have? Maybe you have one or more cars and motorcycles. You take the keys out of your pocket again and pick the key to your favourite car, opening it and taking in the exterior and interior in great detail. Maybe your plans are far away and you take a private plane, helicopter or boat to your destination. Examine the details of these in that case.
When you meet your friends, who are they? Who do you choose to spend your time with? What do they do with their time, how do they dress and what do they speak about? What are their dreams and aspirations? How do they react when you discuss your dreams and goals and activities with them? Where do you meet? What activities do you do? What do you order on the menu? How much does the evening and the meal cost? The bill arrives, you pay for everyone and give a nice tip; how much was the bill? How much did you tip?
Now you check your bank account. How much money do you have? How much is coming in each month/year? How much are you spending and on what? How much are you saving and investing? What are you investing your money into and how do you generate income?
The time has come to return back to your Time Machine. See it clearly in your minds-eye and think about all of the things you have seen and experienced during the visit to your life 10 years in the future. Remember all of the specific details about your home and lifestyle, the people you spend time with, how you make money and what you spend and invest that money on, what you eat and how you feel.
Now set the time and date on your Time Machine to one year earlier. 9 years in the future from your current stage of life.
Here you take in and see what your life looks like leading up to your 10 year life vision. You see how you spend your time and money to get to where you are in 10 years. You see which steps are required of you and what you need to focus on to get to where you want to be.
Now set the timer for another year earlier, 8 years from now.
Keep working your way back a year at a time, analysing the differences and similarities and the steps that you need to make to reach the next years goals.
Now you are 1 year in the future from today. You have seen 10 years into the future and you have seen what you need to do to get there.
Now think back over the last year since you did this exercise. What has happened since you worked through these steps? How have you spent your time? What changes and choices have you made? Where are you living and who do you spend your time with? What do you think about most of the time?
As you set the dial back to today and this present moment, just focus again on your breathe. Deeply inhale through your nose, pushing that breathe down through your entire body, all the way down to your toes. As you exhale through your open mouth start to become aware of your body and surroundings. If your eyes are closed just flutter them open and take in the space around you.
Take a few moments and when you are ready, take your pen and paper and write down in as much detail as you can the visions you had of your future, 10 years from now.
Write it down as if it is a diary, in the present tense and I form for example:
“I live in a big country villa with a large wooden front door and a shiny brass door handle”
Write down as much as you can about the things you saw, experienced and about the people in your life, the projects you work on, the places you visit and how you make your money as well as how you spend your time.
When you have written down your 10 year vision, you can break it down into sections:
Home, Time, Money, Relationships, Health/Fitness etc.
Within these sections break down your biggest goals for each, being as specific as possible.
Then break down your goals into subgoals, working backwards and creating the steps required to work through so as to achieve each goal.
As you keep working your way down the pyramid that you are creating you will end up with a large list of activities that will require your focus to begin working on turning your dreams into reality.
Go through that list marking each activity using ABCDE:
A-tasks are the most important tasks that are of the highest urgency and importance that will by focusing on it make everything else easier or unnecessary.
B-Tasks are activities that would be good to do and will make everything else easier or unnecessary and are the things you should focus on once all of your A-tasks are complete.
C-Tasks are things that would be nice to do and give you pleasure in doing them. These are things that you can reward yourself with once all of your A & B Tasks are completed.
D-Tasks are tasks that you can and must Delegate to others and by doing so will achieve the same or greater result should you attempt to spend your own time and energy on them. A good example for me is cleaning my house – It would take me about 6 hours to clean my whole house to the standard that I want. A professional cleaning service would be able to achieve the same result in half the time and would cost about £20 per hour for a total of £60 every 2 weeks adding up to £120 per month. It is therefore easier and more beneficial for me to invest my time and energy in finding an alternative source of income that would cover the added expense of £120 per month.
E-Tasks are those which you must Eliminate. These are tasks that consume your time and add no extra benefit towards reaching your goals. Items that I have eliminated from my list are: Mobile and Video games, dead surfing on my social media and devices on topics other than that which is dedicated to improving and growing my business and personal brand, television programs that do not add value to my career or knowledge bank, time spent socialising with people that do not add value to me or my life etc.
Transfer all of the A-Task activities to a new list.
Go through that list putting a number from 1-10 next to each activity, with 1 being the most important and having the most impact on reaching the results required for achieving your goals – and 10 being that of the least importance and impact right now.
Transfer all of your activities marked with a number 1 to a new list and repeat the process until you end up with your final One thing, that is your most important task right now and requires 100% of your focus.
This process can be done on a large and small scale so as to have an overview of your long term dream vision, the coming year, each month and week as well as on a daily basis allowing you to manage your time and know for certain that you are on track to achieving your full potential.
"Most people overestimate what they can achieve in 1 year, but grossly underestimate what can be achieved in 10 years." – Bill Gates
"A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step" – Confucius
This meditation can be repeated as often as you like and you can go even further into the future using your Time Machine. I like going to the very end of my life and looking back on all of the things that I have achieved and the impact I have made on the world. Having this knowledge grants me the power in the now to know what I need to do to achieve those “end of life memories”.