Are you wishing for the Future You? Thoughts about turning wishes into reality.
If all the tales are true, Fairy Godmothers make all your wishes come true.
Except isn’t it also true that often when our wishes come true, they don’t turn out quite as expected?
Here’s a lovely line in Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods where Cinderella’s mother, the wish-come-true-maker in this version, sings the following:
Do you know what you wish?
Are you certain what you wish is what you want?
If you know what you want, then make a wish.
Ask the tree, and you shall have your wish.
We’re all too familiar with Cinderella’s wish. She wants to go to the ball. Depending on the version, the whole “dance with the prince” part is up for grabs. Dancing certainly manifests along with a whole pile of other shenanigans culminating in the “happily ever after” we all know.
Here’s the thing. We all have a bit of Cinderella in us. Yes, even the guys. Our wishes for the future are, usually, a little less fairytale and a tad more professional. But Cinderella has some lessons to remind us when it comes to making your dreams come true. Wishing is a lovely exercise, but manifesting takes action.
- There’s an invitation waiting for you. No one needed to give Cinderella permission to go to the ball. Are you waiting for someone else to provide you with the “yes you can” nod? Maybe even the “you will be successful” approval? You have an invitation. The hard part is getting to the ball.
- You’re probably going to run into at least one or two villains along the way. We all have the odd Step Mother who’s going to try and block your path forward. Not everyone is going to be a fan or an advocate of the Future You. Did Cinderella get mad at the situation? Yes. Do you remember her blaming the Step Mother for her misfortune? No. Often Step Mother’s have something to teach you if you’re listening carefully. Villans in your story are often the gift you need.
- Generosity to your network before you need them always pays off. Remember how the mice and the other farm animals became Cinderella’s coachmen and horses? Imagine the fiasco on her ride to the palace had #teamcinderella not already existed. Cinderella built up all sorts of social capital before she needed help. How? She was consistently generous.
- When your Fairy Godmother shows up, be clear about what it is you want. Cinderella is 100% clear about how she needs help and why. Her Fairy Godmother can then use all her magic and understanding of HOW to get to the ball and some of the obstacles she might face to hatch a plan. If Cinderella had said, “I want to marry the Prince.” I think we can assume there would be a different plan. The clearer you are about who you are, how the other person can participate, and (bonus points) why they might want to, the easier it is for them to help you.
- Even if you look the part and sound the part, you’re still going to need to make bold moves. Cinderella has just shown up at the castle; all dressed up in her sparkly dress and those fabulous shoes. Does she quietly slip into the ballroom and hope the prince will see her? No, she makes a grand entrance down the main staircase. It’s impossible NOT to see her. Take a second and remember she was a scullery maid less than an hour ago, and now she has to message “princess” to all the eyes in the room. Yes, it is 100% terrifying when everyone is looking at you. But it’s when they’re all looking that you must be confident in the Future You.
- Make it easy for people to find you again. She left the shoe on the stairs. In my opinion, leaving the shoe was the move of the night. What did the shoe do? First — it gave the prince a unique memento of a fantastic experience. There was no way he could forget her. Second — it made it easy for the prince to find her the next day. How often have you met someone networking, and their business card is now in a pile. Do you have any idea of how you met them? Glass slippers, who knew the best corporate schwag ever.
- Your story is never linear. Let’s go back to the beginning of this idea. Cinderella’s wish was to go to the ball and boogie with the prince. She did not, initially, want marriage and happily ever after. She never talked about an escape plan from her terrible employment (if you can call it that) situation. In this story, Cinderella gets all the extras in her story. Villans she didn’t anticipate and certainly more than just a twirl around the dance floor. Cinderella kept reacting to each situation, sticking to her values, and ended up in a better place than she initially anticipated. Your story isn’t going to be linear either. It hasn’t been to date. Predictability keeps you where you are, and if you’ve got this far, I’m guessing you might want a new story.
So the only question I have for you now is, “What’s your wish for the Future You?” It’s the best way to start any story.