I don’t remember how I learned this practice 40 years ago or why I started doing it. Somehow I did it the first time when I was in the 9th grade and I’ve been doing the same ever since. I know one thing for sure, it added magic to my life!
The practice is quite simple, yet amazingly powerful. On the day before my birthday, which happens to be the beginning of the year, I sit with a notepad (later becoming a computer, then an iPad) in a quiet place preferably with a view of nature; I imagine that today is the end of the year to come and I ask myself one question: What are the wonderful things that happened to me that made this past year so great?
Then, I write a list of all those wonderful things that I imagine would happen this coming year as if they actually did. I never held back any thoughts no matter how ridiculous they were. When I started long ago my list included unrealistic entries for a young teen living in Damascus, Syria like: I bought a plane, a yacht, a yellow Ferrari, traveled to America, toured Europe. But it also had items like: I passed all my exams with top grades, read 10 new books, made up with these two friends I wasn’t talking to, visited my grandmother at least twice a month, played soccer once a week, prayed daily, focused on a deeper learning of one subject like history or philosophy.
Once I’m done writing my list, I go back and look at the list from last year. The first few times I did this, I was amazed how many items on my list actually happened! Not everything, but some. Enough to make me feel a sense of accomplishment. Then, I look at the other items and I cross the ones which made it to my new list for the coming year. Most importantly, I reflect on the ones that were not accomplished but didn’t make it to my new list. I ask myself if I still desire that item. In many cases, I find that I no longer desire that item so I just simply skip it. In some cases, I realize I still wish something from last year that I forgot in my new list so I copy it to the new list.
Now as I write this post, I reflect on 40 lists and the life I’ve had and I can describe it in one word: magic! The places I’ve been to, the friends I have, the love I gave and got, the learning, the success, the family, the happiness I felt even as I went through the perils of life.
I can’t say for sure what role this annual list played in my accomplished life. But I remember one very thoughtful old friend once telling me: “Ammar, there’s no answer to a question you never asked!”
Maybe my annual list is full of questions waiting to be answered or prayers waiting to be fulfilled or maybe it’s just magic and I should just leave it at that!
To Do Now: Sit in a quiet, comfortable and pleasant place and imagine it’s a year later on the same date and answer this one question: What are the wonderful things that happened to me that made this past year so great? Write things down as they come to your mind, Be creative, bold, wishful as if the universe is just waiting for you to place your order so it can be fulfilled. Repeat this practice again the day before your birthday and make it a habit every year going forward. Enjoy the magic!
Ammar is an American serial social entrepreneur of Syrian origins with businesses and friendships across the world. Ammar has an Engineering degree from University of Central Florida. He’s a alumni of Harvard President’s Program in Leadership. He’s a member of multiple YPO chapters in US, Europe and the Middle East. Currently, he’s serving as YPO regional education officer for Europe.
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