Creating a fantasy ‘you’ can work wonders, finds Charles Handy
Are you sometimes dissatisfied with what you’ve achieved in your life? Certainly I feel like that. OK, I’ve sold millions of books – but so what? Most people have never read any of them.
With that in mind, I decided to write the outline of a new autobiography, describing a life I could have had.
I made myself the heir to a beautiful estate in the west of Ireland and I became an MP and a junior minister in a Lib Dem government.
And I was responsible for shepherding through Parliament a new Bill to reshape the constitution, known as the Handy Bill.
In it, the United Kingdom was redefined as a federal organisation made up of the four independent republics of England, Scotland, Wales and the (United) Ireland, each of which elected four representatives to sit in the House of Lords, renamed the Senate.
They would also automatically be members of the European Parliament, thereby ensuring that the voice of Westminster was always heard in Europe.
In due course, I was knighted for my contribution to politics and adequately rewarded financially for my services as a consultant.
So, I lived well and was widely admired as the Handy Bill passed through Parliament to acclaim by all concerned. I sat back in my chair, well satisfied with my alternative life, which I hoped would be praised by the obituary writers, ignoring my rather pitiful current one.
However, rather like the Wise Men in TS Eliot’s Journey of the Maji, when I return to where I’d come from, I saw it for the first time. Having created an alternative history for myself, I found on reflection that my current life as an independent commentator on the affairs of the world was much more pleasant than my imagined role as someone trying to shape them.
So I commend to you: write your new life – it might make you more satisfied with your present one. It worked for me, it could work for you.
But I’d still like to see the United Kingdom as a federal state.
This is Charles Handy wishing you contentment in your current life.
Published by William Heinemann, Myself and Other More Important Matters by Charles Handy explores the issues and dilemmas – both moral and creative – raised by the turning points of his long and successful life. Buy a copy below: