One of the strategies I use as a coach to understand my client’s primary mindset is to ask:
“How’s the relationship with your future self?”
This question is, admittedly, fairly open ended. My client’s reactions are useful information. Do they ask for clarification? And, if they understand the concept of future self, what is their reaction – joy, grief, wistful?
One client said, yes, they do imagine their future self. I asked for a time frame (another treasure-seeking question). She said, “One year out…but that’s what I was saying a year ago.”
Then I asked, “Imagine she sat down with us right now. What is your reaction?”
She started to cry. Then she told me how they didn’t think their future self would want to spend time with them.
I hear some version of this frequently.
Yes, I can imagine a future self…but they are so unlike me as to be another person altogether.
Or, I can’t even conceptualize how I could be different in the future…often because their vision is focused on the past.
Developing a relationship with your Future Self can be a powerful, powerful tool for change.
Most people design a future self who is so two dimensional and aspirational that they can’t even imagine that it’s still them.
But the future you is…well…you!
Let’s make this practical.
- Ask yourself if you can imagine your Future Self. Try timeframes of 10 years, 1 year, 1 month, and 1 day.
- If you can imagine yourself 10 years from now, what are they like? Bring them to life in your mind with as much detail as you can. Who do they spend time with? What work do they do? How do they dress? What is their level of health and fitness?
- Ask if you would like to spend time with them. Why or why not?
- Ask if they would like to spend time with you. Why or why not?
What do you learn when you bring this relationship to life?
Now do the exercise again with how you imagine Future You tomorrow. Note the differences.
Finally, ask yourself what adjustments you’d like to make to your vision.
From personal experience, I realized that my Future Self was modeled on people I admire.
This is great but I discovered that my Future Self and I didn’t have a lot in common.
This idealized Future Me was living in a way that totally didn’t match my current experience, which made Future Self a tool that made me feel more disconnected from my possibility and potential, not less.
I made it a matter of priority to develop a mental image of Future Me that is very, very much me. She’s not “better” than me. She’s even more me than I am!
I feel incredible, unconditional love for Future Me. I practice loving her in thought and action to the best of my ability.
Don’t feel like the workout? Or the salad? Or going to bed when planned?
I’d do these things for the person I love the most, Future Me, same as I care for my children and sweet dog.
When Today Me wants to quit, I ask, “How will I feel about this tomorrow?”
And that can make decision making remarkably effortless and joyful.
I invite you to do this exercise once a month for a year and see what happens.
I use a service called FutureMe.org. On the first day of the month, I write myself a letter for the first day of the next month that gets sent on schedule to my email. Forming this relationship with myself over time is nothing less than transformational.
Try it. Drop me a note to share your results!
P.S. I invite you to fall in love with the “Less Stress, More Fun” podcast. Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes offer smart, fun ideas to reduce stress and boost your sense of playfulness.