Coming to Terms with Our Future Selves

What kind of relationship would you say you have with your future self? Weird, I know, but think about it. Maybe, like me a few years back, you didn’t. One of our biggest forgets is ourselves. For whatever reason, and this is can great thing, we love to take care of everyone else before we really come to terms with ourself. But, if we REALLY want to change our life, we need to come to terms with that future self. We will burn out eventually taking care of everyone else. Being our best selves, allows us to create the version in others they need.

For me it all started really tracking in painstaking details what I do with my time day in and day out. Yes, I literally made a list with time slots from wake time to sleep time and everything in-between with how I spent waking hours. I found startling pockets of time that were just wasted. Not saying that is bad, because we need “nothing” time to just rest or reset too. I did learn I can spend my time better, there was a lot of opportunity in my days. Once I had an idea what I was using my time on, mostly where things did not feed the best version of me, I was able to design a better self.

Like I did, you will find it hard to make changes once you know how you spend your time. Especially, long lasting positive ones. Even when I looked deep and everything was telling me I needed to make that change, I hesitated or was reluctant to make it. I was going to end up like Wendell in the picture above. A beat up truck that was spent, still cool looking, and had lots of history under the hood. But, not the history I wanted to make. Not the passengers I wanted to take with me in the cab. My purpose was becoming a visual reminder of a time long gone. One that I would never get back, nor be repurposed for a future state of use that I wanted to be used for.

During my research to find better ways and practices to get in touch daily with my future self, I came across Hal Hershfield from the UCLA School of Management while digging around HBR (Harvard Business Review). Hal did a study of participants while under an MRI to picture what their future selves would be like in five years time. Their brain activity had the same outcome as if they were thinking about a complete stranger. Interesting. All this to point out, it’s hard to get in touch with our future selves or to even conjure up who/what we could be in that future setting.

This is the best thing we can do though in terms of being a beginning for self-improvement if we really want something different. Stop drifting and find what a fulfilling life holds for you by taking weekly pauses to think even just a year ahead, a quarter ahead. Vividly call into view what that person could be. Write it down. Digitally or physically, map it out. Work your way backwards. What would it take to get there? What needs to change this week? Today?

I found taking a look at what I was every day and could be, empowered me to make micro commitments to myself that would start to create what I did want for myself. It’s a hard habit to do everyday, but 30 minutes, 15 at the start of your day and 15 at the end, is worth it if by end of that week/month/quarter I’m closer to my ideal self. Let me be clear, no one else can do this work, only you can. People will give you advice, books you read will tell you what to do. But, nothing takes the place of the work you will do.

If we don’t like the you of tomorrow, you can make small changes today that will add up as the week goes on. So on and so on. Do this for about a 30 day challenge. Find fulfilling life you’ve always wanted to have and a future you always thought you end up having, by living it today. Drift no more, or that current will take you to places you don’t want to go.

Thanks for reading. Hope you’re week goes well!

✌🏻 Shawn

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