Having a relationship with your Future Self is vital. I have long been interested in ‘time perspective’, a concept I learned about when studying for my Masters degree in Positive Psychology and I love exploring people’s relationship with time. I always feel curious to know:
- Do you live in the moment?
- Are you hedonistic or fatalistic?
- Do you favour the past (in a negative or a positive way)?
- Or are you biased to the future?
What answers might you give?
In their book, The Time Paradox, John Boyd and Philip Zimbardo explore the concept of developing a ‘balanced time perspective’, allowing you to shift from present to past, or present to future, and take your learnings, reflections and visions with you on whatever decision your current experience is requiring. They also look at the benefits and downfalls of each of the five types of relationships different people have with their favoured time perspective. As ever, the most healthy relationship people can have with their Future Self is a healthy mix of living in the moment and learning from the past, yet looking into the future through a positive lens.
In my work, I have found people do not always have a strong relationship with their Future Self and our Positive Vision Day Programme often helps clients deepen the connection to their Future Self and start making decisions that support arriving at a desired Future Self.
Your Invitation to Your 80th Birthday Party
One of the exercises we do on our Positive Vision Day is the 80th Birthday Visualisation. We ask our clients to follow their timeline into the future where they are celebrating, in great health and happiness, this landmark birthday. They visualise celebrating with people they love and respect, and who love and respect them in return and we ask them to reflect on the intervening decades from the wisdom of their 80 year old self.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to the version of yourself at your current age?
So often that advice is about:
- Being bolder
- Having more fun
- Trusting oneself
- Enjoying life more
- Being kinder to oneself
This exercise is hugely impactful and one that people recall decades later…many clients tell me they get goosebumps when they tell their friends and family about it.
I’m working on an audio of the 80th birthday visualisation, do email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to hear it when its ready.
It seems to me, we often put ourselves in a mental prison, within which people can fall into two large categories:
- Those who need to “loosen up”
- Those who need to “tighten up”
Those that need to loosen up are often perfectionists with a strong inner critic. They can be very hard on themselves.
Whereas those that need to tighten up, are possibly living a little too much in the moment and could benefit from a little more discipline and structure in order to achieve a more positive future.
Which camp would you place yourself in?
I am coming to the end of a great 6-month training as a “Playing Big facilitator” with the impressive Tara Mohr which is based on her Playing Big book . This creates a fascinating model for changing the journey from ‘playing small’, being held back by fear and self-doubt, to ‘playing big’, taking bold action to pursue what you see as your callings.
Tara describes the relationship that you can build with your Future Self or your ‘inner mentor’. She goes on to suggest a visualisation within which you are visiting a version of yourself 20 years into the future and seeing that person for the first time. Ultimately, you are strengthening your relationship with your Future Self.
Dear Future Me…
I often write a note to my Future Self on email. It is a fantastic opportunity to reflect, when it pops up unexpectedly in my inbox as myself from the past. I have just received one from July 2019 via www.futureme.org which really showed me how far I’d come. Writing to yourself in the future is definitely surreal but it can be incredibly rewarding. In this email from 18 months ago, I wrote about all the things I wanted in my life 18 months ago – slowing down, taking more exercise, refreshing the website and brand to celebrate 20 years in business, alongside putting more emphasis on certain areas of my business, e.g. digital, contribution and building up more of the Academy side of things.
I surprised myself with the progress I had made on these things which in 2019 were merely a lament and a wish list. Having a few less distractions with the lockdown helped me achieve these things and more…I’m submitting my manuscript for A Beautiful Way to Coach: Positive Psychology Coaching in Nature at the end of this month. My Future Self will thank me for using lockdown wisely and writing this (long overdue) book. Wish me luck with the digging deep that comes with the editing stage.
These notes from the past to the future allow for a pat on the back, to notice how far we’ve come, and an opportunity to be grateful for the progress made.
Why not give it a try?
Think of it as your first step to really getting to know your Future Self.
Start with seven minutes of journaling a day… why seven? Well, that might have to be a whole other newsletter topic!
Here are 3 prompts that might help…
It’s 2031, and I am feeling so grateful for all I have…
It’s 2041, I am noticing how good it feels with how I am spending my time…
Dear Future Self…what needs my attention this year?
If you want to commit to more journaling and are interested in how to align it to your values and purpose, join our Co-Writing Sessions on Tuesday mornings in May from 7 – 8.30 am.
We will also be starting a Purpose-led Journaling course in June. More details soon…
Please do email me directly if you liked what you read here or are interested in any of the areas I mentioned. email@example.com