Where do you dwell? In the past, in the now or in the future.
Today we are the result of what we have created in the past, whether that it was last week or last year or just yesterday. What will you create today that will be the gift to your future self?
Recently I was asked to give an online talk about motivation. As soon as I was asked, I wrote a blog on the subject. I was already creating, a few weeks earlier, for my future self. To give myself the best opportunity to succeed, I spent time getting my slides ready, getting my head in gear about how I wanted to be in the session and of course, checking the technology.
I love this topic of creating for our future selves. You may also have heard of techniques such as ‘letters to our younger self’. The purpose of such tools is to align, or in the case of our past, to re-align our thoughts and feelings. It’s a calibration, to smooth out the bumps in the road of our past and future journeys.
Re-aligning the past
Before we look forward, we often look back at our life experiences for inspiration. When looking back, the temptation can be to tell the story about our past over and over in a certain way. When we practice our thoughts in this way, they become beliefs and eventually ‘our truth’. If we want to change our story to one that sounds and feels better, try using compassionate phrases such as ‘I didn’t know then what I know now about subject XYZ and that’s ok’. At it’s starkest, our past has happened, and it doesn’t need to mean anything at all unless we want it to.
When looking forward
Our future is yet to created. When we set out our goals for the future, it’s good to know why we want what we want. Our ‘why’ is what drives and motivates us for the future. When you imagine yourself in 5, 10 or 20 years hence, it’s important to paint a picture in your mind of how you want to be. I was re-reading a classic book ‘Creative Visualisation’ by Shakti Gawain recently to remind myself of the power of our imagination. It’s a 40-year-old book but still it has great tips about how to create in your mind first. When creating for our future self, living to a great age, being vital, having fun, loving our families and friends, take as much time as you want and visualise as much detail as possible.
Looking back from the future.
When you have an inspiring picture of your future self, go ‘there’ in your imagination for a while. The purpose of doing this is to ‘try on’ your future self like a perfect new dress and then to look back to your current self to guide what you want yourself to do now. I say ‘do’. It might be to cultivate a different habit, create a new quality, to learn something new or stop doing something that isn’t going to take you on your precious path to your future self.
In his book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen, he describes a life philosophy based on the model of incremental gains. The habits that divert you a little from your path everyday eventually lead to a major diversion. The ‘good’ habits and rituals that you incorporate now might not pay off immediately but will pay off in the long term and take you to where you want to go. By eating the biscuits that we said we wouldn’t, not such a big deal today. It’s fun, it’s pleasure, I can start again tomorrow. It’s only a biscuit! Or it’s only one more glass of wine. I only missed one gym class that I committed to. It’s OK. But what would our future self say? Only you can ask her!
It’s easy to have examples based on fitness and food but often trickier when it’s relationships, work, or money. What do you want to create today that will take you one step closer to your future self in these areas? Can you hold an image of your future self in your mind while you go about your today? When I got to age 50, I said to myself that I was only halfway there…. (wherever there is). I plan to get to 100 years but maybe the Universe has another plan for me. In the meantime, I see myself coaching, writing, teaching, having fun and love with family and friends, staying healthy and being active and creative in the second ‘half’ of my life.
What will you create today that honours your future self?