Conversation with future self
You know those articles where they ask celebrities what advice they would give their 20-year-old self? Well, this is the equivalent, only you get all of that great advice and wisdom from yourself in the future – right now. ‘Future Self’ is a great tool and I have been using it with my clients ever since it had a huge impact on me during my training. It’s a way of going forward in time and meeting your older, wiser self, who is living a happier, healthier, more fulfilled life, based on having made the best decisions and most positive changes.
In my personal and professional experience, the most effective way to dramatically change the course of the rest of your life, to feel happier and fulfilled, is to get a grip on your main sabotaging voice and start using your Future Self. Studies in clinical psychology, and more recently in positive psychology, also show that when we feel connected to our Future Self we feel more optimistic, and are more likely to make better decisions and choices in the present. They show it helps bolster our willpower and deal with those pesky saboteurs, as we find it easier to say no to anything that gets
in the way of our goals and dreams. Our Future Self is a personalized representation of our goals, our most ‘cherished self wishes
as one psychologist has put it so beautifully. It brings clarity to our true priorities in life, our motivations and real values. When we are connected to all of these things, we can gain a sense of purpose, a feeling of greater control over our lives, can improve our performance, and increase our happiness
For big life decisions, working with our Future Self is extremely useful, as it cuts through our tendency to agonize and stress over something for days, weeks or even months on end. Last year I landed a great corporate coaching job, which would have meant a lot of work and a good income for me over the next two years.
I went through the whole interview process, I even went away for a weekend of training. As more details started to emerge, I realized that I would actually have to start spending a lot of time away from my daughter, she would have to go and live with her dad more, and I may even have to hire someone to look after her while I was away – something I had resisted since she was born. I went back and forth with this for a while, but then connected with my Future Self (more on what this involves later), and she said: ‘Amelie will only have one childhood, and when you look back on these years what will you be glad about? It certainly won’t be that you were away a lot travelling and working, but it would be that you were there for her during that time. You’ll find other work, and you’ll be there for her – that’s what’s most important.’
Suddenly it all felt very clear, and turning down that work was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My dear friend who did go on and work on the project was away so much it would just have been awful for me and Amelie. Of course, I did get other work that more than made up for the loss of money. At the moment, without having that wise voice to check in with, I know how scary and confusing these decisions can be.
Fear and anxiety
Your Future Self instantly gives you a way to cut through all of the fear, and the sabotaging voices, enabling you to make the best and wisest decisions – at any given moment. When that fear (of not doing the right thing, having enough money, missing out on ‘amazing’ opportunities, etc.) comes along – it can lead to some very short-sighted, poor decision-making.
Conversely making decisions from that wiser, longer-term view, and consequently being more aware of your values, really does lead you to design the life you really want to be living, and means that you will feel happier and more fulfilled in the long run. Doing the Co-Active Training Institute visualization exercise on the following pages and using this tool myself has had a huge effect on my life.
I vividly remember lying on the floor alongside 18 other people who were also training to become coaches (this was a bit of a stretch for me back then – lying down with a load of people I barely knew and doing a visualization which was still a bit hippy-dippy and new to me). I went with it, as I hope you will too. When I came out of that visualization I realized, and it clarified, what I knew deep down: that the path I was on was not the right one for me.
It gave me the clarity and the courage to change course. To meet your Future Self you can ask a trusted friend or supportive person to read out the two-part guided visualizations included on the following pages. You can also go to www.suebelton.com/bookresources for my audio recordings. Whichever method you choose, please do not read it out yourself, as you need to be able to actually do the visualization
‘I am often plagued by self-doubt and anxieties and can find it hard to see a way out of my current set-up. However, since meeting my Future Self, I have found the strength and confidence to carry on fighting and believe that I have options, and it is down to me to make a change. She reminds me that I am a fighter and survivor!’
Listen to my Meet Your Future Self Visualisation Part 1
- What did your Future Self look like?
- How did they seem/feel?
- Where did they live?
- What are the colours, sights, sounds, smells of their home?
- What is it that you most remember about the past 20 years?
- What do you need to know to get yourself from where you are now to where you are going? What would be most helpful?
- What were the answers to any other questions you asked?
- What name do you want to use for them?
In between visualization questions
Lie or sit somewhere comfortable where you know you won’t be interrupted. Revisit your Future Self as best you can, and ask them the following questions:
- How do they spend their spare time?
- Who and what do they most love in their life?
- Do they have a favourite painting/song? (If so put the painting up/play the song every morning.)
Listen to my Meet Your Future Self Visualisation Part 2
- What’s your next step?
- Who do you need to be right now in order to move forwards?
- Write down the answers to any other questions you asked your Future Self
- Looking through their eyes, what did you want to tell yourself?
- What was the place in your body you felt her/his presence most strongly?
- What was the gift?
- Did it have any meaning?
Ways to start using your Future Self
- Next time you have an internal dilemma, ask yourself, ‘What would my Future Self do?’ Connect with them and note down what they say.
- Before going to an important meeting or event, connect with your Future Self and go in as them. How did this feel?
- The next time someone asks you to do something you don’t really want to do but feel torn, consult your Future Self – what do they think?
- The next time you are involved in a conflict with someone or have to deal with a person who always antagonizes you, ask your Future Self how to handle it. Follow the advice and notice what happens. Note down the result.
- Ask your Future Self what work they would be doing.
Need help redesigning your life + career? There are a few ways I can do that
- To get clear on what you do and don’t want in your life + career moving forward, get my book Change Your Life in 5 for free now (just pay P+P). Click here
- Ready to get unstuck in just one hour – and moving forward into the next phase of your life? Book a power-hour Reset Session with me now click here
- If you’re ready to do more in-depth or longer-term work on redesigning your life + career, I’ve opened up a few slots for working with me 1-1. Book your free Discovery Call with me by clicking here and find out how I can help.
- If you are interested in Leadership (including remote leadership) + Executive Coaching for you or your team, find out more about my unique Conscious Leader programme by clicking here
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