If you look at your present and future selves as two different version of your personality, then your likelihood of making better decisions here-and-now will improve.
Why is this?
According to research done by Dr. Daniel Gilbert of Harvard, people are really bad at predicting who they will be in the future.
The reason is simple: it’s far easier for the brain to remember what we call in a conventional way „PAST“, based on the experiences, we have archived in our limbic system, than to imagine what we call „FUTURE“.
Because our brain tends to save brain energy (as a general survival metabolic-functional principle, optimized in the course of millions of evolution), we generally avoid to imagine the future, mainly because it is a cognitive process which consumes more energy than when we assume that „things will pretty much be the same in ten years as they are now„.
We even erroneously believe we will be the same person in ten years as we are right now.
Gilbert and others call this The End of History Illusion, and what it means is this:
We recognize that we’ve gone through some big changes in our past
We see our current selves as the finished and evolved version of ourselves
We assume that in the future, we will mostly be who we are now
If you look back on who you were ten years ago, you will likely see some differences. You were probably in a different situation. You probably had different goals. You likely had different friends and hobbies. Of course, some of what you were doing is probably still the same as ten years ago.
As people get older, they tend to change less over ten year periods of time.
From age 15 to 25, you’re going to see some big change.
From 25 to 35, you’re likely to see some big changes as well.
But from 35 to 45, the rapidity of change tends to slow down for most people.
According to research on the Big 5 Factors of personality, as people age, they tend to become less and less open to new experiences. They stop seeking novelty and change. They stop imagining a bigger future. Their past becomes increasingly prevalent in predicting who they are and will be.
Their life becomes increasingly a routine, done of hundreds of old habits.
Although routines are good for momentum, over time they are very bad for the brain.
The brain thrives on novelty, newness, and challenge. As someone seeking rapid growth and progress in your life, you have to balance these two conflicts. You need routines to save energy while moving forward, but your routines need to continually involve pushing beyond them. Your routine needs to be continually challenging yourself, beyond what you’ve ever done before.
The only way to upgrade your self and FLOWING with personal confidence is by pursuing what you’ve never done before.
As Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, said,
“Personal confidence comes from making progress toward goals that are far bigger than your present capabilities.”
So the process of upgrading yourself is deeply connected with your willingness and capacity of getting into a FLOW state, which will be more likely to be reached, when you „raise the bar“, when you elevate the degree of challenges in your daily activities.
So, with that backdrop, it’s time to start imagining a bigger and better future. It’s time to stop attaching yourself so much to the person you think you are. It’s time to let go of the notion that your future self is going to be the same as your present self.
It’s just not true.
Your future self will be a different person regardless of effort and intention. Change is inevitable. Growth is always optional. Moreover, as Dr. Gilbert explains, „remembering“ is just easier and more comfortable for the brain than „imagining“.
Albert Einstein said that
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
So the question is, how much imagination power are you willing to create in your life?
The rest of this article will provide four powerful strategies for imagining and creating your desired future:
Dream Who You Want To Be In Three Years from Now
Think Which are the next Best Steps to become what You love
Feel, Deeply, What It Would Feel Like To Truly Be That Person
Act, Shifting As Much In Your Current Life To Reflect Your Future Self
Let’s have a look to them closer:
1. Dream Who You Want to Be in Three Years
“Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have. Without having a goal it’s difficult to score.”
– Paul Arden
There is a growing body of research in psychology examining the difference between our current and our future selves.
What the research shows is that:
Your current and future selves are indeed two different personalities
Viewing your future self as a fundamentally different person allows you to think about what they would want
This is where DREAMING comes in.
What is your vision for your future?
How detailed is your vision?
Without having a vision, you will have little meaning in your life. According to the late psychiatrist, Gordon Livingston M.D., humans need three things to be happy:
Something to do
Someone to love
Something to look forward to
If you don’t have something to look forward to, for which are you exerting conscious and daily effort to create, then you cannot have happiness. And the Dopamine-release will reward you overtime when you will achieve something which is perceived as beneficial for your survival fitness. For example, in my case some years ago I dreamt to become a public speaker and today I feel blessed for the chance I got to give a TEDx talk on Feb. 22nd in few weeks.
When you DREAM a new vision for your life, you immediately begin to see your whole life in light of that new vision. It becomes the context of your life. Changing the context changes the meaning and possibility.
So, let’s get clear on your life vision. According to the business author and expert Cameron Herold, you should have both a personal and professional Vivid Vision.
In this vivid vision, you should not focus on how you’re going to achieve the vision. You simply want to get very, very clear on what you want three years from now.
So, pull out your calendar and put a big X three years in the future.
What does your life look like?
What do you look like?
What does your environment look like?
Who are the main people in your life, and on your team?
What types of clients or people are you working with?
What is the overall experience you’re having?
What does your typical day look like?
How much money are you making?
What is important to you?
Where is your focus?
Remember, your job right now is not to determine how any of this stuff is going to happen. Your first job is simply to get clear on your vision. The more clear your vision is, the more obvious and easy will be the execution.
According to Herold, you should ideally have a five-page vivid vision written down which you begin sharing with EVERYONE!
Why share with everyone?
A few reasons:
When you share it with others, they will begin holding you accountable to it
Hearing yourself say it will cause you to believe it more - Your thoughts should become words, words should become actions, actions habits, and habits your personality and destiny.
There are mixed science and opinions as to sharing your goals publicly. The question is: if you’re 100% committed to your goals, then why wouldn’t you?
People talk about how publicly sharing goals decreases motivation because you feel like you’ve already achieved something by simply saying it. This argument is a strawman for one important reason: if you’re trying to figure out how motivated you are toward a goal, you probably aren’t committed to it.
Once you get committed to something:
Then you stop worrying about what people think about you
You begin orienting your entire life and environment to create that thing
You stop over-attaching to failures along the way - In other words, you embrace imperfectionism.
So, create your five-page document.
Where will you be in three years from now?
Then, begin sharing it with EVERYONE. Watch what happens. You’ll begin to repel the wrong people from your life and attract the right people.
The question is: are you really ready to do that?
If you’re committed, then the answer must be yes. If you’re not, then stop reading this article.
2. Think Which are the next Best Steps to become what You love.
Once you have created your detailed life vision, create a plan with the single next steps you want to take care of every day to transform that vision into reality.
3. Feel, Deeply, What It Would Feel Like To Truly Be That Person
“According to research on mental rehearsal, once we immerse ourselves in that scene, changes begin to take place in our brain. Therefore, each time we do this, we’re laying down new neurological tracks (in the present moment) that literally change our brain to look like the brain of our future. In other words, the brain starts to look like the future we want to create has already happened.”
– Dr. Joe Dispenza
This is the most powerful strategy. Once you’ve committed to something, your job is to shift your brain, mindset, and identity to match that future reality.
Like in a dating game, you are the person (or the DATING APP) who brings your OLD SELF in contact with your FUTURE SELF….! :), hoping that they will fall in love into each other and live together 🙂
You can do this through…
Environment design, and
For example, during your morning meditation/visualization, you want to see your future goals. You want to see yourself where you ideally want to be. This is an important distinction. All goals are not really desired outcomes but desired versions of yourself.
That’s all a goal is: a new you.
Your body is a chemical machine that becomes addicted to and accustomed to various emotional states. Your body then subconsciously acts in ways to reproduce the emotions it has become habituated to.
So, before you know it, you grab your cellphone and are back scrolling the newsfeeds. You didn’t consciously choose to do this. Your body impulsively did it because when you engage in that particular behavior, your body gets the chemicals it has become addicted to.
If you want a new future and new you, then you need new chemicals.
This occurs through:
Fresh environments/experiences, and
Bold new behaviors
Each of these produces emotions. The new emotions can reset your subconscious normal. You want and need a new normal because your sense of normal is your identity and reality.
Every day, you need to produce the desired emotions of your future self. This is what visualization is all about.
4. Act, Shifting As Much As possible in Your Current Life to Reflect Your Future Self
“Design crushes willpower.”
– Dr. Bj Fogg
Visualization isn’t enough. You need to begin seeing evidence throughout your life that you’re serious about this. One of the most powerful ways to create evidence of your future dreams is to begin investing time and money in those dreams and ACTING as you would be already the person you want to be.
When you begin making powerful decisions in your life, aligned with your life vision, you are then enabled to prioritize your life. You can determine who you want in and out. You can determine what success looks like, for you. You can stop playing other people’s games and reset your brain to expect very different and unexpected results.
How much do your current life, environment, and behavior match your desired future?
Two final additional considerations:
I. Expect Everything, Attach to Nothing
“Expect everything and attach to nothing.”
– Carrie Campbell
One of the most common platitudes is to lower your expectations so you don’t get hurt.
Why are we so afraid of getting hurt?
According to the Expectancy Theory of Motivation, your expectations play a huge role not only in your motivation but in your results in life. According to the theory, there are three prerequisites to being motivated:
You have to actually want the outcome in question
You have to have some knowledge or competency as to how to get it
You have to believe you can do whatever is involved in achieving that goal
Now, the more evolved you become, the less you are the one to do everything involved. You increase your confidence by teaming-up with other capable people. You increase confidence by making progress.
Often, people fail to make progress and instead procrastinate because they don’t know what to do. They have a goal but have little skill or knowledge. So, the goal becomes a dream unfulfilled.
When you begin taking action toward the dream, investing in that dream, and building a team around you - then you’ll start making progress. This progress will increase anticipation and expectation that you’ll succeed.
It’s your choice, really, if you succeed or fail. It’s up to you how bold and committed you will be. It’s up to you how motivated you will be.
Of course, you’re going to face painful moments. If the future you’re pursuing is boldly bigger and different from your present, then you’re going to fall flat on your face a lot.
It’s going to hurt. You should get used to that.
It’s going to be complex and confusing. You should and can get used to that. It just takes repeated exposure, increased knowledge, commitment, and support.
Lots of self-help writers these days argue you shouldn’t have goals because they make you feel horrible. You feel bad if you fail and you’re disappointed when you succeed.
This is total nonsense. Without purpose, you perish. The problem isn’t goals or expectations. The problem is an emotional attachment to the outcomes you’ll experience along the way.
Get used to pain and failure and nothing can stop you.
II. Measure the Gain, Not the Gap
“The way to measure your progress is backward against where you started, not against your ideal.”
– Dan Sullivan, THE GAIN AND THE GAP
Every 30 or 90 days, a solid practice that Dan Sullivan teaches his entrepreneurs in the Strategic Coach program is to Measure the gain.
Here’s how it works:
Every 30 or 90 days, answer these questions:
What were the five biggest wins?
What about your current situation gives you the most confidence and excitement?
What are the five jumps or wins in the next 30 to 90 days that will create the biggest impact?
That first question may be the most important. It helps you frame your past in a positive way. It helps you selectively attend to the progress you’re making. Most people, regardless of their success, focus on the gap. They only see lack. They only see what they’re not doing well.
Of course, having high expectations can be good for performance. But a relentless insistence that nothing is good enough is also bad for joy and even confidence.
You can keep moving forward in your life while at the same time enjoying the process. In fact, research shows that happiness bolsters motivation and success. Other research on endurance athletes shows that how they feel while performing determines how long they can go. If their jaw is clenched and they feel they are exerting lots of effort, they will burn out faster than those with a loose jaw who feel calm.
This is a picture of the inside cover of my journal. Every 30 days, I complete a new journal. Every time I open my journal to write, I start by looking at this first page.
On this first page are the following questions:
Where am I now?
What were the wins from the past 90 days?
What are the wins from the next 90 days I want?
Where do I want to be in three years? (vivid vision)
Where do I want to be in one year?
These questions trigger and frame my journal writing. They help me remember what I’m trying to accomplish. They keep me living in the gain all the time.
Life becomes a lot of fun. Success becomes much easier. I become much happier.
Are you in the gap or the gain?
Are you emotionally attached to outcomes along the way?
Are you incessantly negative, despite your success?
Is happiness always somewhere in the future, and never here and now
Success is a joyful process. Change is a joyful process. Without purpose, you will perish. These five steps will help you achieve your dreams and find joy along the way.
I wish you LIGHT AND FLOW to create and manifest your best FUTURE SELF !
Please join me at my TEDx Talk on Feb. 22nd 2020 starting at 02:00 pm in the BETA HOUSE – Harzer Straße 39, 12059 Berlin ! Looking forward to meeting you there…