“Life is a sum of all your choices. So what are you doing today?” — Albert Camus
The skill of visualizing your Future Self might just be the best skill you can develop as the director of your life to grow yourself in the direction of your dreams.
After all, we’re really the sum of our decisions.
Your Future Self is a version of you in the future, whether that’s tomorrow, next week, 30 days from now, 90 days from now, 1 year from now, 10 years from now, etc.
You have the ability to create a vision of Future You that you want to become.
And visualizing your Future Self is a powerful and pragmatic way to inspire and motivate yourself to make better choices and take better actions each day.
By stepping into the future, you can imagine a version of you that your Current Self aspires to.
But the full benefits of this exercise depend, ultimately depend on your ability to connect and relate to your Future Self.
Empathy is the Key to Feeling Your Future
The key to inspiring yourself and treating yourself better today, is connecting and building empathy with your Future Self.
By practicing your creativity, imagination, and visualization you can create and connect with a version of your Future Self that you want to become.
Don’t just see it. Feel it. Make it real in your mind and feel it in your body.
As Earl Nightingale put it:
“We become what we think about most of the time, and that’s the strangest secret.”
The more you get mindful, the more that it works.
Your mind, your body, and your emotions can get tremendous benefits from what you vividly imagine.
And you get better at mental rehearsal by being mindful as you do the exercise.
How Agile Results is a Simple Way to Practice Your Future Self
In Agile Results, time is a first-class citizen. It’s baked in so by default, you are already practicing Future Self.
If you’re new to Agile Results, I’ll summarize it as a simple system for meaningful results.
It’s Agile because you embrace change, learn and respond, and you chunk your bigger ambitions down into smaller chunks of change.
The backbone of Agile Results is a pattern I call Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection. This pattern helps you win your week.
You practice Agile Results using The Rule of 3:
- 3 Wins for Today
- 3 Wins for This Week
- 3 Wins for This Month
- 3 Wins for This Quarter
- 3 Wins for This Year
For a full guide to Agile Results, you can start with The Ultimate Guide to Agile Results, or my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, which has been a best-seller in time management and productivity.
Fresh Starts are also part of Agile Results, where each day, each week, each month, each year is turning a new page.
Fresh Starts help you rebound and bounce back better—they help you put your burdens down, as you rise again renewed.
It might seem small and subtle, but this is a great way to start your day, the Agile Way, so you’re fresh and ready for your meaningful moments ahead.
With that in mind, let’s step into each time frame so you can see how you can practice your Future Self, as part of practicing Agile Results.
How To Practice Your Future Self Today
Start each day by asking yourself the following question:
“What are 3 Wins do you want to achieve Today?”
This is your chance to slow down, to speed up, and make your day more meaningful by working on things that matter.
I encourage people to start with a simple yellow sticky pad and physically write their 3 Wins down.
Of course you can do this digitally, and that works, too, but there is a special advantage for those that physically write down their 3 Wins for Today.
I know this sounds like a simple exercise, and it is, but you’re actually doing a lot:
- You’re getting intentional. By choosing your 3 victories for today, you are being intentional about the outcomes you will try to create. You would make Stephen Covey proud
- You’re prioritizing. This itself is a skill, and you can practice every day.
- You’re rising above your tasks. In addition to your list of “tasks” that you “do”, you are adding the “outcomes” that you want to “achieve”.
- You’re creating focus. As you go about your day, you have your simple list of 3 Wins to remind you and pull you back to what’s important.
- You’re generating energy. This is your chance to create wins or victories or results that inspire you and pull you forward through your day.
Now, here is where your Future Self comes into play.
Picture yourself at the end of the day, your Future Self, feeling good about the day.
Imagine how much better your Future Self will feel, when you know that you did your best.
You have setbacks and challenges, but you learn and respond.
Your Future Self appreciates how, no matter how your day goes, you make the most it.
How To Practice Your Future Self This Week
Start each week by asking yourself the following question:
“What 3 Wins do you want to achieve This Week?”
Friday will arrive. Your Future Self is already there.
How are you feeling about your week?
I call this exercise Monday Vision for a reason. This is your vision for the week.
Take the time to really figure out what your 3 highlights or your 3 Wins for this week will be.
In fact, it helps to think of your 3 Wins in terms of headlines. What would the headlines be?
And this is your chance to mentally rehearse how you want your week to go.
Actually, this your chance to create your week and design it. (And never forget that, this is how you empower yourself to be more and achieve more.)
At a minimum, you get to direct yourself throughout the week, and as wise mentor put it, you control two things:
- Your attitude
- Your actions
This is your opportunity to turn your chores into chances.
This is your opportunity to turn your setbacks and challenges into “Leadership moments” and “Learning Opportunities”.
This is where Future Self gets really interesting…Not only do you have your Future Self to look forward to on Friday, but you can also step into the challenges of your week ahead.
You can choose your response. You can experiment with different responses. You can play out different possibilities.
This is your chance to both get creative and to plant a seed in your subconscious mind to help you out.
You’ll suddenly find Future Self is able to respond a lot better than you ever even imagined.
Your Future Self will surprise you as you start to unleash your full potential.
And the beauty is a little practice goes a long way.
One thing people always tell me is that while they don’t always feel like they get better at their day, they tend to get better at their week.
I tell them that their week has more wiggle room and more chances to surprise themselves with what they can achieve….when they put their mind, and their Future Self, to it.
Your Future Self is a very powerful force indeed.
How To Practice Your Future Self 30 Days from Now
This is where things get really exciting. Picture your 30 days from now.
That’s your Future Self with 30 days under your belt.
With Agile Results, you actually have a few ways to practice your Future Self.
First, you can start with the familiar routine and ask yourself the following question:
“What 3 Wins do you want to achieve This Month?”
You know the drill.
And now this is your chance to really practice and get good seeing and feeling what 30 days from now feels like.
Really see and feel who is your Future Self 30 days from now.
Again, you are the director, so create yourself as you see fit, and remember all things are created twice, first in the mind, then in the world.
Second, with Agile Results, you can also practice 30 Days Sprints to reshape Future You.
A 30 Day Sprint is a great way to practice and shape your Future Self because of how your actions add up.
You can think of your 30 Day Sprints as Improvement Sprints or Learning Sprints or Exploration or Experiment Sprints…whatever you need.
But the main idea is that you will do a little each day, over 30 days, to make some meaningful progress.
And progress is not a linear line.
You’ll have your ups and downs, and sometimes to move forward, you’ll feel like you’re falling backward.
And some days, you will leap frog ahead.
But it’s the little bit each day where you set the stage for serendipity and your moments of magnificence.
The real key here is to get vivid when you imagine who you can become 30 days from now.
If you don’t know what’s possible, research the kinds of 30 day transformations that people have done.
One of my greatest transformation was losing 30 pounds in 30 days.
It changed everything. I didn’t know what was possible for me. And I really didn’t imagine what a change like that would look like.
But now I know, and now I have the mental images in my mind that I can use to inspire myself when I need it most.
I will say that what really helped is that I remembered Tony Robbins story of losing 30 pounds in a month.
And I remembered the phrase: “If it can be done, it can be done by me.”
The real beauty here is that the more you do your impossible, the more capable you become.
Today’s impossibility are your Future Self’s possibilities that become your Past Self’s realities.
I find that using 30 Day Sprints to practice Future You is a really good learning and feedback loop, as well as a great test bed for exploring my art of the possible.
It pushes my realm of reason beyond the comfort of today and this week, into bigger and better boundaries where I can dream bigger achievements and better changes.
Dreaming big is a skill that your inner child knows and you just need to remember.
How To Practice Your Future Self 1 Year from Now
I could just state the usual and ask yourself the following question:
“What 3 Wins do you want to achieve this year?”
But I’m not.
No, we’re going to add a little twist, and I believe it’s the twist that makes the difference.
This is big.
Your Future Self a year from now is undeniably capable of many great things.
It will come down to what you focus on, how you inspire yourself, how you make choices, and you take action each day.
And you get 365 days, give or take, to compound your effort.
You can accrue your mini-actions each day toward your North Star vision of Future You in a year.
To make this real and relevant, this is an exercise where 3 Wins for This Year really shines.
And you can use your past to inform your future.
Here’s how it goes.
You can use this past year as a simple example. If you think back over the past year, what were your 3 Wins?
You might have a lot of little victories or even some amazing wins.
Or you might really struggle to put your finger on something you feel was an important or meaningful achieve for you.
I’m not going to say, “that’s OK”. I’m going to say, “there’s a better way.”
Do not overwhelm yourself with a year of great expectations or goals that you dread.
Instead, pretend you have a genie, and just ask yourself the following question:
“What are your 3 Wishes for This Year?”
Don’t overthink it.
If anything, try to get out of your own way, and really get in touch with what you really want.
I actually created this exercise because one year I was really struggling with the details of making SMART goals and figuring out and defining objectives, measures and metrics, etc.
I started getting caught up in defining a goal vs. objective, and then “process or means” goals vs. “end” goals.
Finally, I pushed it all aside in my mind, and just asked myself very openly and very honestly, what 3 wishes did I want for this year.
And I instantly responded with my 3 wishes:
- I wanted to be my fighting weight
- I wanted to take an epic adventure
- I wanted to ship my book
All 3 things came true, but that’s not the moral of the story.
By figuring out what I really desired, I was able to create much more compelling goals that inspired me for the year.
I was able to get more planful because I was able to hold in my mind, scenes of the future to pull me forward.
I had to really hit pause on my critical mind, and get playful with possibility, so I could figure out what I really wanted out of the year.
I then realized that most people have goals all wrong and they downplay them or abandon them.
I learned to think about goals in a brand new, refreshing way, and yet excitingly simple.
A goal is simply a change you want to achieve.
Really think about that. Let that sink in.
A goal is a “change” that you “want” to achieve.
To put it another way, it’s not really a goal if it’s not a change.
And if you don’t want that change, then why even bother. You’ll just sabotage yourself in some way, or you’ll waste your time, energy and attention.
Spend your precious life force on something else.
Create only compelling goals and experiences that inspire you and pull you forward by making sure your goals are “changes that you want to achieve”.
Once you have the essence of your goals in mind…the changes you want to achieve, now feel free to use your fancy SMART goals and strategic planning.
This way, you don’t let the tail wag the dog.
And in this way, your Current Self is now all in on your goals because your Future Self represents changes you actually care about.
And now, that your Current Self is aligned with your Future Self, you can start to use your Future Self, your “North Star” to really influence today’s decisions and actions.
Uh, oh… I think your Future Self is transforming into Unstoppable You.
This year is a great chance to practice the phrase each day from The Little Engine that Could:
Meanwhile, your Future Self is smiling upon you saying:
“I thought I could, I thought I could.”
Aside –Affirmations are powerful, but you have to say them with feeling.
Dandapani teaches us there are 3 key ingredients to better affirmations:
- choice of positive words
- clear visualization
- corresponding feeling
So say it, see it, and feel it with deep feelings.
I like to think of it as, “feel it in my bones”.
Also, remember the other key to making things happen is massive action. Even the last 6 letter of the law of attraction are A-C-T-I-O-N
To really practice your Future Self from a 1 year standpoint, imagine checking in with yourself at the end of the year.
Imagine being able to put a bow on the year by using your 3 Wins as the backbone.
Your 3 Wins for the Year are actually great bookends for the year.
They give you a way to inspire the start of the year, and a fantastic way to check in at the end of the year, and of course, throughout the year.
Each month and each quarter, you can check in on progress against your 3 Wins for the Year.
Adjust if you must, but just be intentional because when you choose what you’re striving for, it keeps you on path, wherever you are in your journey.
How To Practice Your Future Self 10 Years from Now
If you thought a year was big, well then, your world’s about to rock.
A decade is a great timeframe to compound your capability. Just imagine what 10 years of deliberate practice could do.
We underestimate the amount of change we can make in a decade.
Tony Robbins says it best:
“Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year–and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.”
There is some strong science to back it up, especially in the Future Self research in psychology.
Maybe I should actually stay, startling science, because we don’t just change the basics in a 10 year span.
We actually experience shifts in values, changes in preferences we thought were set in stone, and even change our personality.
Now that’s one to grow on (wink).
The challenge is this is where you may easily feel the most disconnected from your Future Self.
After all, a decade can feel so far away, whether you are looking forward or backward.
It’s a lot of space and time for a lot of change.
That’s why this is your greatest time frame for your greatest changes,
Just when you think your finally arrived at who you are, think again. You’re always ready to rise again, in another form, Phoenix style.
May your Phoenix shine so bright, I gotta wear shades.
To really practice your Futures Self 10 years into the future, you really need to stretch your creativity and imagination.
Remember Einstein’s words:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
After all, you won’t create new or different results, from the same beliefs, thinking, or mindset that got you to where you are today.
Dare I say it, but, imagine what happens when you ask yourself:
“What 3 Wins do you want to achieve This Decade?”
That is big.
That’s VERY big.
In fact, this is where your ability to Dream Big, is exactly what you should be practicing.
This is where it helps to learn what kinds of amazing things people have pulled off in their lifetimes.
Don’t think of them as your blueprints, they could be.
Instead, the stories of the achievements of others are your kindling and your fire starters.
This is your imagination. This is your playground. This is YOUR future.
You are the author of your life and this is your most powerful chance to really write your story forward.
Practice removing your limiting beliefs and limiting behaviors.
You in the future should wow yourself. A great adage is:
“Age like a fine wine and get better with age.”
One way Tony Robbins unleashes himself and others is he uses what he calls his “Rocking Chair Test.”
He said imagine yourself as 80 years old, or whatever age is ahead of you enough to be interesting, sitting on your rocking chair.
Imagine that you didn’t do whatever it is where fear is holding you back.
If it doesn’t bother you, then it doesn’t matter and don’t do it.
But, if you feel like you missed out, and you regret not doing it, then go for it.
And remember that we underestimate what we’re capable of over longer periods of time, so stretch the limits of your imagination accordingly.
Your greatness calls. Your Future Self knows this.
Grow in the direction of your greatness and set your Future Self free.
Best Wishes for Your Best Year Ever
We covered a lot of ground, so let’s recap the main ideas:
- Practice your Future Self today when you ask, “What 3 Wins do you want to achieve Today?”
- Practice your Future Self a week from now when you ask, “What 3 Wins do you want to achieve This Week?”
- Practice your Future Self a month from now when you ask, “What 3 Wins do you want to achieve This Month?” and by using 30 Day Sprints
- Practice your Future Self a year from now when you ask, “What are 3 Wishes you want for This Year?” (and translate that to your 3 Wins for This Year)
- Practice your Future Self a decade from now when you ask, “What are 3 Wins you want for This Decade?”
Keep in mind you are compounding your capability.
You can make each moment count, but this isn’t about counting your moments.
This is about adding more life to your years by creating more meaningful moments.
And this is a very simple but profound way to use your Future Self to inspire yourself for the best of your life for the rest of your life.
And please, if you won’t do this for yourself, do this for your Future Self
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10 Big Ideas from Agile Results
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Getting Started with Agile Results
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How To Use Agile Results to Realize Your Full Potential