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Who is this future you?
Let’s clarify a couple of important points before we really dive into how this way of thinking can help you. Future you … is you! But, you should conceive of her as a separate entity from your current self. So, there are two people we’re going to be talking about here, current you and future you. It’s important that you think of them as separate in order for this technique to work.
Think about it: you don’t really know that much about your future self anyway, do you? At least, you’re not exactly sure about her. Think about future you, say, six months from now. What will be happening for her professionally? Does she go to the gym and eat healthy, or not so much? Does she have a clean house? Is she organized? Did she get enough sleep last night? The fact of the matter is, you don’t really know for sure, but you have hopes and you have goals. This is where the technique comes in.
Do it for future you.
Imagine that it’s the end of an epically long work day and it’s finally time to go home. You could take five more minutes to tidy up your workspace and organize your to-do list for tomorrow, or you could just call it a day, skip that part, and head home now. After all, you are awfully tired….
This is exactly when future you should come into your mind. Current you is tired and wants to go home right now – she doesn’t care that future you will suffer if she does. Future you, on the other hand, would really appreciate it if you put those five minutes in now so that she can hit the ground running in the morning.
Now, imagine what would happen if, when faced with these kinds of decisions, you made the best choice for future you every time. You’d not only put in those five minutes at the end of the day to improve tomorrow, you might go on that business trip, skip the gym a lot less, head to bed earlier, and so on. This method could help you feel more motivated, take better care of yourself, and make better choices. And, that would be amazing for your career and even your life in general.
But, you also have to feel connected to future you…
It turns out that it’s natural to think of our future self as a separate person from who we are currently. Science has shown that people feel a certain level of detachment and disconnection from the future iteration of themselves. In a way, this helps with the method discussed here, because you need to see your future self as separate from your current self in order to apply the method. But, on the other hand, it kind of makes it harder; unfortunately, research has also indicated that sometimes people are careless with the choices they make because of this disconnect.
In other words, if future you feels too separate, you might not do right by her. You might think, “oh well, I’ll deal with that later.” Instead, try stopping yourself at these moments and making the best choice for future you – give current you the short end of the stick instead.
So, try thinking about future you when faced with little tests of your motivation throughout the day – like with our cleaning-up-the-desk-before-heading-home example. And, remember that making good decisions for future you will help you get where you want to go with your life and career. Stay connected and do right by her. You might be amazed by how far this way of thinking will take both of you.
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