Please stop me if any of this self talk sounds familiar:
“Today I will eat twice the dessert, but tomorrow I will stick to my diet.”
“Today I will skip my workout, but tomorrow I’ll double up.”
“I’m too tired to tackle that big work project or task today, but tomorrow I’ll be ready to roll on it.”
The examples can go on and on, and you can substitute ‘days’ for weeks, months and years…
Reflecting on these, it’s pretty clear that we have a ton of faith in our future self.
But how often has our future self ended up coming through for us versus acting in the same way as our current self?
More importantly, are we really surprised when things aren’t any different?
Let’s take some time to reflect on the trust we’ve been placing in our future self over the years and instead ask whether there is another approach… whether there is another way.
I’ve lived the mindset of relying on the actions of my future self to justify my current shortcomings too many times to count (or want to count).
I’ve crushed desserts because the ‘me’ of tomorrow or next week was going to be so much more dialed into my nutrition plan, so I’d make up for it then.
Future me was going to get up earlier to workout, so the me of today should sleep in and rest.
The me of next week was going to be more outgoing, bolder and driven, so the me of today can stay quiet and hide.
I never necessarily knew that what I was doing was actually a thing.
Thankfully, I received a gift over the holidays that addressed and named this challenge…
I received the fitness book, Bigger Leaner Stronger which outlined a new workout program and a whole bunch of nutrition guidance and fitness know-how which I ate right up.
More importantly, and as it relates to today’s post, it also had a section of the book focused on mindset – hell yes!
This section had a subsection entitled, “The Crystal Ball of Delusion”, and it summed up this ruse that I had been playing on myself throughout my life…
Face the Delusion & Destroy the Crystal Ball
The subsection of the chapter starts out with the following line:
“One of our favorite ways to abandon our self-control is to justify the sins of the present with the planned virtues of the future.”
This message we tell ourself is built upon the assumption that we will make better decisions tomorrow despite what we are doing today.
We believe in our future selves too much sometimes, and it creates a recipe for disaster and disappointment. Don’t let the hope and dream of our ideal future self justify giving less than our best today.
Only by giving your best today, can you begin to create the future self that you want. Here are a few tools you can leverage to begin to make the you of the future, the you of today.
Take some quiet time and visualize the ideal version of yourself. See yourself doing what it is you keep wanting to do. Depending on your goals, perhaps you are seeing yourself eating better (and enjoying it), working on specific projects or tasks that are helping you achieve your personal vision, starting your dream job or opening up your own company. The more detail you can create the better. See it, feel it and live it in your mind.
Taking the exercise a step further, visualize the outcomes if you don’t take the actions you know you need to take. See the potential sickness of a poor diet, or feel the lack of energy and fulfillment that comes with staying in a situation that doesn’t inspire you for too long.
None of us have to embark on this journey alone. Find at least one person that can help keep you on track and pick you up when you fall. Build an accountability group that not only knows the goals you want to achieve, but also knows the pitfalls that have knocked you off course in the past. Be honest with them about what the future self you are striving for looks like so they can keep you focused. Having a strong accountability and support system will increase your chances for success. Support them in their growth as well and before you know it, you will create a circle of genius that is taking the world by storm.
Write to the Future You
The written word is powerful. What do you hope that the future version of you will be like if you begin taking the actions you need to take today? What would future you have achieved? What kind of life did you create? Write it all down! Your letter should vividly depict who you are going to be when the future you reads it.
Begin to see that letter as a written commitment or contract that you need to begin to live up to immediately. Give this letter to one of your accountability buddies to deliver to you in the future, or leverage something like FutureMe.org to e-mail your letter to yourself at the future time you choose. By writing your letter, you are defining the gap between where you are and where you want to be – start building the bridge to get over that gap and continue on – forever forward.
Build the 1% Better Mindset
Finally, I would challenge all of us to adopt the mindset and mentality of 1% better every day. What is one tweak you can make to create an incremental improvement in some aspect of your life each day? Give up one soda a day, or drop and knock out 5 or 10 pushups and body weight squats. Smile at the people you come in contact with.
1% doesn’t feel like much, but over the course of a year, a 365% improvement in yourself will be a huge game changer, so find your 1% improvement right now and start building your momentum!
Discussion Question: What is one thing that you keep saying your future self will do that you can start doing TODAY?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."