“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw
As we turn the page of a new month or a new year, it’s a chance to write a new story for your Future Self.
Here’s the key phrase to remember:
Be the author of your life, and write your story forward!
That’s the phrase I use in my talks and my book Getting Results the Agile Way.
It’s an empowering statement, and a powerful skill.
Write a narrative story for your Future Self that inspires you and pulls you forward. You can write your story for the future, and there is great power in a narrative you write from your heart.
You can learn how to practice the skill, right now, right here, today.
When You Envision Your Future Self, You Create Focus
For the past several years, I’ve been helping teams and leaders write their stories for their Future Self based on science and proven practices for better results.
It’s a wonderful thing when you see people envision their Future Self and then take actions and implement choices that make it happen.
You’re future is created twice, first in your mind, then in the world.
On the flip side, I see too many people jumping into goals and habits and New Year’s resolutions without first taking a step back and figuring out who do they want to become.
This just creates a random exercise in futility.
If you can get a clear picture of who you want to be and what experiences you want to create, it will help you focus and prioritize your time, energy, and attention.
This clear picture of your Future Self is what then pulls you forward into the future, fueling your motivation, and helping you make better decisions every day.
Clarity Creates Courage
With a clear and compelling picture of your Future Self, you will be able to better deal with setbacks and you will be able to stick with any habits or goals that you set for yourself.
When you have a clear picture of your Future Self, you’ll find yourself paying attention to opportunities, tools, and resources to help you realize your vision.
We like to be consistent with ourselves.
To put it another way, we hate incongruence. It creates cognitive dissonance.
If you have a vision for “future you” and your heart is really in it, you will find yourself making choices to support that vision and to bridge the gap between your current state and your desired future state.
The real beauty here is that clarity creates courage, and when you find your courage, your find conviction.
How To Write Your Story for Your Future Self
To write your story, simply write a narrative about “future you.”
Describe the kind of person you want to be and what life is like. If it helps, imagine “a day in the life” for your Future Self and walk through a day.
The more clearly you can see it, the more fully you can sense it, the more you will be able to feel it, and the more you will be able to realize it, and make it come true.
This will help you build empathy for your Future Self. (This is a big deal—otherwise, our brains shut down when we think about the future.)
You are free to write your story however you see fit, but I think there are some very helpful guidelines that will help you make the most of the exercise.
Here they are:
Write your story using very simple “I am” and “I feel” statements.
For example, “I am strong and fit like a Navy Seal.”
Or, “I feel calm, cool, and collected even under my otherwise stressful situations.”
Don’t let fears and limiting beliefs hold you back.
There is no reason to hold yourself back. Use your ability to “imagine if” and really step into who you would like to be and the experience you want to create.
Keep in mind that just by doing this exercise, you will make any goal setting for personal development or for work, that much more effective, and you will be able to do way more effective career development and planning, because you will have a clear vision and a compelling canvas and backdrop to work from.
Categories to Write About
When you write your story for the future, write about the categories that are important for you. I’ve provided some simple categories and prompts, but what’s important is that your story is YOUR story and that it reflects your hopes, dreams, and desires for the life you want to lead.
Here are some categories and prompts to help you write your story for the future:
- Mind – What do you want to learn? Do you want to learn a new language? Do you want to learn an instrument? Do you want to learn a new job skill? What characteristics do you want to express in terms of creativity or curiosity?
- Body – How do you want to feel when you wake up in the morning? What do you want for your health or wellness? How fit do you want to feel, or how strong do you want to be?
- Emotions – How do you want to feel each day? Do you want to feel more zest for life? Do you want to feel a deep sense of exhilaration or a deep sense of inner peace? Do you want to better manage your emotions? Do you want to feel more happiness? Do you want to feel more contentment? Do you want to feel more enthusiasm as you dive into your day?
- Career – What is your mission? What do you want to spend more time doing on a daily basis? What would it be like if you could spend more time in your strengths, and less time in your weaknesses? What skills do you want to master? How do you want to show up and be present? What do you like to do that makes you come alive?
- Finance – What role do you want money to play in your life? Do you want to be debt free? Do you want to have a nest egg or an emergency fund? Do you want to be a smarter spender, or a smarter investor? Do you want to cut back on some expenses? Do you want to give more to charities? Do you want to achieve financial freedom? Do you want to master money the way some people seem to know how? Do you want to learn new skills to help you deal with any of your financial challenges?
- Relationships – What kind of people do you want in your life? What kind of a friend, parent, sister, brother, father, or mother, do you want to be? How do you want to make the people feel around you? How do you want others to experience you?
- Fun – What are some things you used to enjoy that you haven’t done in a very long time? What sorts of hobbies or activities really remind you what it’s like to be a kid again? What kinds of things could you do that would really bring a genuine smile to your face, or help your heart feel a little lighter each day?
Use whatever prompts you need. The key is to set your mind free to explore who you really want to become and what experiences you want to create.
Write as much or as little as you need to bring your story of “future you” for the future to life.
Example Story for My Future Self
Here is an example of a story for the future to give you some ideas and to help you write your story for the future:
“As I start each day, my mind is free and clear, and ready to focus. Ideas come easy, and I am able to learn new things faster, and easier than ever before.
I enjoy the process of learning as much as I enjoy applying what I learn. I am able to prioritize and focus on the things that really matter.
When I run into setbacks and challenges, I don’t make things permanent, personal, or pervasive.
I find the lesson, I work through the challenge, and I continue moving forward in a positive way.
I feel strong and fit like a Navy Seal.
When I wake up, I feel rested and relaxed and I am ready for a new day.
During my morning workout, I push myself to find new limits and to reach new levels of strength, balance, and agility.
Walking up stairs is a breeze, and I enjoy how easily my legs take me wherever I want to go.
My health reflects my habits, and I eat better, sleep better, and move better.
The feeling of strength in my body carries over to feeling strong and resilient in my mind.
I feel a sense of deep exhilaration, joy, and fulfillment. I laugh easily and freely, and when I smile, my eyes smile, too.
When things go wrong, I don’t react. I respond with care and compassion.
Stress happens, but I learn from it, and remind myself to feel more “peaceful calm.”
I use stress to be my best, and to master my emotions.
I write the guides that change the world. I empower people with skills they need to realize their potential and to live healthier, happier, and more fulfilled lives.
I hack a better world through strategy, technology, and insights.
I am a trusted advisor for CEOs and help them build a better businesses and build a better workforce that makes a better dent in the universe.
Work is my personal dojo for growth and greatness, and I learn from everyone around me, while lifting others up and helping them stand on the shoulders of giants through proven practices.
I help professional athletes, CEOS, entrepreneurs, doctors, teachers, students, and all walks of life, realize their potential in ways they didn’t expect.
I am debt free and financially free.
I am able to give back in bigger and better ways than I ever thought imaginable.
I invest in R&D to support hacking a better quality of life. I reach a new level of financial fitness and financial intelligence through mentors that have mastered the game of money.
I am a master at creating and capturing value in ways that realize my potential and play to my strengths.
I am an angel investor and a coach to help more people create unique value for the world and achieve financial freedom.
I feel a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude for the people in my life. I feel a sense of good will and send positive intentions to everyone I meet.
I spend more time with catalysts and less time with drains.
I give more than I get, and pay it forward, knowing that what goes around, comes around, and that Karma works in mysterious ways.
I go on at least one big, bold adventure every three months, and I regularly dive into new hobbies and interests.
I take a fresh look at my old hobbies and interests to see if I can find what I really enjoyed and to see if I can add some new twists to old and familiar pleasures.
I read for fun again.”
It’s not perfect.
It’s not meant to be.
It’s meant to be raw and real and to connect with some very fundamental ideas and emotions that make us human.
Play with possibilities and explore your own art of the possible and let your imagination soar, like it’s never soared before.
It may take a few tries to really flex your wings for flight again, but don’t despair. Just try again, and keep trying until you have a simple story that really makes you excited for the year ahead.
You’ve done a good job when you can’t wait to get out of the bed in the morning to make your dreams come true.
Be the author of your life … write your story forward.
If this helps you become the Future You and transform like a Phoenix, I’d love to hear your story.