3. Imagine your future-self 3 years from now
“12 years from now, your future self is going to thank you for something you did today, for an asset you began to build, a habit you formed, a seed you planted. Even if you’re not sure of where it will lead, today’s the day to begin” – Seth Godin
Author, Benjamin Hardy, invites us to think about our future self and current self as two different people. The reason for this is when you imagine this person 3 years from today, who do you imagine them to be? What kind of work are they doing, how do they appear physically, what does their day look like, how are they emotionally? When you can craft this person in your mind – I would suggest this as a journal exercise – it opens up the possibility that you can become someone different from today. The truth is you are not the same person you were five years ago, so why would be the same another 5 years out?
Take a moment to pause and reflect on your current days of all meetings and little else in between – is this really serving future you (never mind current you)?
You have to imagine this person and then take daily steps of action now in order to translate the vison into a reality. Often it involves doing things that seem irrelevant to today, Peter Bregman spoke about this in his book ‘Emotional Courage’:
Here’s the key: you need to spend time on the future even when there are more important things to do in the present and even when there is no immediately and apparent return to your efforts. In other words – and this is the hard part – if you want to be productive, you need to spend time doing things that feel ridiculously unproductive’.
This resonated hugely for me when I received an online course as a gift for pre-ordering a book. Initially, the self-talk was ‘you can’t possibly spend time on this because it isn’t that important compared to your other real work’.
It made sense in my head – I have workshops and writing deadlines scheduled into my calendar, naturally, all my time must be dedicated to this because I have an accountability to my clients.
I can’t tell you the impact this quote had on me because it was the permission I needed to allow myself time to do something that is just for me and will have huge benefit to future me even though it feels irrelevant today. I have carved out space in my calendar for the upcoming weeks dedicated to completing this course, even if its 30 minutes. The time I spend on this course completely energises me and recharges me and that’s reason enough.
The big leap is giving yourself permission to do something you enjoy that doesn’t necessarily give you an immediate result.
For example, reading books on the subject of your work feels validated because you can justify the reason for doing it. But what if you decided you wanted to spend more time outdoors riding your bike or painting or doing something completely unrelated and doesn’t give you a box to tick. What about instead of business books, you picked up a fiction book that is just completely escapism?
If you want to emerge from lockdown as a rider, you need to invest time in building the skills. It is the mind-set shift that it is important and will matter. The flipside is that you only focus on work and have no new skills to show for it.
Think about your work or personal life – what are the projects or goals you are putting off because it doesn’t feel like it’s validated to work on it? Or perhaps you want to study something or start an online program. Give yourself permission to make time for future you today.
4. What am I still believing?
“What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? – Greg McKeon
Often we link self-worth to something external such as money, title, material possessions, etc. This is referred to as an external locus of control and we do it all the time. Think about it…
How often do you link your self-worth to numbers?
The number on the scale, the number in your bank account, the number of friends on the socials, the number of likes, the number of sales you made…This is not sustainable because you cannot control any of this and it becomes an internal narrative of ‘When I make X amount or reach this target, then I’ll be successful or even worse – then I’ll be happy’.
I listened to a podcast by author, meditation expert and psychologist Tara Brach where she encourages you to ask the question ‘What am I still believing?’ I sat down with this question and it’s a heavy one if you are going to be honest with yourself and I realised I was linking self-worth to achievement.
Is your belief that your self-worth is dependent on how busy you are?
The reason it is so important to make the shift in this belief is this is what may be contributing to keeping you in front of your computer all day. ‘If I’m working hard and ‘being productive’, then I am a worthy person’. The reality is by 2pm when you haven’t taken a break to eat lunch properly or even stretched or done something for yourself – that is not being productive, it is being destructive.