Think about where you are today, and imagine that you stay on the same track and keep driving forward. Fast forward to 25 years into the future… What does your life look like? Are you satisfied with your future self? Are you living the dream or at least living a life that you think is pretty darn good for a person who started with what you started with?
If you’re not happy with the track you are on or where it’s leading, it’s ok. I want you to go back to the future for a moment and talk with your future self. (I know this sounds crazy to some people but humor me.) Close your eyes and imagine there are two chairs. In one chair, you are the present you. The other is you in 25 years.
If you want to level up this experience and make it even more real (and yes I’ve done this) place two chairs in a room facing each other.
I want you to sit in one chair and talk to your future self. Tell them about all your hopes and fears. Tell them how you believe you can do certain things and how you are scared to do others. Be honest. If you feel useless and afraid, tell them. Be brutally honest with them and don’t hold anything back.
I want you to express everything you want and need and fear about the unknown future and your present day situation. Tell them about the things you hate in your life and the things you love and are grateful for. This is your opportunity to let it all out. Make sure that you express yourself with “I” statements. “I feel this and I’m afraid of that or I’m too stupid to…” You need to be honest with the person you’re talking to. You can’t put any blame on future you, because that person is the result of past decisions.
When you’re done, take a few deep breaths, wipe your tears, blow your nose and go have a drink of water. Walk over to a window and look outside for a minute or two. Then come back and sit down in the other chair.
Before you respond to everything you’ve just heard, I want you to think about it seriously. I want you to treat “present you” with the same respect you would give your best friend, your child. If everything you just heard came out of your child’s mouth (if you don’t have children you can imagine) what would you say to that person? Would you mock them and tell them they’re a loser? Or would you encourage them?
After a moment of reflection, I want you to lean in and tell the person in the other chair what they are truly capable of. Tell them how much you believe in them and that you’ll stand by their side through thick and thin.
Again it’s important that you don’t hold back. This person needs your help and needs to hear that someone out there believes in them. Be that person.
When you are responding to your younger self, make sure to use your name. Don’t just say “you can do this or that”, you need to say “Bill, you’re not giving yourself enough credit.” or “Susan, here’s a list of all the things you have accomplished.”
It’s so important that you talk to this person and use their name. You’re talking to a real person and you need to acknowledge that.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to give someone good advice? Have you also noticed that it’s easier to take other people’s advice? By using your name when responding your brain is listening in a different way.
SIDE NOTE: If you want to read an article about the science of talking to yourself in the third person and why it is beneficial here it is and feel free to do more research on the topic.
Whenever you’re feeling down or you think that you can’t do something, feel free to set up a couple of chairs and have a talk with your future self. Trust me, they want the best for you and they’ll appreciate the steps you are taking to make their lives better and in the end, you’ll appreciate it too. After all, it’s you.
Use this technique when you’re working out your plans. When ever you feel that you may be dreaming “too big”, sit yourself down and help yourself out. You’ll be amazed at how much your future self is ready and willing to help you with great advice and cheerleading.