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  • Writer's pictureEdwin and George

2024 – Here’s How to Build a Brilliant Future Self

EGM On A Mission: Let’s Build Better Companies

 

“You need to practice being your future self.” (HBR article title 28 March 2016)

“The majority let their past drive their present. But true growth happens when you let your future drive your present.” (Ben Hardy, author)

 

‘Your future self. How to make tomorrow better today.’ (Title of book by Hal Hershfield)


Many of us when we talk about ourselves start from a pretty powerless position.


• We might talk about our past and its impact.

• We might make excuses about how we got to be the person we are today.

• We might even blame our previous employer for the opportunities that didn’t come our way.


But research has identified a better approach.


• Develop a strong and well-defined image of the (improved) person you will be at some point in the future(say 1 or 2 years) – and then start behaving, acting, and speaking like that person.


Move towards your future self. The improved person you’re going to be.

Your present is then driven by the optimism of the future and not the things that happened in the past.


Starting Point


Clarify – develop a detailed vision of the person you’re going to be at some point in the future – career, health, family, relationships, financial.


Aim high – set yourself a massive, compelling vision. Something to really aim for that might even seem impossible (see our blog ‘Setting yourself goals for 2024? Try this one thing’ where we discuss the case for setting huge, as opposed to incremental goals.)


Visualise- what will life be like when you achieve your vision?


Iterate – use your vision as a starting point. A stake in the ground. Things change quickly. Don’t be afraid to tweak your vision as new information comes to hand.


Getting closer to your future self


Take action – start by concentrating on the 20 per cent of things you’re doing now that will drive you towards your future self. If you want to write a book, write more. Mix with other writers and start doing the things they do. Define a high-level approach – then map out the detail as you get closer to each action point.


Commit 100 per cent – the Latin root of the word ‘decision’ is to ‘rule out all other options.’ When deciding to take an action, commit 100 per cent. It’s easier in the long run to takethe short-term pain of committing 100 per cent, than constantly restarting again. Basketball player Michael Jordan said, ‘when I take a decision, I never go back on it.’ (Ben Hardy, Ted Talk)


Eliminate – the 80 per cent of the things you’re doing that either don’t drive you towards your vision, or take you backwards. If you need to complete a professional qualification, you might start reducing time on social media and watching Netflix, for example.


Change the way you take decisions – when faced with a choice ask yourself ‘what would my future self do?’ If your vision includes completing a marathon, you’ll probably be advised to choose spending the evening going for that run instead of sitting on the sofa.


Make a financial investment – research (not surprisingly) shows that making a financial investment can be an effective way of moving you closer to your vision. (In his Ted Talk, Ben Hardy discusses the case of two young entrepreneurs who had a dream to set up an online business selling shoes. They clubbed together their life savings and ordered a consignment of shoes. As a mountain of shoes was delivered, they knew they had no option but to become the businessmen they had dreamt of becoming. They couldn’t send the shoes back or afford to lose the money.)


Send yourself a letter – ‘dear future me’ letters have gained popularity in the US. A number of ‘future me’ web sites have sprung up. Individuals draft letters to themselves at defined points in the future (6, 9, 12, 24 months.) The letters say whatthey hope their life will be like at each point.


Send a letter from your future self - a ‘Zander letter.’ Named after an academic. At the start of each course, the teacher got his students to write a letter from their future selves at the end of course to their present selves. The letters explained how they came top of the class, what this felt like and the actions they took to achieve the best grades.


Stop jeopardising your future self – too many of us takesaction today that is harmful to our future selves. We eat the wrong food and spend money on things we don’t need. There’s a detailed discussion on why we do this in Hal Hershfield’s book (see above), including why we make commitments now for our future selves that we later regret. (The ‘Yes/ Dam effect).


Meet the future you – if all else fails, software exists where you can produce mock images of what you’ll look like in the future, based on photos of you today.

Perhaps there’ll be something here that drives you to think about your future self?


Finally.

Ther’s an old Saturday Night Live sketch.

Three young men are sitting in the staff room at work.


Suddenly the room shakes, there’s a flash and three older men appear.


‘We’re your future selves,’ says one of the older men. ‘We have a grave warning. Unless you act now about climate change, you’re doomed. You need to act now to avoid extinction.’


‘Wow, our future sleeves’ exclaims one of the young men.

‘What will my future be like?’ he asks. ‘Will I be rich?

His future self looks to the floor. ‘Sorry, I’m in a lot of debt.’

‘But what about my family life?’ asks the young man.

‘His future self looks at the floor again. ‘Sorry, I just went through a messy divorce,’ he says. ‘But listen, about the climate change….’


The young man stops him.

‘If you’re what I’m working towards,’ says the young man, ‘I’m not that bothered about the climate change to be honest.’


(From Hal Hershfield’s book – see above).

 

Will 2024 be the year you develop a brilliant future self?

 

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