Owning your future self can take you on to a happier, higher path, says NONA WALIA

We are work in progress. The person you are right now is temporary. Take a moment to imagine who you will be in 10 years. Ask yourself if you have a ‘future self’ strategy. Does the person you imagine yourself to be feel similar to the person you are today? Or does that person feel like a stranger? Many people imagine that their future self is a continuation of the person that they are today. Instead, think of your future self as a relationship to be nurtured.

Recently, I completed an online course on Coursera called, Simulation Skills: This is Your Brain on the Future by Institute for the Future. I was fascinated by the syllabus; the first class is all about who will YOU be in the future? What will YOU feel in the future? What will YOU do in the future? In the third week, you play with a future of multiple possibilities.

In the end, rather than thinking of a dead-end, you have multiple options of how your future life and future self should be like. It opened up a world of new possibilities, and showed me scientific ways to think and envision a new me in the future.

In his TED talk, The Psychology of Your Future Self, Harvard social psychologist Dr Daniel Gilbert explains, “We tend to think that the person we are today is the person we will always be. Most people when asked if they are the same person they were 10 years ago, will say no — but we have a much harder time seeing potential for change in the future.” Despite awareness that our past self is clearly different than our present self, we tend to think that who we are right now is the “real” and “finished” version of ourselves, and our future self will be basically the same as who we are today. This notion is wrong.

Nona Walia

Slowly, begin doing little things for your future self every day once you have decided how you perceive yourself to be. Author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote an article, ‘Do a Nice Thing For Your Future Self’, in which she asks, “But what about the person you will become in a week? Or a month? Or a year? What about that innocent stranger? What did she ever do that was so wrong? What if every single day you tried to think of one nice gift you could offer her—something that might make her feel welcome and safe and loved when she finally shows up?”

A recently published study that spanned more than 60 years found that the personalities of nearly all participants were

completely different than they had been 60 years prior. Coursera’s course on Simulation Skills: This is Your Brain on the Future by Institute for the Future, is for those who want to learn how to simulate the future more creatively.   

Working on future goals can be tedious. But you can always make it fun and doable. Researcher Hal Hershfield had to find a way to measure someone’s “future self-continuity”. Yes, it’s measureable. In 2020, Hershfield confirmed that someone’s (in)ability to identify with their future self can have long-term consequences for their overall wellbeing.

Once your future self becomes alive in your mind, you may find it much easier to make the small personal sacrifices that are essential to preserve and enhance your wellbeing.

It’s time to start conversations with your imagined future self!

Here’s how you can work on your future self:

Differentiate your past, current, and future selves

Don’t think too much about your present self. We tend to cling to our current identities. Train yourself to see even short-term change in yourself, measuring progress on a weekly, monthly basis.

Imagine Your Desired Future Self

Imagine who you would like to be 10 years from now. Research has shown that shaping your future self requires “deliberate practice.” Indulge in extreme positivity when thinking about your future self. Don’t imagine from a space of ‘pessimism or negativity’.

Start acting like your future self

Never be defined by “now.” Engage in deliberate practice so that over time, you’ll grow into your own ever-evolving story.

Start behaving different

Your future self sees the world differently than you do, so start behaving like that person. What does your own “next level” look like?

Start using future-based language

Use strong, powerful and positive words for yourself.  

Nona Walia is a successful journalist and writer, who is also a motivational expert, passionate about helping people to live their best life. She likes to describe herself both as a Wellness Warrior and Wellness Blogger, who has done a certified online course on the ‘Science of Well-Being’ from Yale University. Nona Walia runs her own Wellness Channel on Youtube. She has worked with the Times of India for 24 years as Senior Assistant Editor. She is also an author for Thrive GlobalShe is the author of The Art of Mental Toughness. 

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