Talk to Your Future Self

I was really excited to come across this article in NY Magazine last month. It provides a look into personal motivation and discusses in fascinating detail what it really means to tell yourself what to do. And it describes some of the science behind one of the most-commonly-used concepts in my coaching practice: the Future Self.

I talk with my clients about the Future Self in nearly every session. Often, I encourage my client to ask his or her future self for advice, or for feedback on an action or decision. And I know, because I’ve done it myself, how profound this can feel—and how abstract it can sound, particularly at the beginning of a coaching relationship.

According to the article, “your brain seems to consider your future self to be almost unknowable—a stranger, essentially.” As I read that, I realized how unusual it is to have a strong sense of one’s own future self—and how much of a gift it is to offer that awareness to my clients. In my practice, it is an incredibly effective tool—one that helps my clients “better control their thoughts, feelings, and behavior.”

As someone who has received this gift, I have a vision of my future self. Having that vision helps me consider options, reflect on my behavior, and improve my relationships. (Mind you, I am not currently my future self. Sometimes, on a good day, I am a bit like her. Most of the work I do to improve myself makes me a bit more like her. She is wiser, more compassionate, and generally awesomer than I am. She’s my inspiration to improve.)

What I most appreciate about the concept of the Future Self is that anyone can use it. Anyone can consider that mysterious being, that stranger, that person they want to become. And by developing a relationship with your own future self, you can gain control over situations you had imagined were out of your control.

It feels like magic. Turns out, it’s also science.