The Future Self concept is simple but rarely applied. To make quality decisions, you need to know where those decisions will take you. Decisions and actions are best when reverse engineered from a desired outcome. Start with what you want and work backwards. think and do by your goal, rather than toward your goal. Your brain does this automatically. Neuroscientists now agree that the brain is essentially a ‘prediction machine’, guiding behavior into the expected future. Learning is the process of updating and improving our brain’s predictions.
The clearer you are about where you want to go, the less you are distracted by endless options. When you are disconnected from your Future Self, you get caught up in urgent goals that often result in low-quality behavior in the present. This is the norm for the majority.
Being disconnected from our future selves, we choose near-immediate goals or dopamine hits. This short-term seeking is costing our Future Self a lot of money. As Harvard psychologist and Future Self researcher, Dr. Daniel Gilbert, asked, “Why do we make decisions that our Future Selves will regret?”
This brings up a counterintuitive but important truth: the more connected you are to your Future Self, the better you live in the present.
Author and philosopher, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, said, “Mental creation always precedes physical creation.” Anyone who has created something substantial has done so by first seeing it in the mind and then working towards the image. As they took steps forward, their vision was clarified, expanded and evolved.
Even the Bible describes, “Faith is the essence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Whoever you are, right now is proof of your Future Self. Your level of trust and commitment to your Future Self is evidenced by everything you do and every thought you think.
Once you’re clear and committed, everything will filter through your target—what psychologists call selective attention.
You see what you are looking for.
You see what you care about.
What you focus on expands.
The father of American psychology, William James, put it this way:
Millions of things of the outer order are present to my senses that never enter my experience properly. Why? Because they are not interested in me. My experience is what I agree with.
Not only do you see what you’re looking for, but you act on what you want most and decided that it will be yours.
Faith is a principle of action and power.
By faith you can move mountains, put a man on the moon, make millions, and heal impossible ills. To exercise this level of faith, you must form a vision of what you want. In the words of the American author Florence Shinn, “you already know received and act upon it.”
• Know that everything you want is already yours.
• Act as if anything you want can and will be yours.
The truth is, we’re all doing this now. The challenge is to sharpen the future we envision. We are driven by our vision of the future.
Why That certain future, the future you are currently committed to?
What if you choose something else?
What if you are committed to what you really want?
If you are 100 percent committed to what you want and know that the end result is already yours, there will be a growing body of evidence about the future you are creating. You stop associating pain with the work and changes necessary for your goals. Instead, you will associate pain with not making progress toward your dreams.
You’ll associate pain with the short-lived dopamine hits that were once your escape.
You will be much braver.
You develop mentorships and collaborations with like-minded people.
Your thinking, beliefs and mental models will change and you will see the world very differently from your former self.
Your results will improve. As leadership experts Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman and Kaley Klemp put it:
Commitment is a statement of what ‘is’. You can know what you’re committing to from your results, not what you say your commitments are. We are all committed. We all get results. The result is proof of a commitment.
Your behavior will change because your identity has changed.
Your identity is what you are most committed to.
Your identity is based on the vision you have for yourself. When you change your committed vision, your identity immediately changes, which in turn immediately changes the flow of your thoughts and behavior.
Yes, it takes courage to fully embrace your Future Self. Yes, sometimes it takes longer than you expected.
Yes, there will be obstacles.
But if you’re committed, anything you encounter along the way will only better prepare you for what you really want. Everything that comes your way will strengthen your determination.
You will be able to turn any experience to your advantage, take you further and develop further than you could initially imagine. If you are 100 percent committed and confident, you will find the way. There is always a way. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “When you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
Excerpt reprinted with permission from Be your future self now by dr. Benjamin Hardy (Hay House; June 14, 2022)