We start our days like we set our goals; with the best of intentions. We’re going to forgo the doughnuts in the breakroom, we’ll surely go to yoga after work, and we have a healthy recipe for dinner bookmarked in our favorite cookbook.
However, when the time comes to make that decision; pass by the doughnut or pick your favorite, head to yoga or head home, begin chopping or order take-out, sometimes the feel-good-in-the-moment choice wins. It’s a battle everyone faces; feel good and have fun now, or stick to your guns and feel good about it later.
What usually helps is an introduction to your future self. No matter what your goals are – healthier eating, improved sleep, muscle gain, etc. – having a clear picture of you achieving them greatly increases your chance of success. Envisioning yourself at your goal is an extremely powerful motivator that can help you stay the course.
Here’s an exercise to try:
Sit quietly, eyes closed, for a few moments and envision your day to day life at your goal. If your goal is making healthier choices when you eat out, picture this version of you sitting at your favorite restaurant, looking over the menu. Instead of caving for the side of fries, envision ordering that healthy meal you always think you should order, then eating and enjoying it. Picture yourself feeling satisfied with your choice of grilled salmon, brown rice and veggies, instead of stuffed and upset after eating your usual order of chicken parm and fries.
Or how about a fitness goal? Like getting in better shape to more easily keep up with your athletic friends. Picture a day that you hike with these friends without having to stop and rest. Picture a you that says, “yes” to a local 5K without hesitation. What does this life look like? How does this future you feel when she gets up in the morning?
A solid vision of your future self makes it easier to connect your choices today, to the you who benefits from them tomorrow.
Here’s one more exercise to try out:
With the future you in mind, write a description of her day, draw a sketch of her priorities, write her a letter, whatever you need to do to make this future version of you real. Then, when decisions arise, think of her as a real person who will benefit or be left to deal with the result of that choice. Are you helping her, or making it harder for her to reach her goals?
The temptation towards actions that sway from your goal will always be there, so learning to meet them head on and make those choices that get you to your goal – whatever they are – is critical. Use this picture of the future you to help makes those decisions easier. To help you reach the goal lifestyle you’re working towards, connect with that person living it. Do the thing she would do, the thing she would thank you for.