Just imagine your future self is your best friend and you instantly have this powerful perspective - and a new best friend!
Science tells us that we think tasks will be easier in the future because of the effect of discounting. This is where we perceive the costs and benefits of events in the future as relatively less significant than those in the present.
Although it’s quite pleasant to have rose-tinted glasses about what’s coming our way, this just isn’t realistic.
Generally speaking, we won’t have significantly more time, or more motivation in the days and weeks to come, unless we do something – however tiny – now, to help our future selves. It therefore makes sense to deepen that relationship.
How? By choosing two ideal gifts that person would love to receive!
Gift No. 1
Imagine how you will be tomorrow and picture your future self. How does that person look? What are they be wearing? How do they feel? What is on their mind?
Think carefully about how you can enrich their life and/or reduce the effect of any struggles they are facing.
If you identify anxiety, drill down. What do you think is causing that? If it’s perhaps a last-minute panic, think about doing something tiny today to help out.
If you can foresee tomorrow as a day without structure, think about jotting down some to-dos now to give your best friend somewhere to start their day.
If you identify rumination, see if you can notice any unfiltered comments today and forgive yourself immediately so they won’t worry your friend.
Think about the helpful quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Is your friend well-fed, hydrated and rested? What will help them most?
Perhaps they are still mulling over something which would have been much easier to deal with right now.
Or maybe they're searching high and low for something you haven’t tidied away yet?!...
Gift No. 2
Once this rather novel way of thinking becomes a little more familiar, extend your time-frame and fix your focus on your longer-term future self as well. It might even feel more realistic if you use an image-modifying app to age a picture of yourself, horrifying though that sounds!
Tomorrow’s me (roughly speaking)
and in ten years' time (fortunately I adore the relative I hope to resemble!)...
Whether you decide on six months, a year, five years or even ten years, ask yourself:
What do you hope your best friend is feeling?
A sense of belonging?
A sense of accomplishment?
What other feelings do you wish for them?
What do you sincerely hope they won’t be experiencing?
Base your second gift on bolstering those hopes and mitigating the fears. This might be as simple as:
Booking a break to give them a treat
Setting up a log of any wishful research you do so they can refer to it and pick up your thread
Learning in very short sessions how to be mindful to gift them calming skills
Finding a music teacher for them if you know they’d love to play an instrument
or perhaps buying some UV-protection!…
Try to make choosing these two gifts, one to tomorrow’s self, and one to your older future self, as simple as possible so it easily becomes a fun, daily habit.
Enjoy the process, but don’t forget to thank your past self when the time comes!