The Better You Know Your ‘Future Self’ The Better Off You’ll Be (according to research)
Think about your life right now, and then think about how you want your life to be in the future.
I’m not just talking about financial or workplace success (although you can consider that, too). I’m referring to your whole life.
If you have health, fitness, or physique goals, what does your future self look like? How is her mindset? How is her relationship with food?
Is that future, ideal self a total stranger to you?
Or do you feel like who you are becoming right now is exactly that ideal future self?
Become Your Best Self [ASSESSMENT]
Here’s an exercise I want you to try.
After you’ve thought about your current and future self, look at the chart below and choose a pair of circles that you feel represents that relationship.
In other words, how similar is your current self to what you want your future self to look like?
The amount your circles overlap represents how attached you feel to your future self. This is also known as “future self continuity” (Hershfield, 2011).
We know from neurological studies that when thinking about our future selves, our brains “light up” in areas in a similar way to when we are thinking about other people.
And neural activity is in a different area when thinking about our current selves.
But this differentiation varies between people.
Circle overlap determines how similar your brain activity is when thinking about you right now versus the future you.
How Your Thoughts Impact Your Future
So why should you care about how your brain lights up when you think about your future self?
It’s simple. The more your circles overlap, the more likely you are to act based on long-term goals rather than instant gratification.
When there is a sense of similarity and familiarity between your current and future selves, you’re less likely to cheat, lie, and not follow through on promises (Hershfield et al., 2012).
You also have increased patience with financial decision-making (Bartels & Urminsky, 2011), and you’re likely to report being more physically and mentally healthy (Rutchick, 2018).
For example, Rutchick (2018) found that people were 1.43 times more likely to exercise after writing a letter to themselves 20 years in the future than those who wrote a letter to their “in 3 months self.”
Create a Better Future for Yourself
This isn’t just a fun personality quiz. It’s psychological and neurological science with behavioral evidence.
Worried you don’t have enough overlap between your current and future self “circles”?
Here’s an exercise for you to work through:
First, imagine the future (not your success, just you in a random future situation).
What can you tell your future self that you will do right now to start helping them out?
Consider what your future self would thank your current self for.
If there are some things in your life that you want to change to help out your future self, picture yourself changing or not changing.
How do you feel? How does your life look?
Once you’ve figured out what kind of changes you want to make in your life, you can start taking steps to get to your ideal future self.
Figure out what steps you need to take, then get started because the sooner you start, the sooner those circles will overlap.
At KJO Coaching, we love helping women build a stronger body and mind through fitness coaching, and we do that because we teach our clients a lot more than how to eat and train to achieve their fitness goals.
We teach the women we work with how to embrace a growth mindset and deal with stressful situations. And, perhaps most importantly, we teach them how to get closer to their ideal future selves without having to work with a coach for the rest of their lives.
That’s right. We don’t want you to rely on us forever.
We want to teach you the skills you need so you can confidently navigate your nutrition, fitness, and wellness without a coach.
Click here if you want to learn more about working with our stellar team!
You can also sign up for my FREE 5-Day Self Sabotage workshop series HERE! Because the truth is the reason we’re not currently doing things that benefit our future selves is typically BECAUSE of ourselves. If you’re holding yourself back and falling prey to self-sabotage, this free workshop series is for you.
Check out my original post here.
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Bartels, D. M., & Urminsky, O. (2011). On intertemporal selfishness: How the perceived instability of identity underlies impatient consumption. Journal of consumer research, 38(1), 182-198.
Hershfield, H. E. (2011). Future self‐continuity: How conceptions of the future self transform intertemporal choice. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1235(1), 30-43.
Hershfield, H. E., Cohen, T. R., & Thompson, L. (2012). Short horizons and tempting situations: Lack of continuity to our future selves leads to unethical decision making and behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 117(2), 298-310.