Lifestyle

Who Do You Want to Be? How to Shape Your Future Starting Today

I just read a great article in Psychology Today titled Reinvent Yourself, and it brought up some really interesting points on how to shape your future by focusing more on your future self. As you’ve read in past posts, I am currently (still) working on my own reinvention, and it’s easy to feel discouraged when things aren’t moving as quickly in a certain direction as you’d like – or when there is no clear direction at all. The key is having clear long-term goals and doing something daily that contributes to getting you closer to them. How do you develop these goals? Project yourself deep into the future and ask: What will I regret not having done?

Once you are clear on this vision, here are some pointers to shape your future and yourself into what you imagine:

Align your goals with your values

One key to reinvention that experts point to is finding agreement between what really matters to us and the goals that we chase. Sure we want that promotion or a particular status, but will it align with our core values? Researchers have found that “people who are intrinsically motivated – working towards things they find personally fulfilling – are less depressed and more satisfied with their lives than those who are extrinsically motivated, striving primarily to impress the outside world with a big paycheck or lofty job title.” Do you want to reevaluate your long term goals now?

Be realistic 

Another one of our problems is that we tend to underestimate the effort that change requires and the toll it will take on us. When we think about the promotion we have as a goal, we imagine the status and money as opposed to the increased hours and stress. We fantasize about the victories as opposed to all of the practice it will take to get there. One solution to this is to find those who have already achieved your dreams who can share the reality of getting there with you. Another trick to keep us from being tempted by immediate gratification instead of long-term payoffs is to picture your future self – the mom, the world traveler, the retiree who runs marathons and vacations in Maui. This visualization technique can get you to care more about your future self and make better decisions in the now.

Create new habits

Experts stress the importance of creating new and constructive habits that will take you out of present routine thats standing in the way of your reinvention. When you break down your long term plan into actions you can do every day, you’ll end up integrating work towards long-term goals into your present. Try joining a community of like-minded people who have the same goal to increase your engagement in it and to gain access to their knowledge and experience. Seek ways to track your accomplishments as you go, like a diary where you record what steps you’ve taken  and how they brought you closer to achievement to help maintain your motivation. 

Know when to give up the dream

Sometimes it’s in our best interest to give up long-term goals that aren’t working for us. Since humans are hard-wired to persist, we may think that theres shame in giving up – but avoiding this short-term embarrassment could get in the way of our long-term happiness. If a goal is no longer in line with who you want to become or if it no longer makes you happy, closing doors will lead you to the right opportunity. Don’t worry about the time, money or effort you’ve invested in a goal – your concern should be whether untapped resources will also be spent unproductively. We are allowed to change our minds, change our directions and change our goals – this is proof that we’re constantly growing.

Why wait to reinvent yourself? Begin shaping your future now – it’s just as difficult and worthwhile as you would think.

 

3 Comments

  1. I like your tip about visualizing yourself achieving your goals and living the life you dream about. That can be a powerful motivator to help you get through the tough times.

    • Ya I agree Mike – we never take the time to associate to our future selves, and that can be a roadblock to being proactive about long-term goals. I’m definitely imagining grandma ashley the next time I decide to skimp on retirement contributions!

  2. The documentary, Finding Joe provides many insights along these lines. I highly recommend it.

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