Become your Future Self
We often feel stuck in our careers and feel like we are spinning our wheels and getting nowhere fast. I know this because it happens to me…. all the time. There are times when I need to feel a little bit sorry for myself and blame the fact that I haven’t gotten that promotion or that great project (at least I thought it was a great project) on someone or something outside of myself. In fact, it’s no one’s fault. It’s my fault. Yep…. totally my fault if I’m not ready to be the person I want to eventually be.
Where you are is the sum of what you have worked on in the past. So, it’s only right to assume that where you will be in the future will be the sum of your efforts today.
I will give you an example. Sally (not a real person or maybe she is) wants to be a writer. She makes a goal for herself to write and publish a book. She reads all about writing, how to do it, how to organize it and how to get it published. These are all good things but the first thing Sally should be focused on is to actually write the book. It’s not easy. Sally has never written anything more involved than a but a few essays for school and reports and legal summaries at work. She has a full time job and by the time she gets home she’s too tired to write anything worth reading. So she doesn’t. Instead she reads about writing. A few years go by and Sally has no book. She doesn’t even have a chapter of the book written. Sure she’s written a few pages. That one scene she wrote when she was super motivated after watching that one interview with one of her favorite authors. It’s not good but at least it’s something. Yet, a scene does not a book make. The next year Sally has the same goal. To be a published author. This goes on for many years and eventually Sally is so discouraged for not having written the book that she gives up and decides that it’s not what she wants to do after all.
I have felt like Sally on many occasions. I’m sure you have also. We all have. So what is the trick? Why are some people able to achieve their dreams and others aren’t? Well, the reason, I have learned, is that they put themselves in the shoes of their future selves. They do what their future self will be doing. What about the stuff that their present selves need to get done? what about if I have to go to work and don’t have time to write, or practice the piano because I’m so tired? or don’t have time to learn a new skill so that I can start my own business? My answer to that is that there is always time. There are people who do it so why can’t you? And those things that you HAVE to do today will still be there in a few minutes or a few hours after you finish what your future self needs to get done today.
We all have the same amount of time per day. Some people manage to work a full time job and start a new business. Some people manage to have a full time job and write books at the same time. Are they magical? Nope. They have figured out what their future self will be doing and so they find those little bits of time when they can practice being their future self. They write as if they are already writers when they have a break…. at lunch. They wake up an hour or two earlier and write before going to work. There is always a way…. at least that’s what I’ve been told.
Telling yourself that you have so many other things to do is a trick you play on yourself. You don’t want to do the hard stuff, the stuff you are not very good at yet. Your brain knows that you are afraid of will happen…… you’ll get frustrated and angry because you are not awesome at it, other people will laugh at you….. so, your brain comes to the rescue. Your brain is set up to protect you from harm and when it senses that there is “harm” it starts coming up with ways to bring you to a safe place. My brain has done this to me on many occasions. What if I told you that I AM Sally?????? I waste so much time on YouTube and email and Facebook. I tell myself it’s research or I have to check email because there may be something there that needs my attention, or I check Facebook because my family who is out of the country may be trying to get in touch with me and that’s how I keep in touch with them….. you may different reasons. We all have them.
Doing something for the first time is scary. The only way to stop it from scaring you is to work on it a little bit at a time. Learn concepts, stay with the discomfort until you feel comfortable. Put yourself in the shoes of your future self when this new thing you started today will be second nature to you. Sooner than you think you will be so good at it, you won’t even remember what it was like when you weren’t. Then, it’s time to focus on another future self.
If you want to grow you have to become your future self. The present self is already awesome.
See you in my next post