“Do something today that your future self will thank you for” – Anonymous
Many people have immersed themselves in a professional development process with the goal to discover a whole new level of skills in personal transformation, and how to help others make significant changes. This opens up a way to make personal growth a disciplined part of how one manages their life. In short, this process changes people forever.
In my own experiences, the doorway of personal transformation was opened wide by one question that I asked myself. It was one of the better personal development questions I have learnt over the years and one that continues to help me make the most of any year.
The question was: If I met my future self, what would they thank me for?
What a great question right?
Personal development is all about who you want to become. Your doing flows from your being, or let me say if you know the WHY then the HOW becomes clearer. This principle works across many aspects of life professionally, personally, spiritually and relationally. Deciding who you want to become is the precursor to action. Alice in Wonderland didn’t really know where she wanted to end up and was reliably informed that it didn’t, therefore matter which way she went. When you don’t know who you want to be it doesn’t much matter, the pathway you take. When you do the level of focus, intentionality and drive go up immeasurably.
This question can help you plan your next year in three major ways.
Firstly, it helps define who you want to BE at the end. When you have a clear destination, you can begin to move with intentionality towards it. When you can ‘look out the window’ and define the future, you are creating a blueprint, for your future. Stephen Covey talks about ‘all things being created twice’ THIS IS THE FIRST CREATION. The mental image of who you want to be; the creation of what could be. The privilege of dreaming and planning about who you could be becomes the plan you follow from now until then. All purposeful journeys have clear destinations.
Secondly, it creates a clear framework for the allocation of resources. Go back to the question. What do you need to do for the future you to say thank you, I’m pleased to meet you? When you know who you want to be, you can decide how much time needs to be allocated to this endeavour. This could range from a number of objectives such as to develop a significant relationship with a significant person in your life, a bodyweight goal, an investment. Knowing that, makes it clearer for you to know what your next week needs to look like to be consistently engaged with your objective. Because you know, you want that to be true of yourself; you begin to make the time to make it real. You allocate the resources to your stated priority.
Consider your health; your learning; a specific skill set. A goal you’d like to reach. When you know the destination, and have a clear mental creation, you are empowered to work backwards from that chance meeting on the street, and spend the time, the money and the energy to become that person.
Lastly, it helps you say NO to good things with confidence. I truly believe that great success comes more from what we say no to, rather than what we say yes to. Yes is easy. Yes adds to the activity but may not be fulfilling or even purposeful. Every leader I know is aware of the feeling immediately following saying yes to the wrong priority or even the wrong appointment. Say no more often and yes more slowly in the coming months. The impact on your focus, productivity and mental clutter will blow your mind. Knowing who you want to ‘bump into’ at the end of next year is the north star of prioritisation.
Ruthlessly hold that picture of the future up high and evaluate every activity, every decision, every expense and every commitment in before it. Don’t be afraid to say no because you’ve already said yes. Remember, you want to meet the you, who is delighted to meet you. No, will get you there. Unless you have a clear destination for the you, you want to be, any which way will get you there.
QUESTION: How do you most effectively work out who you want to BECOME? We’d love you to share your thoughts in the comments section, please.