“Future You,” also described for conversation as “Future Me” is a mindset and visualization very important and beneficial to consider in exercising sound judgment, making decisions, exhibiting self control, taking calculated risks and persevering.
The practice is described by Amie Devero, an executive and personal coach and management consultant at Amie Devero Coaching and Consulting, this way, “we are still paying for or benefiting from things we did long ago. Instead of deluding ourselves into thinking we will be the same in a year, we can embrace the march of time by thinking of ourselves as two people: ‘Present Me’ and ‘Future Me.’”
Devero explains why this is both a waymaker in life and Risk Management 101.
“Every decision that ‘Present Me’ makes will have (outcomes) for ‘Future Me.’ Some will be positive, like when I save money and ‘Future Me’ can afford a new car; some will be negative, like when I stop working out and ‘Future Me’ has to take blood pressure medication. In today’s pandemic, ‘Present You’ likely misses being out with people and socializing but that awesome beach party may seem like a terrible choice if ‘Future You’ ends up in the hospital on a ventilator,” she says.
This understanding brings to mind a realization for respect for our lives (and the ones for people around us) down the line.
“Maybe ‘Present Me’ should take some responsibility for what she (or he) is doing to ‘Future Me,’” Devero says.
If this isn’t done, serious disappointment and suffering could become the result.
“Looking backwards it’s obvious that we are a different person now than we were then but we’re stuck with the results of those earlier actions. Often, they feel like actions taken by a stranger, because that’s not who we are anymore,” Devero says.
The benefits however of consistently keeping at the forefront of our thinking ‘Future Me,’ can be significant and alluring.
“If we can successfully view ourselves through the lens of ‘Present Me’ and ‘Future Me,’ we can make choices that will work out better for ourselves in that future reality. Those choices can be as superficial as deciding whether or not to swipe right, or as consequential as considering how ‘Future You’ will feel about having stayed in this miserable job. Each fork in the road will have an (outcome), and many of them can be foreseen,” she says.
“If you begin to think of ‘Future You’ as someone you will meet, someone who will pay for your choices today and ask you about them, you will gain power over the mindless behaviors that eventually displace fulfilling your goals.”
The effective practice of “Future You” also can protect reputations and prevent damages from reckless or arrogant decision making.
“Often, our tempers or spontaneous behaviors lead to terrible consequences for our future selves. The one-night stand that seems so alluring on Friday night can lead to ‘Future You’ being accused of sexual harassment. The same can be said of making choices that lead to crises or PR (public relations) nightmares,” Devero says.
Business leaders don’t always consider this in their thinking, she says.
“‘Present You’ gets offered a great deal on a part for the product you manufacture. In order to get the deal done, you forgo the normal quality check. But ‘Future You’ could pay for that decision by having to recall a product, causing stocks to dive and ruining the company’s reputation. ‘Was it worth it,’ ‘Future You’ will ask. The reality of consequences that we, ourselves, will pay is rarely in our consciousness as we make poor choices. But, they should be,” Devero says.
Her takeaway recommendations to implement and practice this strategy is a three-point plan.
Become a time traveler: Whenever you are at a crossroads or struggling with a decision, do a mental experiment. Ask how this will look from the vantage point of ‘Future You.’
Craft a future history for yourself: Goal-setting is one thing, but instead of just listing accomplishments, write a story of your life backwards from say, five years out. Who will you be, what will you have accomplished and what new abilities will you have?
Use that backwards story as the narrative when you think about consequences of your current actions. Is this choice going to slow down or derail the whole story?
Talk to ‘Future You’ regularly: Think about how you want your health, body, bank account, marriage, job and home to look in a year.
Then, have an imaginary conversation with ‘Future You’ and promise him (or her) that (they) will get that reality. To ensure you keep your promise, scrutinize what actions, habits or behaviors you would need to have right now. Then, use those promises to guide you in your decisions.
At each moment of choice, ask how it will impact that reality of ‘Future You,’ and what he (or she) would have to say about it.
‘Future You’ will tell you whether or not to continue on that path or take a different one.
Actions always have (outcomes) and usually they are consequences for ‘Future You.’ Start creating a rich relationship with ‘Future You.’ It will guide you to make the right choices now.