The Big Idea
Keep your future self in mind.
Questions I Answer
- How do I figure out my purpose?
- What is your future self?
- How can I start with the end if I’m not sure what I want?
- How do I set the right goals for me?
Actions to Take
- Keep in mind the decisions you make today & how they ultimately shape the life of your future self. Think about your virtues and those values and how they impact who you want to be. Remember, anytime you want to reverse engineer a plan to reach a goal or a dream you have, start with the end in mind to help you map out a plan and a possible path to get you from here to that end result. Envision your future self and pursue your goals and dreams.
Key Topics in the Show
Thinking about your future self to help identify your path
Setting yourself up for success in the future with the decisions you’re making today
Keeping your virtues & values in mind when imagining your future self
2 types of virtues and how they can help you determine who you want to be
Resources and Links
- Watch my TanyaTV video, How To Plan Your Month For Success
Welcome to season nine of Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton, a podcast focused on using productivity, not just to do more, but to achieve what’s most important to you. Join Tanya has she kicks off the New Year with a special season titled, New Year True You. To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast. And now here’s your host Tanya Dalton.
Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host Tanya Dalton and this is episode 107. Today’s podcast episode has been brought to you by FreshBooks. If you want to take the stress out of running your own business or you need a way to streamline your finances, check out FreshBooks. Right now they’re offering a free 30 day unrestricted trial for all of my listeners, so stay tuned because I’ll be sharing all the details a little bit later in the episode.
Let’s go ahead and dive into today’s episode because last week in our last episode we talked about how you can uncover what you’re truly passionate about, why you should pursue those passions and how to make time for them. So I really hope you’ve been working on figuring out how to carve out some time for those things that really matter to you. Now as you know, all season we’re talking about New Year, True You, really working towards becoming that best version of yourself, but what if you don’t know what that looks like?
Well, today I’ve got you covered. We’re talking about defining who you want to be. We’re going to talk about future thinking and how you can envision your future self to help you define who you want to be and where you want to go in life. We’ll also be talking about some virtues and values and I have a great download to help you figure out who it is you want to be. Now, I know, this could really be a wide open topic. Who do you want to be?
It’s a big question. I mean, many of us are not sure how to answer that. In fact, you might be thinking okay, let’s slow down just a little bit, Tanya. Last week we’re exploring how to find our passions and now you want me to tell you who I want to be? Don’t worry, it’s kind of like that first job interview that you had where the person on the other side of the desk said, “So, where do you see yourself in 10 years?” You thought, ah, how do I answer this? I haven’t even figured out what I’m eating for lunch today let alone what’s going on 10 years from now.
I get it. Some days it’s really hard to think past today. I know what that’s like, but I also know from personal experience that when you take some time to sit down and actually think about your future, it really will help you set a path for yourself. Let’s remember that this season is designed to help you uncover the true you. So today’s discussion is just another strategy that you can implement to help you take inventory of your life as it is today and start to think about where it is you want to go, what do
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you want to do and maybe what improvements you want to make in your life right now and in the future in order to be happier and more fulfilled?
So I’m going to challenge you a little bit. You know that already. If you’ve been listening to this podcast for any length of time I’m always challenging you a little bit. Maybe even a lot, let’s be honest here, but trust me, it will be worth it. So when I ask you about your future and who you want to be, the first place I want you to start is with your future self. Unfortunately they haven’t invented crystal balls yet to make this exercise easier, so for now I’m going to ask you to use your imagination to create your future self.
Think about yourself sometime in the future. Now the fun part of this is you get to be the designer and the architect of your future self. You get to decide what you want that future self to be. Now, okay, I said use your imagination, but I do want you to keep in mind I don’t want you to be so creative that you envision your future self as married to Brad Pitt living in a mansion in California and a beach house, why not, in the Bahamas. Maybe even with a perfume line named after you.
That’s maybe a touch too creative. Let’s just be realistic here, I want you to be wishful and I want you to be hopeful, but we also need to have one foot on the ground. We need to be as realistic as we possibly can. I want you to really think about the different aspects of your life and where you wish or hope they will be. What will things be like if you keep doing things the same way as you are today? Are there things that you need to change?
I find that a great exercise when designing or defining your future self is to start with the three buckets that I always talk about and what you would hope for in each of those categories. You know, the personal, home and work. Just to remind you really quickly, personal relates to the internal and external relationships that you have, and that includes your health, your hobbies, your family, your friends and so on. Home is anything that helps us feel safe and secure. Things that revolve around making our lives runs smoother like finances, household chores, organization, running kids around and so on. Then work is anything that is considered your job, whether it’s a full-time or part-time work or if your job is CEO of your house. Maybe you’re a full time student. That’s your job. So I want you to think about those three areas of life as it relates to your future self.
I have a great download that will help you with this as you sit down to think through these things. It’s called Define Your Future Self and you can download it by going to inkWELLpress.com/podcast and look under the show notes for this episode, episode 107. In the worksheet you’ll see it’s broken down into those categories, those buckets of personal, home and work. There are various questions for you to consider.
It’s simply an organized tool to help you assess where things are today and where you’d like them to be in the future. There’s also opportunities for you to write down anything that’s holding you back and choices that you can make to start you know, implementing some of this change we’re talking about. I think you’ll find that workshop to be really valuable as you work towards defining your future self.
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So when you think about it, when you envision your future self you’re basically starting with the end in mind. Many of you may recognize this concept as one of the seven principles from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I really think this is such a great principle because when you start with the end and then look at where you are today, it can really help you map out that path to get from Point A, which is today, to Point B, which is your goal or your endgame in the future.
You’re basically starting at the end of the treasure map where the buried treasure is and then locating your pushing off point and mapping out a course of action to get you from here and now to the reward, to that treasure that we want. Now, the path to get you from Point A to Point B may not be easy or even a clearcut path. In fact, it will probably be laced with some obstacles and some choices that you’ll have to make along the way. That’s what’s going to help you determine if and how you can get to that Point B that we want to get to.
But ultimately these choices are yours to make. So keep in mind that the decisions you make today, well, it ultimately shapes the life of your future self. Those choices will affect whether you have a straight and easy course or whether you’ll be faced with adversity or moments in your journey where you have to pivot and change directions in order to get to the next milestone. No path is going to be a straight line, that I can promise you, but when you know where it is you want to go it makes it so much easier to get there.
So let me give you some examples of how your future self can be affected by choices you make today. Let’s talk about relationships. When you spend time on relationships that are important to you like with your significant other or your kids, the time you invest now will cultivate and strengthen those bonds in the future. But if you’re always choosing work over relationships, that will have the adverse effect.
What about finances? Well, when it comes to things like nonessentials, spending money responsibly now means you’re more apt to have financial security for the future. On the flip side, spending your finances frivolously now, although it feels fun and impulsive in the moment, doesn’t set you up for some financial stability. What about in health? Setting good exercise and healthy eating habits now, that benefits you for years to come, whereas neglecting your health now because you’re too busy to take time to be healthy, that can lead to future health problems, which ends up taking up more of your time in the long run.
The same thing with professional life. Building up your skills and working hard now will have a positive influence on your career path. Doing the minimum and staying with the status quo, that will have a stagnant effect on your personal life. So you can see how the choices we make today really do have an impact on who we are and what we’re doing in the future. These choices and habits that you make today have a really profound effect on your future self.
I want to talk more about past, present and future thinking, but first let’s take just a minute to talk about our podcast sponsor for today, FreshBooks. FreshBooks is an invoicing and accounting software that’s designed specifically for small business owners. It’s simple, intuitive and it keeps you organized so you can say goodbye to
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Taking a picture of your receipt using your phone you can instantly add them to invoices or assign them to clients through FreshBooks. It’s a great way to digitally store and organize your expense receipts. So join the 24 million people who’ve used FreshBooks and you can try it free for 30 days by going to FreshBooks.com/paradox and then simply enter Productivity Paradox in the how did you hear about us section. They’ll set you up and you’ll be able to get started.
Okay, let’s talk about the past, present and future thinking. There’s been some really interesting concepts around different kinds of thinking, so let me share a few of these with you that I think are worthwhile for today’s discussion to really get you thinking about it. In the late 1990s, psychologist Phillip Zimbardo and John Boyd were both at Stanford University and they were studying how different people focus on their past, their present or their future.
People who live in the present, instead of contemplating about their future, tend to enjoy the spontaneity and the freedom that in the moment lifestyles allow. Now the downside of that though is that those people who are focused only on the here and now are also more likely than others to engage in riskier choices or behaviors that aren’t really necessarily forward thinking and they don’t realize the consequences that tomorrow might bring.
Now, on the flip side, people who concentrate more on their future and what lies ahead, they often make more conservative decisions that tend to make good sense and have positive outcomes in the future. So once again it goes back to that idea of choices and how making good or bad choices now really can shape the life of your future self. Remember in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol where the ghost of Christmas past, present and future come to visit old Scrooge and he’s given a second chance to make the right decisions in order to really positively influence his future.
Well, Dickens really has it right when he illustrated how negative choices today have negative impacts on the future, but you and I, we’re not as lucky as old Scrooge. We don’t get second chances to make the right choice, so we have to do our best to make the right choices the first time. Sometimes that can be really hard. It can be difficult to think about consequences when the positive reward or the outcome for restraint isn’t really immediate. Especially when that choice in front of us is so tempting.
You might have heard about the marshmallow experiments that psychologist Walter Michelle held back in the ’60s. I’m sure you have because it’s a pretty famous experiment where kids were tempted with marshmallows and they could choose either to eat the marshmallow now or if they waited several minutes they could have two marshmallows. Delayed gratification had a bigger reward, but then again, there’s a marshmallow right in front of you that you could eat right now. Instant satisfaction.
It was a test of willpower, of self-control and the ability to see that delaying gratification sometimes can have a bigger payoff and oftentimes it does have that bigger payoff. A lot of times it’s so much easier to just have that cookie instead of
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grabbing an apple or going for a 20 minute walk because the walk doesn’t have immediate results or outcomes. There’s no instant gratification when it comes to reaching some goals.
It requires some faith to know that your good choice and your perseverance will pay off in the end and you’ll lose a few pounds or improve your blood pressure or, you know, feel healthier or whatever it is you’re looking for. We have to believe that’s going to happen and part of that comes from having this idea of a future self and what you’re working towards. That helps build that belief system in yourself that the choices you’re making today really will impact you moving forward.
So I’d like to challenge you to consider this when you’re faced with making choices. If it’s not a choice that’s going to serve you or benefit you in the future, don’t do it. Skip the cookie. It’s a small win when you know you’ve made the right choice and there’s no immediate payoff, but those small wins lead to more small wins which leads to bigger wins and bigger wins and bigger wins and then great big wins there at the end.
So choose not to spend a half an hour on social media and instead choose to invest in yourself, like working on those passions that we just talked about last week. Really think about the choices that we’re making, whether it is choosing a cookie or social media or how you’re spending your days. Your choices today are truly affecting who you are in the future, and your future self will thank you for that.
So I want to talk really quickly too about one more thing to consider when you’re designing your future self before we wrap things up. When you’re starting with the end in mind and thinking about your future self, don’t forget to think about all aspects of your life, even those beyond the tangible ones like, you know, losing weight or the passion project. I want you to remember your moral compass. I want you to not forget about the intangible attributes that describe and shape your life.
Those are your virtues and your values. David Brooks, author of the Road to Character, he says there are two types of virtues, resume virtues and eulogy virtues. Brooks says that resume virtues are the ones you list on your resume, the skills that bring you to the job market or that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues, those are deeper. These are the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being, whether you’re kind, brave, honest, faithful, what kind of relationships you’ve formed.
So as you’re thinking about who you want to be and picturing yourself in the future, don’t forget to put the values in those things that can’t necessarily be listed on a resume. Do you want to be remembered for how much money you make or how many cars you drive? What about how many Instagram followers you have? Or do you want to be thought of and admired for how hard you worked to make a great life for your family or your integrity and your kindness or the effect you have on others’ lives or how honest and persevering you are?
I want to challenge you, think about those virtues and those values when you’re designing your future self. It’s not just about the concrete gains. It really is about the internal benefits of thinking of your future self. It truly is sometimes the
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abstract that we need to be thinking about as well as the concrete. So this season I want you to uncover your true you. I want you to find your passions. Envision your future self and pursue your goals and dreams.
That is the reason for every episode of this entire season. Remember, anytime you want to reverse engineer a plan to reach a goal or a dream you have, starting with the end, with your future self, can help you map out a plan and a possible path to get you from here to that end result. I know it’s sometimes easier said than done. I totally get that because just like you, I have these same goals and dreams, but we have to remember that our good choices today have a positive effect on tomorrow.
So aim for those good choices, those good, healthy habits we’ve been talking about, but don’t beat yourself up if you decide to eat the marshmallow every now and then. We all do. We all have moments where we make choices and we think oh, why did I choose that? We will stumble. We will fall. We cannot polish our halo all the time. No one does, even if it seems like they do. We all stumble from time to time and make bad choices, but what we can do is we can get back out there and begin making good choices.
Just because we have a bad choice we made 10 minutes ago doesn’t mean we can’t put ourselves back on track with some good healthy habits and some good choices that really will benefit us in the future. One of the things I want to encourage you to do is work through that download that I offered. You can get that at inkWELLpress.com/podcast and just look under episode 107. I’ll make sure you’re taken care of to really think through what your future self looks like.
And I also have a new Tanya TV episode to help you get started on planning your future self. It’s a short video called How To Plan Your Month For Success. It’s about sitting down and doing a little bit of future planning each month. You can watch that video at inkWELLpress.com/YouTube. Next week we’re going to continue talking about New Year, True You with an episode called Why You Need To Stop Asking For Permission. It’s a good one, so I’d love to see you here next week. All right, until next time, have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. To get free access to Tanya’s valuable checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast.