The Buddha said, “If you want to know your future, look at what you are doing at this moment.”
Because your ‘to do’ list is already cluttered with priorities all fighting for your attention, it’s no surprise that activities that would help you improve yourself and other aspects of your life slip down the list.
And as you try to deal with the constraints placed on your time, you also make unconscious decisions to postpone the hard choices or things you don’t really want to do now, in the hopes that it will be easier for your future self to do.
You end up having unrealistic expectations of your future self. You think that your future self will have more time, more savings, will exercise more, have better habits, will deal with your personal issues etc. but this is rarely the case.
Your future self is different to your present self… and that can’t be unless the present self does certain things differently now.
Because as you know, the future you is the result of what the present you does – how you think, feel, behave and the actions you choose to take right now. For example, unless you decide to start eating healthier and exercising right now, it’s unreasonable to expect that in the future you will do so. It will be as hard to start then as it is now, maybe even harder, because the unhealthier we are the more energy, effort and time it takes to reverse the process and become healthy again.
Think about it…three years ago, your present self was your future self.
What did you do three years ago that your present self is grateful for now?
We tend to focus on where we are going next in our life, what we want to achieve and experience next that we forget to look back and give ourselves credit and praise for the choices we made, the lessons learnt and how we’ve become an even better version of ourselves.
After all, your present self is the result of all the actions you took as your past self.
I’m grateful that in 1995 my past self decided to embark on a path of personal and spiritual development – I am who I am now because of that decision.
My plea to you today is to think what do you want your future self to be like, and start to take action towards expressing that right now.
You might be asking ‘start taking action towards expressing that right now?’ How can I express who I am not yet? Good question. Here’s a short story to illustrate the point.
A few years ago, I had a new client come to see me. At the beginning of her first session she said, ‘I would like to become more confident.’ Her perception (as is normal for all us who want to be more confident) was that she had to become someone she was not yet.
The thinking is you move from point A (not particularly confident) along a continuum in which you change who are you so that you reach point B (very confident) sometime in the future.
Smiling at her, I said, ‘You already are who you are wanting to become.’
She looked at me confused.
(By the way, as an intelligent woman her response was in line with how most people to whom I had said this over the years responded. They gave me similar looks…silently thinking to themselves, ‘What is this coach smoking!’)
Yes, the statement is strange, simply because it means point A and point B are both in the same place, and in present time.
‘You mean I don’t need to become more confident?’
I said, ‘Nope. You already are as confident as you want to be, you’re just not expressing it…yet.’
‘You see, the more confident self you seek to be is already within you. It’s just dormant. Covered by a few layers of self-limiting beliefs and some past experiences which caused you to doubt your abilities and squashed your self-expression when you were younger.’
Her face lights up with excitement. A few seconds later relief spreads across her body – and she hasn’t even done any inner work yet! She’s delighted. She’s realised it’s always easier to remove a few mental and emotional layers than it is to learn how to become someone you think you are not.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for.
It can be something that turns into a habit, like taking good care of your health, saving some money so you can go on a short holiday every three months, or meditating daily.
Or, a big step that you know you need to take, like dealing with some of your limiting beliefs or emotional challenges.
And if you’re waiting for the ‘right’ time, just remember by procrastinating or playing it safe, your future self will be a reproduction of your present self.
So, take a moment to think about what do you want your future self to be like, and you’ll know what action to take.
Do something different today. Take a step you might not normally take and see new possibilities and ways of being become available to you.
What can you do today that your future self will thank you for?