The Path To Success: How To Get Motivated By Your Past And Future Self

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There it was… that one question that people ask you so many times during job interviews: where do you see yourself in 10 years? I was fresh out of school and had never thought about it that much.

Strange, right? You grow up, choose a direction in school and you seem to also be determined at the age of 14 what your life will be like.

So there I was, with a mouth full of silence. What should I say to the interviewer?

Needless to say, the answer didn’t come then. It still intrigued me and I started thinking.

Fast forward about 10 years (to the person I didn’t know I would become). I wasn’t doing what I studied, but did learn some amazing things. Now I was mastering speed reading, mind mapping (and even created my own technique), developed a strong memory and shared these techniques and skills with people around the world.

Then that question came along again. Where will you be in 10 years?

I used visualization, mind maps and goal setting to create a simple system to figure this out. I believe knowing your best future self helps you to become more focused and motivated. It will make life clearer and more fun at the same time.

How To Get Motivated: Your Past Self

One of the best things to do to determine where you are going is to see where you were 5 years ago. Do you have a clear picture of that change? Then it is time for some hard questions:
•    Are you happy with the progress you made?
•    What helped you going to where you are now?
•    Where would you have been if you did things differently?
•    What would have been a much better strategy to create an even better life?
•    Are you now where you thought you would be?

Most people see differences between their dreams and their current life. That’s great!

Figure out what caused those differences. What did YOU do to get here in this situation? Take personal responsibility, for 100% of your situation (sounds hard, but if you have someone to blame or praise, you better make it yourself). Even for the stuff you really didn’t do.

Now that you have the answers to these questions, you can probably tell yourself if the person from the past is someone you like to be, or not (most of the time not, because you’ve probably grown and changed).

If he or she isn’t, you need to know that you don’t want to be like that.  Fear or another 5 years like this is your motivation then.

How To Get Motivated: Your Future Self

Fast forward to your current behavior and actions 5 years into the future. Does that create an appealing picture for you? Did you get where you want to go? Are you doing the things you love, with the people you love?

In short, are you living your dream?

Even if the outcome of these questions is positive, you can do better.

What would that amazing self in the future do and who would he or she become?

Now you found your perfect role model! This is the person you look up to, who motivates you, who tells and shows you who you can become!

You are your own inspiration. Don’t follow the perfect picture of other people. Follow your own person. Be who you now know you can be. Whenever you need answers, ask the future self. He or she was there already.

By the way, what are the habits and actions you need to change to become your future self? List all of them and keep them with you to acquire them.

Action steps to start using this today:

Take a piece of paper. Turn it landscape (long side towards you). Draw four stick figures on it representing past (left), present (middle) and future (top right and bottom right). Draw lines between past and present, and between the present and the two futures.

The bottom future figure is the one you will be when you don’t change. The top right figure is the one you become when you live your life to the fullest.

Action step 1: Understand where your past self brought you and what you learn from this change. Add these findings on your paper.

Action step 2: Identify your future based on your current actions, habits and emotions. Also add that information.

Action step 3: Determine who you need to become in order to live your life to the fullest.  What lessons do you learn from your dream or full potential self? Add that to the paper.

There you have it. Now implement what you learned. Make sure you look back regularly to see if you are still on track.

At the very least you have an amazing friend on your side now who guides you through the rough times in your life and who supports you through thick and thin.

Written on 6/27/2013 by Arjen ter Hoeve. Arjen ter Hoeve is a coach, family guy, writer, friend who has a passion for creating balance in mind and information. He can also be found sharing his ideas and techniques on his website where he talks about tools and techniques to make small adjustments in your life to create amazing results.

Photo Credit: Live Life Happy

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