Of all the coaching exercises I’ve done, this one has been one of my personal favourites and most insightful. I’ve done it a few times, and was inspired to do it again most recently after reading the May 2018 issue of Psychologies magazine (okay, so I’m a little behind, because when do I get a chance to read a magazine with a baby?).
The idea is simple. You envision your future self, and your future self helps you find the path from where you are to where she is.
When I did it this time, I used the suggested meditation, which you can find here at Tara Mohr’s website. The meditation was useful in calming my mind and reconnecting with my body, so my more creative, intuitive self answered the prompts.
And it was fascinating to see what came up for me. My future self welcomed me into her beach cottage, walking through a great rustic kitchen into her office/studio, where paint supplies lined the windowsills and we sat down in mismatched chairs. She was effortlessly and unapologetically doing her thing – painting, writing, going on retreats, swimming in the sea, running on the beach, yoga – and I loved her for it. She was a loving, caring wife and mother (albeit to two grown men who had left babyhood far behind them), but the boundaries of herself were well intact, which if anything lent the love she had for her family more power than if she was overly intertwined with them all.
Getting a real, in-the-flesh sense of my ideal future self helped shine a light on what I want now. If experience has taught me anything, really nailing down what you want – really want – is easier said than done. It’s so easy to get distracted and spend enormous amount of time, money, and effort, only to find that wasn’t actually what you wanted.
I also often find that what I really want is something simple, if not easy. Often it’s free. This was no different.
Want to try it yourself?
Then I recommend the aforementioned meditation, as it really does help loosen up and go beneath and beyond the chattering mind.
If you don’t want to do the meditation, you can try the following recap of the basic premise:
- Find a quiet(ish) spot. (I say ‘ish’ because I had to do this with my two boys in the room with me, and I whilst I closed my eyes for the meditation I squinted at them fairly regularly during the quiet meditation to make sure all was safe and well. And it still was really effective for me. So work with your reality.)
- Relax your body as much as possible. Take a few deep breaths. Start at your feet and either tense and relax the muscles, moving up your body. Alternatively, you can ‘breathe into’ your feet, then your calves, then your thighs, etc, moving up your body. Do what feels most comfortable for you. Feel your weight supported by your chair or whatever you’re sitting or lying on. Relax your jaw, let it slacken (no one cares if your mouth is slightly open so just let it all go). Really feel your body, be in your skin.
- Imagine your present self meeting your future self, twenty years from now. Where does she live? What does she look like? What’s the feeling you get being around her? What is she doing? Engage as many senses as you can. What does her home smell like? What textures are present?
- Now you can ask her if she has any advice for you. Or how you can get from where you are to where she is. Let it flow.
- Now let your future self tell you her name. Not your given name. This may sound a bit woo, and I guess it is, but again, I found this powerful to just see what came up for me. It’s become a bit of a secret code for me, giving me a symbol to rally myself around. It could be anything. Just see what comes up. No one else has to know what name arises, so relax and embrace it.
- Return your attention to your breath and then the room around you. When you’re ready, open your eyes.
- If time allows, you may want to journal about what came up for you. Again, I found it really powerful putting pen to paper to capture the sense of my future self/inner mentor, and as I wrote about her more insights came up for me.
I’ve done this before from a more practical, conscious state of mind. Rather than my present self meeting my future self, I simply imagined what I would be like, what I’d be doing, etc, in twenty years if I was lucky and things went reasonably well between now and then. That was powerful, but there is something to be said for the experience of ‘meeting’ her and her giving herself a name. When I’ve done this before, it’s given me some clarity around what I wanted to do or what made a day a good day. But this exercise this time really helped me appreciate what I want at a deeper level.
I now carry my named future self around with me like a mental talisman. What would _____ do? And I know that she is inside me, right now, waiting to emerge.