Want to know how to get where you want to be? Interview your future self and get some ideas for your next steps.
I tried this myself after listening to an episode of the Side Hustle School podcast.
If you’re not familiar, the podcast is 10 minutes each day and host Chris Guillebeau recounts a successful side hustle story, then highlights some points to take away. If you’re interested in any kind of side hustle, from a creative passion project to a business venture you want to make your full time job, it’s a great way to pick up tips and learn from others’ experiences.
Anyway, as I listened to one person’s story, I wondered what my story would be like if Happy Parent UK became a success and led to being featured on the podcast.
Then it struck me: I’ll interview myself years from now. The interview won’t be about what a typical day is like for me now Happy Parent has taken off, not how much I’m earning or how I’ve achieved perfect work/life balance. The interview will tell the story of how I got to his point of success. Process over outcome.
So I wrote out a couple interview questions about how I made Happy Parent UK a success and why I started it, then wrote out answers in my journal.
Considering it all came from me, this exercise was surprisingly insightful.
For instance, it suddenly became clear that coaching would have to grow slowly in the early years of my youngest’s life.
As I answered the questions from my future successful self’s perspective, I confidently started referring to these interim years as the “incubation period” for the business aspect of Happy Parent UK, and I listed all the things I did in these years to ready myself and Happy Parent for a bigger launch in several years. I described how I made the transition from traditional employment to eventually the coaching business paying the bills.
Basically, I answered lots of questions that were confusing me and stealing focus.
After the “interview” I looked back at my notes and made a clear list of what I needed to do next, and how certain simple steps built up to bigger pieces of work that take me closer to my goals.
It also clarified what I am not ready for right now. Acknowledging that I have a day job and a young family, both of which I love, helped me appreciate that this passion project has to grow steadily and perhaps slowly. And that’s okay.
That has always been my vision but somehow I had started to buy into this idea that I needed to make this an overnight success or it would flounder. This black-and-white, largely subconscious thinking has led me to put pressure on myself to invest in advertising or ramp up my client numbers. I even started looking at my diary to try to squeeze in more slots for coaching clients, and then feeling stressed and anxious that it was hard to find more time without seriously impacting other areas of my life, like time with my kids or my self care.
The benefits of interviewing my future self
So interviewing my future self helped me clarify my vision and how I am going to get from A to B. It helped me define the terms of how I am doing this, and draw the boundaries between the different areas of my life – work, family, writing, coaching. And it led me to having a clear set of simple steps I can take to make my dreams a reality.
So what do you want to do? What goal to you have that you’re not sure how to get there? Jot down any questions you want to know the answers to.
Now imagine yourself in the future. Use as many senses as you can to really put yourself into that future – how old you are, what you look like, where you’re being interviewed, etc.
Then answer the questions. This is an interview, so stay in the future voice. Don’t flit back to present and start using future tense; keep using past tense.
Now see what comes up! Feel free to share how you find this exercise. Either email me or feel free to comment on the Facebook group.