As published in the NZ Herald, 24th October 2015
How would it feel to meet your future self? The one that’s achieved all the lofty career goals you set for yourself on New Year’s Eve, the one that’s completed an MBA, got a promotion and is blissfully happy?
The thought of meeting our future selves, for most of us, may serve as a cold hard reminder of all those well intended goals that for whatever reason never materialized into actions. The things we said we would start doing but never quite found the time to make it happen.
How can we make it easier to close the gap between the ‘me now’ sitting on the couch and the ‘future me’ achieving incredible things?
Two of the ingredients that generally help you to get to where you want to get are firstly a future view of yourself that is really and truly aligned to who you are and uses your strengths and passions, and secondly the determination and motivation to get there. Not surprisingly the second ingredient is significantly dependent on the first one.
It’s vitally important to find out more about what you truly enjoy, what feels meaningful to you, and then align this with your future goals. How? For those couch sitters – you will be thrilled to know, doing nothing (well almost) could be a great place to start.
According to Chade-Meng Tan author of Search Inside Yourself, and creator of the Google program of the same name, the cornerstone of knowing and aligning yourself is mindfulness. Even if you have no other practice than mindfulness, you will eventually over time create the level of self-awareness and insight you need to find alignment, according to Tan.
If you have somehow managed to avoid the recent media explosion on the topic of mindfulness, it’s the art of maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Practicing mindfulness over time allows you to keep your consciousness fully alive to the present reality. It’s proven to be a very powerful antidote to the rush and busyness of our often fragmented and technology-fueled lives.
So how can you use mindfulness to get you closer to your future self?
Mindfulness enables you to be fully aware and in the moment. When you find that you are in the middle of something at work and in life that you find enjoyable, it allows you to recognize it for what it is, and pay attention to the skills you are using and the conditions that made it an enjoyable moment. It’s that space to stop and say “wow, I was nervous when my manager asked me to present at the team meeting today – but now that I am doing it I realize how much I am loving the challenge and enjoying sharing my ideas with others”.
If you find yourself able to be mindfully aware of an enjoyable task or event at work – break it down and reflect on the contributing factors. Perhaps you are using talents you really enjoy, perhaps it’s the satisfaction that comes from the people you are working with or the environment you are in. All of this is very valuable information to help you understand what made it an enjoyable and rewarding moment for you.
If you feel so inclined, you may like to jot down your thoughts to see what patterns emerge.
These mindful moments, doing what you enjoy in your everyday job, will eventually help you to find a way to identify (and therefore get more of) what you like, and easier to set yourself an exciting goal for the future that feels aligned. As a result you will have more natural energy and motivation to get there.
Just think – if you focus on doing more of what you like and enjoy every day, that meeting with your happier future self, may be just around the corner.