In 2016, a Stanford group from the Center on Longevity set out to study ways of motivating people to form habits to boost their success in the areas of health, finances, and emotional wellbeing.
As humans continue to live longer, the importance of planning for the future is critical for happiness, health and wealth that grows with age.
To a mind that’s wired for instant gratification and quick fixes, how might we tap into the part of the brain that’s designed for future planning and long-term success?
The Stanford group designed this experiment: they worked with a group of economically-disadvantaged college students who were enrolled in a financial planning course.
The group was divided into two. Both groups interacted with an online financial planning tool and took weekly surveys. But here’s where their experience differed:
at the beginning of each survey, the first group of students saw a static online image of their current selves—a recent photo.
but the second group of students saw an age-progressed version of themselves, one that resembled how they might look in 25-30 years.
The researchers found that the college students who saw the age-progressed version of themselves allocated more money to a fake savings account. They were also more interested in learning about long-term financial planning, and they scored 10% higher on a financial literacy quiz.
What is the takeaway?
One conclusion is that your future success is predicated on how well you can connect to your future vision and future self, now.
When the students viewed their age-progressed selves, they connected to them. They saw themselves with a bigger bank account. The knew this was the path to future wealth. They were more willing to part with their hard-earned money now to to set themselves up years later. They paid themselves now so they could thank themselves later.
Whatever habit you wish you were currently doing-- whether it’s eating more vegetables, passing up more desserts, keeping a workout routine, or remaining calmer around your kids—has to come from new ways of thinking, being, and doing.
Connecting with that version of you, and comparing what she’s doing differently than what you’re doing now is the roadmap to your desired future.
So what is she doing? How does she think? What is she like?
The version of you who is taking these new actions is different from who you are right now. She has to be, otherwise you would already be her, doing what you wish you were already doing.
If you want to become more like that future version of you (wealthier, healthier, calmer, more confident), the fastest way to get there is to think and act more like her. Act as if you’re already your future you.
This is how it works.
Where do you want to be like, what do you hope to be doing, 6 months from now?
1 year from now?
5 years from now?
10 years from now?
If your future self is 15 pounds lighter, what did she do to get there? How is she maintaining her weight?
If she has $200K in savings, what should she be doing right now?
If she’s more confident and in control of her life, what did she need to think and believe about herself?
Everything you think is reflected back to you in your results.
If you’re not hitting your fitness goal, what are your thoughts about fitness and YOU being a fit person?
If you’re not eating the way you’d like, dig into your thoughts about food, cooking, and diet.
If you’re not feeling in control, look at your thoughts about control, what you’re trying to control, and why.
How you think always shows up as your reality.
The future version of you knows a lot.
Borrow bits of her wisdom.
The small changes you make today make a world of impact on your future.
Invite in that possibility.
P.S. Want to get on the fast-track for hitting your goals? Coaching sets you up (present and future) for life. I will help you design healthy habits that feel easy and impactful, so you feel the changes quickly. Which ignites you to keep going.
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