Making friends with your future self may seem like an odd idea. It is certainly abstract. However, it is one of the surest ways to make sure that you are taking the steps you need to take now for the life you want in the future. Getting to know your future self offers immense benefits for personal growth and fulfillment.
Cultivating a friendship with a version of who you will be in the future, helps you gain a sense of direction, motivation, and accountability. You tap into their wisdom and resilience, enabling you to overcome challenges and make more informed decisions.
8 Reasons You Should Get to Know Your Future Self
Hopefully you like the person you are now. And, if all goes well, you will like the person you’ll be in the future. And, there are many reasons to get to know that future person now.
Here are 8 very concrete reasons to make friends with future versions of yourself:
1. Offers a sense of direction
Making friends with your future self helps you gain clarity and direction in life. By envisioning the person you aspire to become, you can set meaningful goals and work towards them with purpose. Developing a friendship with this ideal version of yourself enables you to tap into their wisdom and insights, guiding your present actions towards a future that aligns with your values and aspirations.
2. Provides motivation and accountability
Think about this: Are you more likely to take care of and make good decisions for someone you know or a total stranger?
When you befriend your future self, you gain a source of motivation and accountability. Your future self knows the importance of consistency, discipline, and perseverance. By fostering this relationship, you tap into their determination and commitment, which can be a powerful catalyst for personal growth.
You become accountable to the future version of yourself, creating a strong sense of responsibility to follow through on your goals and aspirations.
3. Insures better decision making today
Research conducted by Hal Hershfield, a social psychologist at UCLA, suggests that visualizing and connecting with a vivid representation of one’s future self can have a profound impact on decision-making and behavior. Hershfield’s studies revealed that individuals who had a stronger emotional connection with their future selves were more likely to save money for retirement and make healthier lifestyle choices.
“My research asks, ‘How can we help move people from who they are now to who they’ll be in the future in a way that maximizes well-being?”
The concept of future self-continuity refers to the degree to which individuals perceive themselves as connected to their future selves. Many other studies have shown that a strong sense of continuity between present and future selves is associated with greater savings behavior, academic achievement, and health-related decisions.
Feeling a sense of personal identity across time allows individuals to make choices and take actions that benefit their future well-being.
4. Helps you be disciplined
Studies have found that when people perceive their future self as a distinct entity with whom they can form a relationship, they are more likely to exhibit self-control in the present. This connection aids in making choices that prioritize long-term goals over short-term gratification.
People who are in touch with their future are more likely to:
- Eat well
- Save for retirement
5. Increases likelihood of achieving goals
Research conducted by Daniel Bartels, a behavioral scientist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, suggests that emotional bonding with one’s future self is an essential factor in achieving long-term goals.
Building a positive emotional connection with the future self enhances motivation, self-discipline, and persistence in pursuing desired outcomes.
6. Improves planning
Implementing intentions refers to the practice of specifying detailed plans for achieving specific goals. When individuals make friends with their future selves, they are more likely to form implementation intentions that outline how, when, and where they will take action towards their desired future.
Research has demonstrated that implementation intentions increase goal attainment and promote behavior change.
Making friends with your future self? Be sure to incorporate them into your written financial plans. The NewRetirement Planner is the most robust projection engine anywhere, perfect for planning your future.
7. Helps you balance today’s priorities with tomorrow’s possibilities
It is pretty easy to make the right decision if you are only factoring in what is going to make you feel great today. You know what you want right now.
The trickier part is in making decisions that are best for today AND your future. However, by personifying your future as a living breathing person, you are more likely to balance today’s priorities with what you want for your future.
8. You’ll have a happier and more secure future
By befriending your future self, you are more likely to make decisions that will benefit your overall future well being. You will take care of your health and save money for retirement, critical tasks if you want a happy and secure future.
So, How Do You Make Friends with Your Future Self?
Okay, maybe you are convinced that making friends with your future self is a good idea. But, how do you do that? Your future self doesn’t even exist yet and you certainly can’t invite them out to coffee!
Here are a few ideas:
Visualize future versions of you
Dedicate time to visualize your ideal future self. Envision the qualities, achievements, and experiences you wish to embody. Engage all your senses and create a vivid mental image.
Do this for the you you’ll be in 5, 10, 30 plus years out.
Start at the end
When imagining your future, there are a lot of possible versions. It might be easiest to start at the end. Who do you think you’ll be at the end of your life? How old do you hope to be? How will you be living? Work backwards from there.
Document who you want to be
Record (write, draw, or record a video) of who you will be. This is an important step, a way to make your future self concrete in your imagination.
Be as specific as possible. What do you look like? How do you dress? What do you believe in? What have you achieved? How do you feel about those achievements? Where do you live? Who is in your life? What is your daily routine?
Making a decision? Ask for advice from your future self!
Yes. This might sound crazy. However, you will want to engage in some kind of imaginary dialogue with your future self. They will have something useful to say about big decisions and everyday behaviors too.
Ask for advice from them and imagine what guidance they have to offer. Think about them when making big and small decisions.
Think about it, your 70 year old you will not want you smoking cigarettes and feasting on fried chicken. They need you to eat well and exercise. They might encourage you to splurge on a big vacation, but only if you can also save for retirement.
Check in with your future self on a regular basis
As illustrated above, checking in with yourself about decisions is important. And, you should probably make touching basewith your future self a regular thing.
There was a trend a while back where people wore bracelets saying “what would so and so do?” For example, you can buy bracelets saying WWJD which stands for “What Would Jesus Do.” Some people replace Jesus with the name of their Dad, Mom, or a favorite teacher. And, it can be quite effective to virtually consult someone you admire or respect.
In a similar vein, it is important to check in with your future self on a regular basis. Make them part of your way of thinking. Ask yourself, “What would your future self do?”
Write down the big milestones you need to hit in order to be the desired future self
Set specific, realistic goals based on your vision of your future self and document the milestones you’ll need to achieve in order to get where you want to go.
Budget for your future self
If all of the above suggestions sound a little too abstract for you, here is a concrete idea: Document a detailed budget for your future self.
Figuring out what you want (or need) to spend through retirement is a really useful way to understand how much savings you need for a secure future. And, the process will really help you imagine who you will be and the kind of life you will be living.
The NewRetirement Planner will walk you step by step through this future budgeting process. The Budgeter has over 13 categories and 70 subcategories to help you envision your future.
- You can set different expenses and expense levels for different time periods so you can budget for all future versions of yourself.
- Set must spend and nice to spend levels which can help with income and investment planning.
- Plus, there are features for better tax handling of expenses.