January is a good time to think about what we want to achieve in the coming year. (I hope your January challenges are going well!)
An even longer-term perspective can also be useful. It’s an interesting exercise to relax with a notebook and take some time to imagine the person you would like to be five years from now. What is your life like? What are you like?
I tried it this morning, and some of my answers surprised me.
I know what I hope to be doing in 2024 — still working on my health coaching practice, since it will only be six years old by then :). I imagine myself as a successful health coach, providing valuable services to help my clients achieve their goals. I’m not sure what all of these services will be (individual coaching, group coaching, personal training, online courses, exercise programs, workshops, retreats, books ??), but I know I’ll keep learning, trying different things and figuring out what people want and need, so I’m confident that I’ll be contributing something valuable in 2024, and surely my practice will be much bigger than it is now, with my seven awesome clients and 18 blog followers (thank you all!!).
That means I will be at a very different level as a businessperson. I may hire others to help me (new experience, yikes!), network in bigger circles, and generally invest more in myself and my business. In fact, I’ve got to take this leap if I want to serve more people and be more effective. Hmm …
Meanwhile, at nearly 63 years old in 2024, I’ll surely have thinner hair and more wrinkles, loose skin
and age spots, but ha! I fully accept and love that vision of myself. My physical goals for myself can be summed up by saying that I would love to keep moving in the direction of the incredible Ernestine Shepherd, who was 80 years old in this 3-minute video.
Those two areas were what I expected to cover in my future-self contemplation: (1) professional success and (2) the ongoing transformation of a former computer-desk-potato into someone who can run, jump, throw, lift, bend, climb, dance and balance like a natural human.
But another topic came up during my reflection. When I took the time to vividly picture 2024-me, I realized that I wanted to be not just a successful coach and a fit older person, but also an advocate for change. In my childhood, it was normal for people to smoke in offices and on airplanes (yes, hard to believe, but we changed the culture, well done us!). Now it’s normal to be sedentary, especially as we age, and to eat highly processed foodstuffs that aren’t good for us. Somehow, 2024-me will find ways to help empower people to find fierce joy and radiant health (not deprivation) in natural movement and real foods.
What should I do with these realizations? I can map out the small steps that will get me where I want to be, make a plan and follow it. I can create a vision board and look at it every day to keep me motivated. I can hire my own coach to help propel me forward.
The best advice of all, I think, comes from always-brilliant Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School: think about who you want to be in the future, and then figure out how you can be more like that person right now. Taking on the thoughts, beliefs, feelings and actions of the self you want to be will help you become that person (maybe even before 2024!).
Brooke talks about the struggles she went through to overcome her habit of drinking too much Chardonnay. She realized that she wanted to be someone who didn’t obsess about alcohol, either positively or negatively. Her future self would be able to go to a party or dinner and just not care about wine at all (like a non-smoker isn’t tempted to smoke). What would it take for her to become a person like that? That was the key question in her successful journey.
In my case, instead of doubting myself as I often still do, 2024-me would think “My coaching practice is successful. I can help others and make a difference.” 2024-me feels self-confident and has the courage to push herself to higher levels. Actions I can take with her in mind include promoting, expanding and investing in my health coaching practice, and thinking of myself (now!) as a creative advocate for change.
Wow — I guess I got a lot out of this exercise. What about you? I challenge you to take some time and vividly picture your best 2024 self.
If your future path isn’t clear like mine seems to be, just imagine one possible version of a self you would like to be in 2024. Or perhaps several versions if you are contemplating more than one path — they could be quite interesting to compare!
Some questions you might ask yourself as you imagine yourself in 2024:
- What goals have you met by then (personal, professional, health)?
- What are you doing that is meaningful to you?
- What are you doing that you enjoy?
- What new skills have you gained?
- What current skills have you developed further?
- What values are guiding your actions?
- How are you expressing your true self more closely?
- What role model(s) have you become more like?
- What challenges have you overcome?
- What personal strengths have you continued to cultivate?
- What areas of weakness have become stronger?
- What people are most important in your life?
A related and fun exercise is writing a letter to your future self. Here’s a website that makes it easy to create a message to be emailed to your future self, one year or five years from now (or at a custom time). I wrote one of each this morning. 2024-me will surely smile when she gets today’s awkward message. Of course, she may turn out to be nothing like the person I’ve imagined here. But just bringing her to mind has helped me clarify what I’m doing now, and why,
So give it a try, if you find this exercise intriguing. Who is your 2024 self? What are you thinking, believing, feeling and doing then? And how can you do more of those things now?