Every day there’s a moment when you are completely free of your past and you could be anyone you want to be. When is that moment?
As your eyes open in the morning with your mind groggy and body stiff, your memory hasn’t quite loaded yet. You wouldn’t notice this moment as anything extraordinary unless you purposefully look for it or stumble upon it. If you train your mind and body to be still for just a few moments, you’ll find a world of possibilities. You’re not anchored by your past or anxious about your future. You can choose. Who would you choose to become? Do you believe you can choose?
If you believe that you are who you are and that’s that, consider an alternative viewpoint. The article describes Confucius’ view that we are not a stable personality, but a hardened form of our early habits. If you read part 1, you’ll know that I mostly trained the fear of fighting out of myself. Many people change their core traits and behaviors throughout their lives. You might feel these people are inauthentic traitors to their true self. I believed that until I asked: “Why should I be chained by the haphazard habits I formed as a child for the rest of my life?” I’d like to take control back from life’s game of “Personality” Plinko.
There are many versions of you in the universe of space and time. ‘Baby You’ was innocent, flexible, and energetic. ‘Dead You’ will be guilty, stiff, and lifeless. We’re only concerned with two versions: ‘Current you’ and your ‘Best Self’. Your ‘Best Self’ is always in front of you. It’s the ideal you strive towards. Your ‘Best Self’ seems like an end goal, but it’s a symbol of a process. Your ‘Best Self’ is a lofty vision that that motivates you to improve to the point that you look back on your life and think: “Job well done”.
A vague vision of your ‘Best Self’ won’t create positive change in your life. Vision inspires action only when combined with practical tactics. You have habits to choose from on this site to take continuous, small steps towards a vision of your future self. You have a world of information at your disposal to choose to learn and develop in other areas. Before choosing your tactics, the concept of your ‘Best Self’ requires exploration to create a clear image of your desired future.
Notes to Review before Visualizing
- Steps 1 and 2 can take as little as 10-15 minutes and you can complete the remaining steps separately to make it easier to get started.
- If you just want to scan the list now, set a reminder to revisit this visualization exercise before you set goals for the year.
- The questions are direct and simple to answer if you don’t overthink it. You can review, edit, and delete after you have a set of answers written. The first pass of answering the questions is better as a stream of consciousness. Answering immediately puts you in the habit of visualizing your future.
- Whatever you do, don’t make this exercise seem harder than it is. I’ve procrastinated on exercises like this many times, but it’s never as hard as it seems once you start writing answers.
‘Best Self’ Visualization Habit
- Ask yourself questions. Answer the questions that appeal to you, discard the rest, or make up your own. It’s your life vision.
- Personal Growth and Learning
- What skills do I want to develop?
- What qualities would I like to possess?
- What type of training do I want to pursue (school, online, on the job)?
- What personal goals do I want to achieve?
- What are my relationships with my family like?
- Who are my friends or what are their characteristics?
- What do we do together?
- How do I exercise?
- How flexible, strong, enduring will I be?
- What kind of food do I eat?
- What do I drink?
- How many hours of sleep do I get?
- What spiritual activities do I do (church, prayer, meditation, nature)?
- What’s my compensation?
- What investments do I own?
- Where do I work?
- What am I doing to contribute value?
- What are the characteristics of the people with whom I work?
- What hobbies do I have?
- What kind of vacations do I take?
- What do I do for fun?
- How am I involved in my community?
- What do I do to help others?
- Who am I helping?
- Personal Growth and Learning
- Write down specifics. A long list can be intimidating. Copy the list into an editor and write down whatever comes to mind. Don’t stress. Your answers aren’t permanent.
- Repeat this exercise or review the answers a few times before you finalize an initial version. It’s worth it. It’s your life.
- Search for a few images that represent the most important parts of your vision. Visuals are powerful reminders that stick out in your mind more sharply than long verbal descriptions. The words are important for the creation process, but the visuals are the key to the change process.
- Revisit and tweak your vision whenever needed. A yearly review is a good practice. Remember you’re never locked into a vision. You can change it at any time.
- Use your vision to select the goals you want to pursue and habits you want to develop. You may have a long list of desired changes. Prioritize what stands out as most important and get started. You have the rest of your life for everything else. Starting is the key.
Maybe you’re struggling or maybe you’re content with life. When you’re struggling you feel helpless. When you’re content, you feel little motivation to envision an even better future. Either way your ‘Best Self’ is out there, waiting for you to take a step towards realizing your full potential. Think about all that time between ‘Baby You’ and ‘Dead You’ and the world of possibilities that exists when you first wake-up. Will you choose to answer the questions and take the first step? Will you be the depressed, curmudgeon grumbling about “the good ole’ days” or the inspired warrior-scholar fighting to become your ‘Best Self’?
A journey of a 1000 miles starts with 1 step. – Lao Tzu