Sometimes I just feel stuck. I know what I want to do and often I even know how to do it,but I just don't move forward. I'm guessing you can relate.
Have you ever found yourself saying something like this?
“I could eat healthy if I had a personal chef.”
“I could get in shape if I could hire a personal trainer 4x per week.”
Or basically some version of,
“I know what to do, I just can’t get myself to do it.“
or worse yet,
“What’s the point, it’s not going to work anyway.”
If you just had a little bit of help, or accountability to someone. If you just had someone coaching you, giving you pointers, having some faith in you. Someone to help you plan a strategy and execute it to achieve whatever it is that you feel would up-level your life. Someone to stand by your side all day with the sole purpose of helping you, of keeping you focused and motivated. Someone to do what you can't seem to do for yourself.
This would help you accomplish not only big goals like getting a promotion or losing 50 pounds but also the smaller goals like getting through a difficult conversation or moving your son back to college in the midst of a global pandemic (theoretically). How do we deal with these things, manage our stress and frustration, and come out on the other side feeling proud of ourselves? How do we make progress? How do we finally get our act together?
We get a 24 hour, round the clock, free, personal coach.
Good news. This person exists. Enter the role of the free coach/mentor;
your future self.
Stay with me here, it sounds crazy but what do you have to lose?
Only the possibility of success.
What if you take a minute and picture yourself having achieved this elusive goal? Picture yourself and who you are on the other side of success. What would you say to yourself about the current situation?
Stay the course!
It’s worth it!
You are making progress!
Keep trying until you find the way that works!
How do you show up when someone you love is having a hard time? When your child is struggling with school drama, when your parent is facing chronic illness, when your spouse has lost a job? If you’re anything like me, even thinking of these situations probably fills you with a feeling of compassion. We don’t judge them for struggling, we don’t point out all the things they may be doing wrong. We show up with understanding and with a desire to help them move forward in any way they can.
It’s like the videos we see on social media. The videos of Olympic class runners like D’Agostino and Hamblin who both stop to help a struggling athlete or the girls soccer players who huddle around an opponent so she can fix her hijab during a championship game. These videos inspire and move us.
What if we could be that person to ourselves?
With a little imagination we can.
We are all blessed/cursed with vivid imaginations, the part of our brain that can go to a complete cinematic worst case scenario in under 10 seconds without any prompting. You know the part I am talking about, the part that goes from “my daughter didn’t text me when she got there” to “she probably got in a horrible accident.”
Why don’t we train our brains to create this immediate story with the small change of shifting it to a best case scenario? To use its power for good?
Let me explain.
Step one: Identify one thing you want in your life or one thing that is really stressing you out right now.
Step two: Imagine yourself in 1 month, 1 year, or 5 years having come through it or achieved it with success.
Step three: Get a pen and paper or open a new google doc.
Step four: Write yourself a letter from this version of you to your current version. What would you say about the struggles? What advice would you give yourself for right now in this moment?
Take on the role of the objective observer, of the coach, of the compassionate friend, of the nurse.
It may seem far fetched but it can offer great clarity, comfort and motivation. Don’t believe me? Try it and see. No really, before you discard this as silly, sit down and write the letter.
We aren't done yet.
Engaging your future self is the powerful first side of the two sided tool: the promotion side if you will. The other side is the cessation side.
It’s a stop and go model.
The "stop" side of the tool involves silencing your inner heckler. Remember Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets, the 2 old guys in the balcony who spent the whole time criticizing and mocking the show?
While they were hysterical to watch, it is totally not funny when we allow this running commentary all day long in our brains. The constant stream of negativity lowers our ability to see opportunities and potential. While I would love to say, just don’t think negative thoughts at all, I haven’t yet figured out how to do that and frankly, it’s just not how the human brain is wired. We are wired to look out for danger.
So if we can’t just stop thinking negatively, how do we handle the inner heckler?
Step one: Identify the self-sabotaging negative thoughts. Acknowledge that you are having them. Say the thoughts out loud (maybe be by yourself for this part or you will get some weird looks). Would you say these things to a friend or a coworker?
Step two: Draw a line in the sand with negative self talk. Shut it down. Catch yourself, then stop yourself. “Thanks for the input brain, we will agree to disagree.”
Step three: Change the language if the thought is really persistent. Reframe. Put on a modifier.
“I don’t know how to do it”, can change to “I don’t know how to do it YET” or “I am figuring out how to do it.”
“I never follow through on my plans” can change to “I am practicing following through on my plans, it’s going to take time.”
Hint: watch out for all or nothing language, it simply isn’t true.
We believe what we tell ourselves so this is an important part of the tool
You have the tool you need. A little imagination can release the power and knowledge of your future self and break down the hurdles you have, real or imagined. As Albert Einstein said,
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.”
Try it, me and Albert AND your future self have faith in you.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCVlRFWOjgE The Most Beautiful Moment of Rio 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpKjSQ2StSI Opponents huddle around soccer player
These are the links to the 2 inspiring videos referenced above. What if we could support ourselves like that, in times of stress, or vulnerability, or struggle? Be both people, the struggling and the supporter. Then there is no way to lose.