When I was a kid, I used to wish for a crystal ball to tell me what the future held. In those days, I settled for my Magic 8-Ball. Remember those? I’d ask the ball a question, shake it, and then look for it’s answer: “Reply hazy, try again.” or “Yes – definitely.”
These days, I’m more interested in the future visions I create. Psychology professor Laura King discovered that writing about one’s best possible future self improved participants’ moods, health, and ability to set and achieve goals. In the study, psychologists instructed participants to write a vision of their lives five years in the future, imagining that they had worked as hard as possible and everything had gone as well as possible. I’ve used this exercise with many clients over the years . I’ve seen it transform their lives. Better than a Magic-8 ball, the exercise gives us the ability to sketch out the details of their happily ever after.
So are you up for the challenge? I certainly am! Here are the basic instruction for the exercise:
Imagine yourself five years from now. Everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of your goals. Write in the present tense about your life.
In the original study, participants did this exercise four times. I like that. I found that the first time I tried this exercise, I was so tethered to the present that I could not vision the future. The second time I did the exercise, my tether was looser. Each try brought bigger dreams. As I worked at it, my description of my best possible life became more detailed.
Here are some other hints for doing the exercise:
*Use as much sensory detail as possible.
*Write about every area of your life—not just your job. Think about your living environment, what you wear, how you exercise, the foods you prepare and eat, and who you connect with.
*Think about creative ways you could do the exercise. Instead of simply journaling about your best possible future, write an article about yourself, an acceptance speech for a coveted award, or a profile of yourself for a television news show.
*Consider doing the exercise away from home. It’s hard to see the seeds for your beautiful future when you are staring at piles of dirty laundry and unpaid bills. Go to the art museum, a coffee shop or library and write there. You will be able to think bigger thoughts away from home.
Finally, and most importantly: have fun! Enjoy this exercise. I know I will!
Want more? Next Tuesday, I will be leading a webinar called, “Making Time to Write” for Writer’s Digest. (Register here.) The Best Possible Self exercise is just one of the steps I will present to help participants make writing a priority in their lives. I hope you’ll stop by. It should be great fun!