Change Your Future in 3 Steps

I used to dread making goals.  I’d think, what’s the point? I’m not going to keep them anyway.  I still made them and I still failed, evoking feelings of shame and self-doubt every time.  How did I begin to break this pattern? Anytime you even think about starting something new, where you look could make you or break you. 

Looking to the past can set you up for failure.  Do you remember the first time you failed at something? Failing is never a fun feeling. It’s always uncomfortable and embarrassing. Typically when we fail, we eventually arrive at the belief,  “What’s wrong with me?” Anytime you think about starting something new, whether it be a new business, starting a diet or getting to the gym 5 days a week, your brain immediately gets to work on computing if the outcome of doing this will result favorably for you.  Will you succeed?  How hard will it be? Is it worth it?  Using the past as a reference for success, the lower brain may just decide, “Nope!  You’ve failed at this before, not a good idea.”  These thoughts will most likely lead to feeling fear or self-doubt. I don’t know many who can conjure up motivation from that.  The only time you learn from your past is if you can look at it free of emotional ties.

Keep your focus on the future for success.  Do you remember learning to ride a bike?  Maybe you were one of the lucky ones and just got on, started peddling, and away you went.  For the rest of us however, it took multiple times of falling over and starting again to become skilled at it.  What kept me motivated?  The idea of riding my bike with all the big kids.  I kept imagining how great it would be.  Starting something new can be full of possibility instead of fear and self-doubt.  Your brain will offer you many reasons why you shouldn’t, which is why intentionally directing your brain to the future possibility is what will keep you moving forward.  It’s where you will find your motivation to keep going.  To get you started on creating the new “future you”, see yourself where you want to be and then answer the following questions:  What new habits will I have?  What will I value? Who and what will I surround myself with?  What will I do when I’m stressed? (I offer many more questions for you to think about in my podcast.) 

Know where you are right now to map your road to success.  Just like any map, in order to get to where you want to go, you need to know where you are first.  What new habits will you have?  Where are you right now on your habits?  Make a roadmap of how you will gradually change each habit to get to that new future you; repeating this step for each of the above questions you answered.  Here’s the trick. No matter what failures you encounter, keep redirecting your focus to where you want to be and keep going until you get there.

Until around the age of 24, our brains naturally look to the future.  We see ourselves wanting to walk, so even though we fall down a hundred times a day, we get up and keep trying. Same with learning to speak, driving a car, and maybe tack on a few skills like a sport, dance or an instrument.  We look forward to graduating, being in a serious relationship, having kids, and going on adventure.  Then around the same time the pre-frontal cortex of our brain closes, the flexibility of thought starts to become more rigid and we start the process of getting “set in our way”. It’s natural for the brain to start looking to the past for our chance of success.  It’ll take intentional directing to focus our attention to the future in order to keep moving forward.

Want to learn more? Listen to the expanded version as I dive deeper into this topic and share stories and
examples on my podcast here.

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