If you have wandered around my “About” page you may have noted that I am a self-proclaimed “champion” of thinking of my future-self. Does that mean simply planning ahead? Making lists? Being organized? Doing things in the short-term that will also benefit my short-term? Or those things that will benefit the long term? Am I talking about huge goals that will take years to reach or small goals that I can accomplish in a week?
Yes. All of the above. Beginning to think about your future-self, at a very basic level, is tapping into your inner dialogue. We throw the term “self-awareness” around a lot, but have you actually taken 5 minutes out of your day to reflect on your experiences? The positives, the negatives, who you interacted with, who you didn’t interact with? Your energy levels, or your overall mood? Thinking of your future-self is being self-aware enough to anticipate your needs, your challenges, your triumphs, etc. It is all about making life easier. The day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year.
On a quick side note: I love this topic so much. I talk about this topic with Joey, friends, and family, I have taught it in the classroom, and presented it professionally within the scope of improving time management skills. I am obsessed. Okay, okay, do you want to get to know your future self a little better? I suggest starting with asking yourself the following questions.
- What part of your day do you find the most stressful, that you have the power to change?
- What is one thing you can incorporate into your daily routine that will significantly impact the quality of your days in the present?
- What is one thing you can begin to consider ahead of time, that will significantly impact the quality of your days in the future?
- How can you anticipate your needs a little better during particularly stressful times of the year?
Think about these questions, the answers will change from day to day depending on what type of experiences you had that day: the good, bad, ugly, and beautiful. Take mental note of the answers or write them down, whatever feels most natural to you. When you feel like you’re ready to start thinking of solutions, give yourself permission to start small. We’re not trying to solve ALL the problems ALL at once. Consider the following:
- Prep your coffee each night on a delay timer, this way in the morning it is freshly brewed, you save a few extra dollars by brewing at home, and there is no added effort to an already rushed morning routine.
- Pick out and press your clothes the night before to avoid the “I have nothing that is clean / presentable / that I like to wear” song and dance. This can apply to work, school, a big event, whatever the case may be.
- Avoid letting your car’s gas tank getting to the “I may run out of gas, but let’s see what happens” point. Have you ever thought to yourself “I’ll just stop at the gas station on the way to work tomorrow morning.” And then you wake up late, forgot to press your clothes, get called in for an early meeting, and now you’re going to be 5 minutes late and smell like gas? Too much detail? This happened to me way too many times to not make a change.
- Meal plan for the week. Different than meal prep. Meal planning is making a menu for the week and making sure the ingredients make it on your weekly grocery list. We meal plan each Sunday in preparation for the next week. On Sundays I will go grocery shopping and make sure we have all the ingredients, however, I don’t actually prep the food (I haven’t reached that level of expert yet).
- Start early on larger projects that will take a lot of time / energy / money. Break them down into smaller tasks. Things like: planning a birthday party / wedding / large life event / moving / planning a trip / managing a home renovation / purchasing holiday gifts, fill in the blank. Whatever the stress-inducing large task may be, if you know that it is approaching, go ahead and start making productive moves one step at a time.
- Create loose itineraries when travelling and identify your preferred comforts: where is the closest grocery store just in case you forgot something? If the accommodations doesn’t have a coffee maker, where am I getting my morning fix? Little things that you are accustomed to at home, that will make your trip so much more enjoyable if you anticipate ahead of time.
- Learn how to set financial goals, and stick to them. I’ll be honest with you, this is one that I am always working on. This could be as simple as tracking your spending for one month (I know, that sounds terrifying) and noting how many times you purchased food or beverages when you could have made your own. How many times you purchased an item you didn’t actually need. Start small from there with changing little behaviors.
- Plan your Paid Time Off / Vacation ahead of time: not just the big ones, the little ones too. In the early summer I begin looking at my calendar for Fall, anticipating when I may need a long weekend. This is typically just one vacation day to do nothing, or everything. Whatever YOU want to do with that time. When you get into the thick of it: whatever your busy season looks like, where is there a pocket of time (before, after, or during) that you can strategically use for yourself?
The examples above are just a drop in the future-self ocean. Each of us will have different challenges, responsibilities, schedules, etc. However, I am pretty confident in saying, we all could use a little less stress in our day to days. I challenge you to make a list of three things that you would like to start trying. If you only fit one of those things into your routine — we’ll consider that a success.