Future YOU

Sarah Coolidge
Sarah Coolidge is an author, trainer and message mentor.
Leadership

Jan 17,2018

I put away the last big box of Holiday decorations tonight, carrying it out into the back yard in the dark. For a minute I thought I might need a flashlight as I fumbled in the over-stuffed shed where it lives most of the year, trying to find a place to put it. Then I remembered that I might have left an open spot on a shelf for it. Sure enough, I felt around and found it, pushed the box on to the shelf in the pitch dark and said aloud:

“Good job Past SarahFuture Sarah is really happy with you right now.” Present Sarah felt pretty good, too.

Future You is one of the best parenting ideas I ever came up with, and it lives on in me today. I don’t know when it happened, but sometime along the journey of mothering my first-born his future-self helped me out when we were discussing current behavior. I simply asked my son, “What do you think Future David would want you to do?” (No, that is not his real name.)

“Huh?”

“Imagine yourself in six months, getting to buy that new bicycle. That’s Future David.”

“Yeah?”

“What do you think he will be thinking and feeling if he has plenty of money in the bank to buy that bike?”

“Pretty happy, I guess.”

“Okay then. Imagine you see Future David, buying himself a new bike. Does he like you? Is he glad you saved your money?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“And if you decide to buy this candy right now instead of save your allowance, what is Future David going to think about you? How might he feel instead?”

“Okay. I get it.”

And he did get it. We all did.

Maybe we were discussing homework. Or playing less video games. Or eating more vegetables. Who knows? The important idea was thinking of your own self in a future time, and caring about that person. It was a concept, and a question that stuck with us, and it came in handy plenty of times. Both my boys understand the idea and are open to thinking about what their future selves might have to say about an action they are contemplating taking (or not taking) right now.

“If you don’t get some sleep tonight, how do you think Future David might be feeling about you? Is he going to like that when it is time to take the exam?”

“Your friends are coming over? Yippee! Don’t you just love Past David and how he cleaned his room?”

Try it out. I bet you will find checking in with various Future People to be a really useful tool in your efforts to grow productive behaviors. A word of warning, however: Conjuring up Future You is not a magic pill, and it does not solve every problem. There are plenty of times that we all will choose joy (or ease) in the moment and leave Future Whoever to fend for his or herself.

Still, I am grateful to my Future Children and the number of times they reached back in time to help us in the present take care of the things we all valued and wanted.

And tonight, I am extra-grateful to Past Sarah for taking a moment to make sure a shelf was clear to make something just a little bit easier for Future Sarah.

Me.

You go, girl!

____________________________________________________________________________

Photo credit: http://www.theoutlookforsomeday.net/gallery/2012/winning-films/The+Outlook+for+Someday+2012+-+Future+You+1.jpg.php

Other articles by this author