Today, we began season 5 of Productivity Paradox, and I couldn’t be more excited to delve into this season’s topic: Investing in yourself. This is so important to talk about because we often put others’ needs before ours, which means we sometimes aren’t able to work towards and accomplish our own goals.
I give you more details in episode 053, but I’m also giving the rundown here of why we need to focus on our future selves and how to take actionable steps in doing that now.
That’s you at some point in the future. It’s neither an optimistic nor pessimist version of where you’re headed. You should be realistic, though, when working towards the person you want to be.
Ask yourself: What will my life be like if I keep doing things the same way for the next year, the next five years, the next ten years?
Know and realize that the choices you make today shape the life of your future self. It affects your time and your life options your future self has.
Relationships – Spending a lot of time with your children today cultivates that relationship for the future, not spending time with them makes your relationship with them a little bit weaker as they get older.
Finances – Your financial choices today might feel fun, but it’s less money for you to have in the future, and if you’re selective about the non-essentials you spend your money on now, you have more options later on in life financially.
Health – Your health choices today determine your overall health and energy of tomorrow and beyond. So the better you eat today and the more you exercise today, the healthier you’ll be down the road.
Professional – Wasting time, or even just doing nothing more than your immediate tasks, means you’re not building any skills or the reputation you need to move up in your career.
How do you get rid of the fog of self doubt and develop confidence in this future you? Well, the catch 22 is that studies show that to change our beliefs we have to change our actions, but in order to do that, you need to trust yourself, which you can’t do if you haven’t changed your actions.
First, we need to slowly build up self trust to replace the downward spiral of self fulfilling prophecies. Small wins help you gain momentum for big victories in the future.
Establish a pattern of evidence for your brain to observe and find an action that’s doable and easy to adopt, and focus on doing it – no matter what.
Here’s a few examples; if you want to learn Spanish, you might do one 5-minute Duolingo lesson instead of scrolling Facebook during some downtime; if you want to keep a more organized home, maybe you hang up your clothes when you take them off at night; if you want to get up early, start small, set your alarm for five minutes earlier than you do now, not an hour earlier, five minutes. Small wins may feel useless sometimes, but the more you keep up with them, the more credibility and trust you build in yourself, and then the bigger goals you can set.
We need to give ourselves the grace to give it the time it needs to grow. But know this; doing something with long term benefits doesn’t mean you have to be miserable today. You can figure out how to cut back on certain things while still being happy, it’s not a trade off.
Here’s a few more examples of how we can think about typical scenarios where we want to work on our futures selves:
Saving money – Think about a small win. Instead of spending money every morning going to the coffee shop, try investing in a nice coffee maker for yourself. Trust me, a $200 Nespresso machine feels like a big investment, but if you’re spending $5 a day on coffee, that’s equivalent to less than two months worth of your current drink. So you end up saving money, not to mention the time you’ve wasted driving to the coffee shop, standing in line. Small win, leads to a bigger victory.
Eating better – Don’t cut out all the foods you like, that makes life miserable and difficult. Instead, try mindfully eating so you actually enjoy the foods more, and you’re paying more attention so that you stop before you’re full. Don’t believe that’ll work? Well, I actually started this practice myself. I started really focusing on mindful eating in the fall, I didn’t take away any of the foods I love, I just started paying attention; taking smaller bites and actually enjoying what I ate. I gave myself time and space to fully enjoy the process of eating. It’s shocking what a difference this can make to your body, but also to your personal happiness. Change doesn’t have to be difficult or unpleasant. Make it so that you enjoy these changes.
We’re all wired to be short term creature because our ancestors had to be for survival. Today we don’t have to think in the short term, but that’s still how we’re wired. So try to find a little quiet time to review your choices, especially your day to day choices. Envision exactly what will happen to you if you continue with your current lifestyle, the current choices you’re making, and your routines. Don’t make any exceptions for something special this year, there’s always something special and something different for every year.
I have a free download for you to help you start defining your future self, and to help you begin digging in to how you want to invest in yourself. If you’re on my email list, you’ve already received that download because I send it out the day this episode goes live.
This download is designed to look at what I define as the three main areas of your life; work, home, and personal.
Work is the core of what you do each day… where you spend the majority of your time, whether it’s an office or your home. You could be working for a corporation, creating your own business, or be part of a small team. If you’re a stay at home parent, that’s definitely work, as you’re the CEO of your home. I’m speaking from experience here, as a former stay at home mom. That is definitely a career choice, and that falls under the heading of work. In the download what we’ll do is we’ll touch on how you’re doing with your career path, if you’re finding work fulfilling, and so on.
The personal area of your life focuses on relationships, with others as well as yourself. Your mental and physical health, and your personal aspirations that are not work related, and in the download I want you to reflect on your relationships. Do they feel fulfilling, or do you find they’re not as deep as what you’d like? What are you doing for self care? And there’s a few other questions in there for you as well.
The last section is home. Many people mix personal and home, but to me they’re very different. Personal is the relational side of yourself, while home is really the heart of your current living situation. In my opinion, home is the section of most people’s lives that they tend to put on the back burner, but really it’s the foundation for how you live. If your home life isn’t secure, it’s kind of like cooking dinner while the kitchen burns down around you.
To improve your future self, just take those areas that are really bothering you most, and focus on improving them with small daily choices. Begin to paint a picture of who you really want to be long term. Who is the person that you want to be in five years? In ten years?
Look at the choices you’re making today, and then ask yourself what the best long term version of that choice is. Don’t think of changing into some sort of perfect being that’s always focused on the optimal life, this is not a healthy choice. Just keep your future self in mind.
When you don’t think you’ve made the right choice, don’t beat yourself up about it, just think of a better option or a better choice for next time.