by Bev Bachel
Actor Jim Carrey wrote his future self a $10-million check for “acting services rendered.”
Polar explorer Ann Bancroft spent her days in a walk-in freezer to prepare her future self to ski across Antarctica.
Singer Jennifer Hudson named her dogs Grammy and Oscar as a reminder that she had award-winning plans for her future self.
By focusing on their future selves and their hopes and dreams, these individuals nudged the universe in their favor, and you can, too.
You, only better.
Back when I first began thinking about retirement, I attended a presentation by Kelly McGonigal, health psychologist, Stanford University lecturer, and author of The Willpower Instinct.
During her presentation, she stressed that willpower is a competition between our present self, who acts impulsively to satisfy immediate needs, and our future self, who aspires to be better, someone who
puts our long-term well-being ahead of short-term satisfaction.
She also said that most of us, at some point, throw our future selves under the bus by giving in to what our present selves want right now. Think about it. We all know saving for retirement is important. Yet, about half of households age 55 and older have no retirement savings. 
And while everyone says their health is important, 70 percent of U.S.
adults are overweight, which puts both their present and future health at risk. So, how do you bring your present self into focus so you stop putting off the very things your future self will thank you for?
Here are five suggestions:
Let your mind wander. But rather than letting it run wild, put it on a leash by engaging in “positive constructive daydreaming” wherein you plan and rehearse what’s to come, concentrating on playful, empowering activities that will make your future self happy. Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Add as much detail as you can.
Name yourself. On New Year’s Day 1999, I attended a “nudge the universe” workshop with two friends. As part of the workshop, we were asked to choose a new name for ourselves that reflected our dreams for the new century. I chose Author Artist, and within 12 months I had signed a contract for my first book.
Solicit input. Ask friends, family, and colleagues what they imagine your future self doing in the years and decades ahead. Do they see you continuing to live in your current home, downsizing to a smaller place, or adding a second home in a different climate? Or perhaps they envision you transitioning from full-time to more flexible work options before you retire completely, or giving up your career altogether in favor of a long-held dream such as becoming a graphic novelist or joining the Peace Corps.
Rethink what you own. We are what we wear, but so often our clothes reflect who we used to be, not who we want to become. And sometimes the homes and possessions that once brought us joy become burdens. One easy way to start letting go of your past self is by asking, “Is this something my future self would wear, own, or enjoy doing?” If not, let it go.
Create a vision board. What do you want your life to be like in the next three to five to 50 years? Cut out words and images from magazines that capture your vision and glue them on poster board. Then, put your vision board where you’ll see it often, ideally each morning when you wake up and each night before you go to bed. Or, create a for-your-eyes-only vision board on Pinterest.
A picture worth 100 years
If you’re looking to have a bit of fun with your future self, try out AgingBooth, a free app that enables you to instantly see what you might look like 10, 20, even 50 years from now. Although the aged photos the app generates are for “entertainment purposes only,” seeing yourself aging well (or looking like hell?) at 75, 85, or 100 may motivate you to do just what McGonigal advises: take better care of your self today.
And for that, your future self will thank you.
Bev Bachel is a freelance writer and the author of What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go for It! A Guide for Teens. She pictures her future self living in Paris.
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