A Fresh Way of Looking to the Future With Renewed Optimism
Combine future journaling and mental rehearsal to envisage your distant and immediate successes.
When a year enters its final stage, there is usually a sigh of relief. Relaxation is nigh, and you can put your feet up. However, this is no ordinary year. As I won’t see a vaccine for a good while, it isn’t easy to positively anticipate the coming year.
Here in the UK, restrictions are still in place, and they will be for some time. As we have jumped from lockdowns to tiered systems, the fluctuation of our ability to live normally makes it difficult to look beyond the coming weeks. Goals have become challenging to envisage, and life stutters from one problem to the next. There is, however, a solution.
Journal about your future successes
The problem with negative anticipation is, especially now, our minds are almost exclusively in a doom and gloom mindset. That makes it challenging to see into the future and imagine any form of goal achievement. However, instead of peering over your fence, Matt Hunckler, CEO of Verge, suggests grabbing a pair of binoculars and looking into the next village. Specifically, Hunckler uses ‘future journalling,’ where you imagine you’re writing a journal entry next year. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What have you accomplished personally and professionally in 2021?
- What are you grateful for?
- How do you feel now that you’ve accomplished everything you’ve set out to do?
Hunckler says it differs from New Years Resolutions because “you’re not setting the intention, you’re reflecting on the results of fulfilling your intention.” You’re gifting yourself future hindsight — latching on to that positive feeling and use it as motivation for the year ahead.
Combine future journaling with the ‘mental rehearsal’ technique
The bestselling author and founder of the billion-dollar publisher ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul,’ Jack Canfield suggests taking future journaling a step further and employing mental rehearsal — a technique athletes have used. It works in three stages:
- You start by imagining yourself in a dimly lit cinema. A movie plays, showing you realizing your goals. Canfield says the key is in the small details, as you should record facial expressions, clothing, and your environment. Like future journaling, you then recreate the feelings the activity provides within your body.
- You then get out of your chair, walk through a door in the screen, and watch everything from your eyes. Embody the experience.
- Finally, you return to your seat. Shrink the screen into the size of a cracker, chew, and then swallow it. Describing this, Canfield writes: “Imagine that every cell of your body is lit up with a movie of you performing perfectly.”
If future journaling unlocks the door, then mental rehearsal swings it wide open. Repeat this visualization technique regularly, and it may surprise you how it can help you carry some much-needed momentum into the new year.
Don’t over anticipate your short-term goals
It’s all well and good looking into the distant future, but what about the immediate future? Well, by combining aspects of future journaling and mental rehearsal, you can overcome the crippling nerves that come with negative anticipation.
Write down how you nailed that interview and how it’s changed your life as a result. Imagine watching a film of you crushing it from an external and internal perspective. This way, you’re removing the stumbling blocks in your mind and creating a more opportunistic environment, allowing positive anticipation to flourish.
Take action on your positive feelings
Positive anticipation allows you to free up your mind from the heavy burdens of your present and immediate future problems. When the going gets tough — especially at this time of year — it’s easy to power down. Instead of assuming the worst, align yourself with the best-case scenario. Keep those feelings within you, and use them as combustion fuel you can burn. Re-energize and motivate yourself to fulfill your dreams.