Setting Goals Using "Future Self" Thinking

business goals productivity Nov 09, 2022

By Patricia Wooster

Commitment allows you to become the architect of your future identity.

Consider this statement when you are setting goals. The meaning behind our goals drives the motivation we have to execute them. When we attach our future selves or who we are becoming to the desired result, we can start weighing decisions against that outcome. 

Goal Example: Lose 10 pounds and adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Future Self Desire: I have the energy and strength to travel and run around with my grandchildren.

Daily Decisions:

  • Should I skip my workout and sleep in? (Will this decision get me closer to being able to run around with my grandchildren?)
  • Should I eat another slice of pizza even though I’m full? (Will this decision get me closer to losing 10 pounds?)

When setting goals, It is essential to use strong language. Often, we use flexible or wishy-washy wording like:

  • “I wish I could lose weight.”
  • “It would be great if I lost 10 pounds this year.”
  • “I’d like to get healthy this year.”

These statements are based on trying and already have failure built in based on wishing and wanting something to occur. 

INSTEAD: I am committed to getting healthy and losing 10 pounds this year, and I have the process, accountability, and reasons to achieve it. 

“... and then what?”

Those who are truly committed understand the idea of achieving a goal, doing a brief celebration, and then moving through it to the next thing. The original “goal” becomes just a milestone towards something more significant on the journey to a future self. 

The question then becomes, “and then what?” This is because the commitment is actually to growth. Now that the first goal has been achieved and you’ve assumed the new identity, it’s about defining what comes next. 

If the original goal was to lose 10 pounds to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle, and the goal was partially reached by walking every day, then the next commitment may be to run a 5K Turkey Trot. 

What happens if the status of the original goal supersedes the growth and stops you from asking, “what’s next?” This is where people get stuck trying to maintain the initial goal. 

Why is this a problem? 

Without striving toward a future self, we lose meaning. 

Without meaning, there’s no commitment. 

Without commitment, we lose motivation. 

Without motivation, we fall into the wishing and wanting category. 

To be the architect of our future identity, we must detach from the person who achieved the original goal (i.e., lost 10 pounds) and attach to the next commitment. This growth into our future self keeps us engaged in meaningful work. 


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