Thinking of questions to ask your future self is one way to help set personal goals in your life plan. It can serve as a brainstorming session, helping determine what you think will be of personal value X years down the road. Just spending some time to think of questions may reveal areas of growth and improvement that you had previously not considered, areas that you may have not known were important to you on a subconscious level, and this is the level that you want to tap in to as you chart a life plan.
- Developing a life plan and personal goals requires reflection.
- Wondering what to ask your future self is a way to determine what you want from life.
The questions to ask your future self will change over time. What you want to ask your future 25-year-old self is going to differ from what you’d ask your 65-year-old future self. The age at which you are asking yourself these questions may also drive the questions themselves. If you are thirty, what you might ask your future 50-year-old self may be different from what you’re asking your future 50-year-old self at age forty.
Or maybe not! Some of the questions may very well end up being the same. “Am I happy?” is an example. It’s an important question – perhaps the most important life question of all. It’s a basic question, but it serves the purpose of stimulating ideas on goals, and consequently the steps to reach those goals. “Am I happy?” inevitably leads to “What will it take to become (or stay) happy?”
In fact, let’s start there…
Am I Happy?
You want the answer to this future question to be an unequivocal “yes!” The pursuit of happiness (or avoidance of pain) is what drives our decisions and actions. If our course of action doesn’t lead to happiness – what’s the point?
If you can answer this question with a yes now – great! The question now becomes how do you stay that way? Alternatively, how can you become even happier?
Recognize what is holding you back today, or what might be holding you back in the near future. Find ways to rid yourself of those roadblocks. This may mean changing your life course, changing a few habits, or, the more difficult task – changing your outlook.
It’s entirely possible that your future self will answer no. Life can change in an instant. We can make the best plans today only to have them thwarted with unexpected, external events tomorrow.
Am I Physically Active/Fit?
The mind-body connection is under appreciated. What impacts the mind impacts the body. The evidence is in the impact of stress on the body. Likewise, in the impact of meditation on the body. The reverse is also true, the body impacts the mind.
Exercise benefits the mind the mind by promoting brain plasticity, stimulating growth of new connections between cells. It boosts memory and focus. Perhaps best of all, exercise releases endorphins. These endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, not that different from morphine – only it’s all natural, and rather than being destructive to the body, it is a body enhancer.
Staying physically fit and active is a top goal in life because it not only extends life but supports the mind and thus helps keep a positive outlook, forward movement, and promotes the achievement of all other life goals you have set for yourself.
Have I Stopped X?
No one is perfect. If you were, there would be no point in establishing life goals or pondering what questions to ask your future self. There would be no point – you’re already perfect.
You have some type of vice, some type of unhealthy habit, or some type of unproductive thinking. We all do. There are vices like having a coffee addiction and there are vices like smoking cigarettes. Almost anything in excess will turn the corner from being good or okay to entering an unhealthy or destructive path.
You are probably already aware of habits or states of being that you know are counterproductive to your general well-being. Negative thinking is a common one. Ask yourself now what it is that that you do that is harmful or inhibitive. You may not like the answer, because hearing it – or better yet writing it down – means you might have to change, and change is difficult, particularly with habits.
However, if you know it’s something you need to stop, you also know it’s in your own best interests. You want what’s on the other side of quitting/stopping it. The long-term reward is worth the short-term pain. Your future self will thank you.
Have I Established Healthy Habits?
Like exercise, what you put in your mouth affects your body and what affects your body affects your mind. We become what we consume applies not just to our mental input but also our dietary inputs.
Am I On a Path to Financial Security?
Money is time. Money is freedom. Money is security. Money, money, money – striving to get more is often coupled with avarice and materialism. This is all true – if that’s your goal for getting more money.
Not everyone wants money to buy more things, to keep up with the Joneses, etc. For many people, money means financial security, and that means one thing – freedom. Freedom to pursue work that interests you the most. Freedom to know your future is financially secure.
Money is a top cause of stress for Americans. There are two ways to gain more money:
- Make more money
- Reduce costs
It’s true that every dollar saved is a dollar earned. Reducing unnecessary wants is a way to both reduce expenses and increase peace of mind.
The best things in life are free. Ask yourself what it is that you really want from life and odds are high it isn’t a new television, a bigger home, or a fancy car. These are surface level goals and desires. Money can fill those, but often filling material wants just leads to more material wants. Getting a big house leads to wanting a big house on the water, and so on.
Put your money to work in ways that will produce more money – more freedom. Invest your money in retirement accounts, build an emergency fund, etc. You’ll be glad you did.
Am I Adding Value to the World?
As I mentioned above, the best things in life are often free. The best things in life create internal value, intrinsic happiness, and for many, that means giving, feeling like you are making some contribution to the world and those around you.
You could be adding value to the world in many ways already: being a good parent, volunteering your time, working in a helping profession, etc. Recognize the work you may already be doing and appreciate your own contributions. If you’re coming up short, and feel like you could do more, try it. You could be the biggest beneficiary of your own efforts to add value to the world.
What Should You Have Done Differently?
This question could serve just as well as a first question to ask your future self. Wondering what you should have done differently, theorizing from some future date, is another way to brainstorm what it is you want to do right now.
This is also the question you want to try to avoid facing while on your death bed – regret over things you should have done.
Use this question to think about your approach to achieving future goals. It’s one thing to find the right goals, it’s another to find the right steps to attaining those goals. Wondering what you could have done differently is a way to start that thought process – what is your path?