Rather than setting a list of “me-too” goals,
why not imagine the “what if” of our future selves?
Think of your future and fill in the blank: “What if _____?
In a recent TED talk, psychologist Dan Gilbert examined the tension between the “ease of remembering vs. the difficulty of imagining.” In short, we can remember who we were but have difficulty imagining who we will be.
The New Year always brings with it the promise of a new calendar and the hopes for something better. The “better” can be occupational (locate a new job), physical (maintain a healthy weight), spiritual (find meaning and connection), or social (nurture nutritious relationships).
You probably have read or heard about the research concerning the short life span of most New Year’s resolutions. For whatever reason, the dreams turn to fantasies and fade away in disappointment or rationalization. Some people simply set unrealistic goals. Others have difficulty breaking down their meaningful goals into small manageable steps. Some lack discipline (stick-to-itiveness!).
Perhaps a challenge lies in the initial imagining. Maybe they don’t ask the right questions of themselves. In his book, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, Warren Berger suggests we ask ourselves three questions to help move us to levels we may not be imagining:
- What if?
Which got me to thinking. Rather than setting a list of “me-too” goals, why not imagine the what if of our future selves? Fill in the blank: “What if _______? If you are having a little difficulty imagining what could be, use the following questions to jump-start your imagination:
- What if I surrounded myself with my own Board of Directors (corporations and colleges have one; why not me)?
- What if I saw the world through the eyes of a child?
- What if I take more time to step back and view my life from a 30,000 foot perspective?
- What if I get off the train of knowledge and board the train of wonder?
- What if I could identify and eliminate those habits that slow me down?
- What if I surrounded myself with as many nutritious people as possible (and, conversely, what if minimize my time with energy vampires)?
- What if I became more nutritious for those around me?
- What if I begin/complete the project I have been thinking about for years?
- What if I focused more on strengths and possibilities and less on challenges and obstacles?
- What if I got more involved with my community?
- What if I risked more and feared less?
Video recommendation for the week:
Every day, every year, every encounter is full of possibilities. Listen to Dan Gilbert speak about the psychology of the future.
What if 2015 is the year you start turning more of your possibilities into realities?
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) with friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli). If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment.
Information on my book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.
(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.