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The Wisdom of Future-You

curiosity future-you limiting beliefs personal growth shame Nov 04, 2023

 For changes to be successful, you need to believe it’s possible.


Think back to a time, likely years ago, before you became a physician (or a parent or insert-your-title-here). There was a time when you were excited, nervous, and not sure what the future would hold. But, you believed that it was possible. In order to become __________, to some extent you had to believe it was possible for you to do so.

No one goes to medical school NOT believing it remotely possible that they would finish. We may have had some doubt, some anxiety about how it would happen, etc, but we didn’t consider it impossible.

So why then, years later, do we expect to make changes that we think aren’t possible? That we’ll never succeed in starting an exercise program, getting our notes done, or feeling better?

To be fair, years of negativity bias in our brains, culture (including the burnout that exists within the medical culture), and a seemingly endless acceleration in the number of responsibilities we inherit are working against us here.

And still, it’s important that we return to, and practice cultivating a belief in our ability to achieve whatever it is that we are trying for. Shame, self-judgment, and futility are terrible teachers; although shame in particular has been held up as a “necessary” driver against failure, studies show that at best it is a temporary master only, and at worst continually erodes our self-worth and progress.

To make progress, we need encouragement, milestones, and the ability to see an outcome for ourselves.

So let me re-introduce you to belief in Future-You

Future-You is not unknown to you; again, you could see yourself as a successful physician in the past. You could envision them, how they would spend their time, what priorities they would have, maybe how they would look or behave. And then you could start to make steps forward. Your life as Present-You might have been more simple (perhaps you were a college student, with no kids, no partner, no pets, minimal responsibilities for example) than it is today, but that doesn’t have to mean that you can’t envision Future-You from where you are now. You may just need to practice.

So sit with me for a minute, and close your eyes. What is it that you are wanting? Pick one thing to focus on, something that seems reasonable (I would argue, that for most of us, this isn’t going to be becoming the next Beyonce or the next president). If you are wanting to develop a new habit for example, exercising, what is that Future-You version? Are they someone who is training for a marathon? Or has a locked-in habit of Peleton-ing 5 days per week? 

Create an image in your mind of this version of yourself, and then ask yourself: What does this version of me know that I don’t know now?

How do they overcome obstacles related to time (work schedule, home schedule, time of day, etc)?

What do they think of themselves in relation to this goal?

How did they stay motivated when stress or a bad mood or a setback got in the way?

How did they talk to themselves if something didn’t go well (missed a workout for a day, a week, a month, etc)?

The version of you that is successful has a different perspective from Present-You. They know that things didn’t go perfectly every day, and that conditions were never “just so.” They know that inspiration and motivation come and go, and that they had to practice following through even when they didn’t “feel” like it. 

Just like Present-You knows things that Past-You didn’t know, and couldn’t have imagined about being a ________. Things weren’t always perfect or easy or inspiring on your journey to this point, and they won’t be on your way to your next destination either.

Life will continue to life on you. Create a vision of Future-You to pull you through the challenges.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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