My 80-year-old self. My north star. My wisest mentor.
I’ve worked hard to create a loving and productive relationship with her.
She never leads me astray. She’s never unkind to me. She always guides me in the right direction.
She is warm and loving and hilarious and feisty and loves to dance and sing and strives to find joy and delight in the day-to-day.
She delights in learning new things and making bold fashion choices.
Also? She takes no shit and suffers no fools. She is NOT f*cking around when it comes to her happiness.
Simply put, I love her. My major goal in life is to be her. And to do that, I check in with and seek her counsel often.
2015 Jen was…how shall I put it…a miserable cow.
My life was #blessed but I felt anything but. My smiley happy-go-lucky front hid a world of pain inside.
The source of the pain ended up being unresolved trauma from an emotionally and psychologically abusive childhood but I didn’t realize it at the time. (That’s a story for another day.)
I would lie awake at night worried about who would come to my funeral and then feel embarrassed when I realized it would most likely only be my husband (if he was still alive) and my children and their families.
I had created a very lonely, isolated life for myself and NO ONE WOULD KNOW. So on top of the heart-aching loneliness, I felt like a fraud and wondered when someone would “find me out”.
My biggest fear was that I was going to be a bitter, resentful, lonely old woman.
Here’s the kicker though…I also had a vision of old lady Jen who was vibrant and jumping out of airplanes if she wanted to…who was surrounded with laughter and love and adventure in spite of her aging body.
She still laughed at farts and dirty jokes. She still found delight in her sensual body.
When I almost walked away from my marriage and was stripped bare of my ego, I realized I had a choice.
Keep going down the path of becoming a bitter, old, resentful woman…
Figure my shit out and work on becoming the vision I had in my head.
Both were plausible. One excited me and one filled me with dread.
I made a conscious and bold decision to battle my demons and choose the path that excited me.
How wonderful would it be to have our wisest selves guide our decisions and actions EVEN WHEN life is chaotic and angsty? EVEN WHEN we just don’t feel like it?
A mentor who knows you inside and out.
A mentor who always has your back.
A mentor who only wants the very best for you.
A mentor who is always there at a moment’s notice.
Want more proof? Researchers found in a 2011 study that people are more likely to make choices in favor of a future self they can visualize and empathize with.
How powerful is that?!?!?!?!?!
There are lots of ways to get to know your future self…here are some of my very favorites.
Literally. Become besties.
I like to start with my eldest self…in this case, my 80-year-old self. If this feels too hard, start with you 5 or 10 years from now.
Get to know her. Ask her questions about how she spends her days, whom she’s spending them with, what makes her laugh, what her home is like, what brings her joy, what new skills she’s learning, the clothes she wears, etc.
Get super detailed and specific. And for the love of all that’s holy…have fun! This is meant to be a joyful activity.
This one is super fun.
Create a Pinterest board full of images that remind you of her and then refer to it often.
Use it to motivate and energize you when life isn’t quite going the way you’d like.
Use it as a way to check in with yourself…are you living life NOW in a way that makes her life possible? If not – time to course-correct!
What would she want you to know? What advice does she have for you?
I personally like to do this daily…I write a quick note from my future self to my current self with any words of encouragement I need to hear, help with decision-making, etc.
This daily exercise (it legit takes me less than 5 mins) helps me always keep her front of mind and in relationship with her and the wisdom she has for me.
Sit in a quiet place and take a few deep breaths until you’re out of your head and in your body.
Ask her how she’s doing and what she most needs you to know right now. Set your ego aside for a moment and let your heart listen to what advice she has for you.
Does this feel weird at first? Absolutely. Is it the most helpful piece of this work? Without a doubt. Let yourself feel silly at first because I promise…being in conversation with her is so so worth it.
She guided me in my healing from childhood traumas and wounds.
She helped me mend my marriage.
She helped me find my group of ride-or-die girlfriends.
Most recently, she helped me bring more color into my wardrobe in the form of fuschia Doc Marten’s, Wilma Flinstone inspired Converse high-tops, the coolest kimono, and new hoops earrings.
Why is this important? Because it’s me embracing my large body and dressing in ways that bring pleasure and delight to me instead of waiting for “someday” to have a body I love and want to adorn.
I’m adorning and adoring and loving this body NOW because future me can’t be bothered by someday thinking.
And that’s prettttty f*cking powerful…wouldn’t you say?!
To sum it up:
This is exactly the work I do with 1:1 clients…using my SELFISH framework, we start with desire by creating a vision of your future self that has you beyond excited to become her, from the inside out, we identify the gaps between who you are now and who you want to be and create actions that are intentional, inspired, and move you closer and closer to living your F*CK YEAH life.
Ready to design the future YOU want starting TODAY?
Try my unique spin on the future self exercise and see how good it can feel to "do the work"
it's 100% free & you'll be doing your own work in no time
Stop wishing & start doing; Don't leave life to chance
Jen Vertanen is a Life Design Coach for action-takers who are ready to "do the work" to fully love their damn lives