Fighting Self-Sabotage with Time Travel

I’m going to share with you a nifty little trick you can use to travel into your future and your past and change things. No joke. And yes, I’m going to rely mainly on the power of your mind, but that’s ok, because that’s how you experience time anyway.

Step One: Get in touch with your Future Self

You know who I’m talking about. The person you imagine you could be – or the person you want to be. This may be someone with more money, or with better health habits, or maybe someone who writes every day on the novel that Future You is the author of. Maybe it’s simpler: Future You is playing a board game with your kids, enjoying their company. Maybe they’re at a museum, or volunteering at a food pantry, or…well, you get the picture.

You know who that person is. Maybe you try not to think of them too much, because as Buddha said, “the measure of your suffering is the difference between the way the world is and the way you think the world should be,” but really, this time that Future Self is your ally.

So close your eyes, and imagine that Future Self that is the person you really want to be.

Step Two: Establish the Objective

Now that you’re in touch with Future You, ask a question: Hey, Future-me, what do you wish Now-me had done to make things better?

There could be many answers. It’s easy to figure out, because I promise you that Now-You has spent time berating Past-You for things you wish they’d done. Wanna see me do it?

  • Practice guitar more.
  • Don’t date that person. But don’t let that other person go!
  • Daily yoga. I don’t care if it’s boring, do it.

…and so forth. But Past-me didn’t know this trick, so that stuff doesn’t matter. We’re talking about Now-You talking with Future-You.

What would have made Now-Me becoming Future-Me easier? (Yes, I’m aware the tenses are getting a little weird, but what did Past-You expect when they started reading a blog post about time travel?).

Now, it’s important that you don’t stop here. Because the fact is, I did say to myself many times in the past “I’m going to do yoga every day”. But as I mentioned, I didn’t really understand this trick as well as I do now, so I have an intermittent yoga practice instead.

Step Three: Get in the Way

You know what Future-You needs to have happen – but that’s Future-You, and they have (at best) hazy memories of what Now-You is actually going through. They don’t really remember how hard it is to get up in the morning, or how alluring that Netflix series is, or how amazingly delicious the Gravy Hose can be. No, they are sitting there reaping the benefits of the work that Now-You still has to do, smugly taking credit.

Ok, yes, maybe they’re entitled to take that credit. But it’s ok to resent them a little, because Now-You still has to do the work.

And notice I’m not saying it’s The Work. Nope, I’m talking about the little w, the tiny steps that are required to get to Future-You. And this is where you have to let Future-You inhabit your brain for a moment, looking around at your environment:

Where can I get in my way?

That is, Now-You has a particular way of doing things. If there are any parts of that particular way that do not lead to Future-You, then that particular way needs to be interrupted. It’s the classic time-travel scenario: I placed the magazine on their bedside table; now they’ll be inspired to invent the magic whatsit. Or I hid their shoes so they were late for the bus and on the walk to work they met their true love.

Except now it’s Future-You using Now-You to change things. Here’s an example:

Now-Me gets up and walks right past the yoga mat in the corner every morning and picks up the phone to check Twitter. Tonight, though, Future-Me is going to have Now-Me power down the phone completely and also put the yoga mat in the middle of the floor. Yoga will be easier than waiting for the phone to boot up!

Maybe it’s taking all the icons off your computer desktop except your writing app (or better, shutting down your computer every night but making it so when you start it the first thing that opens is your writing app). Maybe it’s putting the salad in the front of the refrigerator. Maybe it’s hiding the TV remote at work and leaving a board game out on the table tonight.

It’s a little thing – and it’s almost certainly not the only thing that Future-You needs help with – but it’s something. And it’s time travel, because Future-You is looking back to the past and saying Wow, if it weren’t for that thing, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

That “now” is a good place to go. There’s only one way that you’ll get there, though:

Start traveling.

Another way that Future-You can enjoy the Future is by helping to support this blog! If you feel like you’d buy me a cup of coffee, how about doing it literally via my Patreon page? Every little bit helps!

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