Envisioning Your Future Self
Picture yourself in 10 years. What will you be doing? Will you be better off? How might you change?
You might assume that if you make optimistic predictions about your future, you will end up being happier than you are now.
New research from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that assumption to be untrue. The research, which was published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, found that those who expected to be better or worse off in the future reported less satisfaction after 10 years than those who expected to be the same.
“The more people initially predicted that they would remain the same—whether predicting less decline or less improvement across a number of core traits—the more satisfied they typically were with their lives 10 years later,” says Joseph Reiff, the lead author of this research.
Why might this be?
Previous research has found that people who are better able to envision a future self are more likely to save for the future, delay gratification and take care of their health than those who feel less connected to their future selves. This means that you might be denying yourself pleasures in the present and lowering your satisfaction and happiness over time.
Reiff and his colleagues analyzed a 10-year longitudinal dataset (N = 4,963) to determine how thoughts about one’s future self in an initial survey predicted life satisfaction 10 years later.
When coaching, it might be helpful to for both you and your clients to remain mindful of the “sacrifices” they are making to accomplish their goals. You could then co-create a plan for how they can still achieve satisfaction and happiness in their lives.