The first time I remember reading about “your future self” was in Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. She gave the example of preparing the coffee machine the night before so all you had to do was enjoy your coffee the next day. It isn’t about saving time necessarily, but rather thinking of what your future self might want.
I admit that I struggle thinking about my future self in a professional sense. In the past, I indiscriminately sowed a lot of seeds only to find myself choked by an overgrown garden. I know now this was largely because of the scarcity mindset that comes out of graduate student + adjunct life (what if I never get another chance like this?). If I realize I made a past decision that worked out well for me in the present, I’m often pleasantly surprised (like making all my spring classes virtual back in August).
To be fair, academia makes it hard to plan for your future self. We have all the familiar uncertainty of life (will I get that job, be accepted to that conference) coupled with having to make decisions so far in advance (looking at you book order for fall 2022) AND having wildly variable timelines for things that are outside our control (when you hear back about a publication, for example). All this plus what I’m calling the pandemic-pile-up is enough for anyone to throw up their hands and hope for the best.
But what if we took a moment to really think about our future professional selves? What would that look like? If we do get that grant, hear back about that article, have to design that class…what will that mean for my future self? Will all this be manageable? Will it leave any room for things that pop up? Will I have time to think about my future self again or will I be so swamped that the cycle just repeats?
I’m trying to be better about thinking for my future self. There’s ample resources on the net for making six year plans and such to help you with the exercise of thinking ahead. Just keep in mind that plans will change and that’s okay. It’s the thought for your future self that counts. Be kind to and excited for her.
How do you think for your future self? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Stay tuned for more posts this year about teaching, research, and academia. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @litambitions and Instagram: @ecacademic (where I really nerd out about planning). You can also follow this blog (see the email subscribe button on the home page). Btw, I am happy to announce that I recently launched a biweekly podcast called Vita Abundantior in which I conduct interviews with awesome women and ask them how they go about living such abundant lives (avail on all major streaming platforms). Next episode is dropping on February 27th 2022!