Investing in the Future You. Are you choosing or are you letting someone else choose for you?
I spend all day every day thinking about and talking about why someone else is uniquely awesome. Getting to explain to someone why they’re uniquely awesome is one of my favorite things to do.
But before I start down the path of someone’s fabulousness, I ask them where they want to go, who they want to be, and what future they see for themselves. Why? Because context matters. The Fairy Godmother did not dress Cinderella in a pair of fly sneakers and hip athleisure wear. Why? Because Cinderella needed to go to a ball, and not a basketball game.
And yet when I ask this question, it’s rare for me to get an answer. Or at least an answer that can supply enough context to the situation. I get it. In a world ripe with ambiguity, a society that demands perfection, a culture where success is defined by more, thinking about the Future You makes me want to grab a pint of Smitten Ice Cream.
But if you don’t invest in the Future You, someone else will decide for you. Right?
So how does one get started?
Any adventure starts with a little audit. Take a pen and paper (we’re going old school here) and write down the following headers:
- Present You
- Confident You
- Bigger Than You
- Future You
- Just For You
Under each of the headings, I want you to estimate the percentage of your time (day, week, month, year — you choose the time horizon) you’re spending on each category.
What do they mean? Let me explain.
Time you’re spending on the non-negotiables. The things that are in your day that just are to keep you and your people going. Examples? Eating and sleeping are an essential start to your list. If you’re a parent, I’m guessing there’s another chunk of time you should consider. If you have a job, what are the parts of your role that need immediate action? Everything? Then put all your work time in this bucket. There are no wrong answers here. How much of you is reacting to the present?
Time you’re spending experiencing a value return. This one is a little trickier as you may have included some of this in the “Present You” bucket. But that’s why we’re using pen and paper; we can change the answers. The “Confident You” is time you’re spending doing things where you provide unique value due to your experience and particular skills. Writing this article is tapping into my “Confident You” bucket. I’m combining my unusual set of skills to share an idea with people. I’m actively providing value and, I hope, will provide outsized value to both of us.
Bigger Than You:
Time you’re spending that might have an impact on something. “I want to do work that has impact..” is something I hear quite often. What that impact is — volunteering, going green, marching for someone else’s rights — is entirely up to you.
Time you’re spending investing in the Future You. Every meal and workout is a literal investment in the Future You. What about in the workplace? Are you investing time in learning new things, expanding your network, discussing ideas? We all know that if you focus on a future goal, you’ll get there eventually.
Just For You:
Time you’re spending on yourself. I was about to write about being selfish and indulgent but stopped myself as those words are rife with judgment and self-loathing. But give yourself a break here. It’s 100% ok to have some YOU time. Even if that YOU time is mindlessly scrolling through Tic Tok videos.
Here’s my only question. Are you happy with your percentage breakouts? If you are happy, fantastic, you keep doing you. If you’re not happy, also fantastic, now you know and can make some choices for yourself.
I know when I did this exercise for myself, I put my hand in the air and said “NO” loudly. I didn’t want to face what I saw on the page. But what I know, and you also know, is that denial means that someone else would define the Future Me. Yes, if you don’t choose, someone else will.
Remember that I said this was the first step. There are more to come. I also know you’re smart enough to know that a “10 Steps to maximize your time.” isn’t the solution.
So what do you choose?
And here’s the thing, if you’re not thinking about the Future Them of your team and choosing for them, then you’re dictating, you’re not leading. Read more about that here.