The future may be uncertain, but there are things you can do to help you achieve future success and happiness. One of these is maximizing your imagination and visualizing every possible future. Yes, mental time travel practice can help you craft a better future.
Imagine Waking Up Tomorrow Morning
To help condition your mind to embrace challenges and attain future happiness and success, use the next 30 seconds to imagine yourself waking up tomorrow morning. Develop a clear picture in your head. To make the scene as clear as possible, ask yourself questions like these: Which space or room are you in? Is it still dark, or is there light already? What exactly are you wearing?
Then, is there someone beside you? What usually wakes you up? Is it your alarm? Is it the loud voice of your mother? Is it the sunlight? What’s your mood upon waking up? What do you do first when you’re already awake? Do you check the time? Do you enjoy your morning cup of coffee? Continue visualizing what your tomorrow morning looks like. With such a quick mental time travel practice, you’ve already started imagining your future, complete with vivid details.
Imagine Waking Up One Year From Now
It’s now time to take your imagination to the next level, so for the next 30 seconds, imagine yourself waking up exactly one year from now. Picture this out as vividly as you can. You can alter several details from the first scene that you visualized. Have you changed physically? Are you in a different room or space? What kind of mood do you have now? Has your morning routine changed? What could be your new habit?
Just continue exploring what your morning one year from now looks like. Be aware of how you’re able to answer those questions quickly and come up with a scenario or how much you strived to create clear details.
Imagine Waking Up 10 Years From Now
Do you think one year is not too far? Try to imagine yourself waking up a decade from now. There’s no need to rush. Spend as much time as you need to create a vivid image in your mind. Where are you by then? What do you see around you? Who is with you? What do you feel? What’s the first thing that crossed your mind as you woke up?
Are there any changes with you physically? What activities are you planning for the day? In this act of imagination, do not treat it like a fantasy. Instead, stick to what you think and feel will happen to you realistically. If you’re struggling to imagine yourself 10 years from today, it’s best to write clear descriptions of what you think your future will be.
Among the three acts of imagination, you might find the 10-year challenge most difficult. That’s because you’re unsure of what you should expect, especially since you’ve never been that old yet. One decade could mean so many changes in different aspects, including your life, relationships, and even your body. As your mind captures this unknowability, you have a blank space to fill in and entertain a wide range of possibilities. Thus, be intentional when choosing what future you’d like to imagine.
While this level of imagination requires conscious effort, it’s also what makes it strong and effective. Your brain needs to come up with a new possibility rather than just recall what it already knows. Moreover, it makes use of your experiences, your fears, and aspirations, and your perception of the possibilities and changes in 10 years.
Revisit Your New Memory and Reassess
Once you’ve created new possibilities, what used to be unimaginable is already within your reach. You can then go back to these new memories as you please. Then, assess yourself. How do they make you feel? Do they elicit good or bad emotions? Do you need to do something different, so you can turn your imagined future into reality? Given that you’re the one who created such new memories, you’re free to change them as well anytime you want.
With this kind of mental time travel practice, your brain allows you to imagine and feel the future vividly like you’re already at that point in time. You’re not really escaping from reality — you’re simply playing with it. As a result, you see the different opportunities and risks you might have missed before.
Thus, you’re not daydreaming and hoping that all your problems are wiped away in an instant. Rather, you’re building a strong connection with yourself — with who you are now and who you might be in the future. Moreover, given that mental time travel lets you see various possible futures, you can use them to help make informed decisions and stay motivated.
When practicing mental time travel, you undergo different stages too, including scene constriction, opportunity detection, and the feelings kicking in.
This stage is like preparing for a theatrical play, like the set, props, and actors. You are creating the future world mentally. This includes looking for realistic ideas and details. In particular, the hippocampus determines what things are most substantial. Afterward, they’re merged, resulting in a new scene.
All the things that you see in your future start from the information processed in your brain. Once your imagination of the seemingly impossible things improves, you also have a higher chance of including not just simple ideas but amazing events too, which may be crucial in your future success and happiness.
Thus, your mental time travel practice should include filling your brain with clues or clear examples of fresh ideas that can help you mold a brighter future. With these clues to the future, you can construct more exciting and surprising things.
During this stage of mental time travel, you find different ways to satisfy your needs and materialize your goals. Let’s say you find yourself lonely upon waking up 10 years from now, what will your future self do? Who’s the person you’ll approach? If you wake up hungry, what will your future self most likely eat? Moreover, if you wake up exhausted, what’s the first thing future you will do? With opportunity detection, you try to locate your source of motivation, including what exactly you want in a particular scene.
Your brain will then help you identify your goals — including the previous ones — and your motivations. Such motivations are often related to your core values and needs — whether these include prioritizing your family, learning new things, expressing yourself through art, or spreading kindness.
With the help of your motivation and reward system, you can figure out certain actions that will give you the best results. For example, you’ll know what helps relieve your stress, whether that includes having a bite of chocolate, being alone in your room, reading a book, decluttering, or simply appreciating nature.
It’s also beneficial to allot about five minutes to do things you have never tried before. Through these micro-actions, you’ll know which strategies will work. As a result, you can explore more imaginable things that will come in handy in the future.
While your brain lets you imagine the future, you can anticipate what your emotions will be in the future. These include excitement, fear, happiness, curiosity, relief, hope, anxiety, loneliness, confusion, frustration, and jealousy. Through these different feelings, you’ll know whether the type of future you’re imagining is what you truly want. At the same time, you can determine what actions you should take today to make that kind of future happen.
Moreover, all emotions that you feel during your mental time travel are real. They can be equally powerful with your current emotions. It’s also the same reason that many people prefer imagining all the good things instead of the scary and depressing ones. However, taking the time to imagine unpleasant and frightening things also helps prepare you to be strong and create a more favorable future.
While the future can be scary, it can also be full of happiness and success. By imagining yourself waking up tomorrow morning, a year from today, or a decade from now, you can equip yourself, decide better, and take the appropriate actions to help turn your imagined future into reality. Practice mental time travel today to help welcome a better and brighter future.