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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Talk to Your Future Self to Change Your Life

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How to Talk to Your Future Self to Change Your Life

When I was seventeen, I wrote a heartfelt letter to myself to open on my eighteenth birthday. I recapped the events that unfolded during the year; the relationships I have strengthened, the friendships that have fallen out, the things I have come to accept and then the struggle of letting things go. I wrote down the fears and excitement of starting university, and how I thought things would unfold in the year to come.

I’ve carried this tradition every year since then. Some years the letters were five pages long; other times, they were three paragraphs. What doesn’t change is the hope that ends in every letter.

“I hope you have found what you were looking for.”

“I hope you crossed off things in your bucket list.”

“I hope this year was much better for you.”

The letters were always kind and loving, and it made me realize all the ways I didn’t talk to myself the other days of the year. Most times, I was cruel, unkind, and hard on myself.

We have daily conversations with ourselves, and it’s about becoming aware of those conversations and how to talk to your future self to change your life.

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1. Use Writing as a Tool

Writing is an underrated tool. There’s a shift in power when you write things down, and also a way to purging your stream of consciousness.

We accumulate so many thoughts from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep. Sometimes these thoughts turn into pent up frustrations or emotions that carry on to the next morning.

Here are some ways to use writing as a tool as a way to carry healthy conversations with your future self:

Write Letters to Your Future Self

Writing a letter to your future self is a way to paint and imagine the life you want. You fill these letters with hopes, dreams, and goals that you want to achieve. In order to do this, you must first let go of any restrictions you are facing in the present and truly believe the sky is the limit. This is a chance to look at your future self and determine who that person is.

The letter can be written to be opened in five years, a year, or even in a “case of emergency” – during those moments when you need a little reminder.

Remember to be honest and don’t hold back.

Write a Letter from Your Past-Self

I once asked myself, “What Would My Thirteen-Year-Old Self Say to Me Now?[1]” It was a chance to switch perceptions go back to the moment I was most hopeful for my future. It was the moment when every dream was reachable and nothing in life was going to stop me from living my best life.

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Sometimes, we need to go back to that inner child and look at the world from rose colored lenses. The older we become, the easier we let our own reality dictate your dreams and even take the steering wheel.

Write a letter to yourself from that inner child that still exists within you – that child who don’t want you to give up.

Write a List of Books and Authors You like Now

Keep a list of all your favorite passages from books and words of wisdom from your go-to authors. There’s a reason why we are drawn to certain texts, books, and worlds found between the pages. Let this list unleash your creativity and stir different emotions from within.

Need some inspiration? Here is a list of 10 Best Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life.

2. Find These 3 Types of People

A wise man had once told me to always have these 3 types of people in my life – a mentor, a colleague, and a mentee.

Find a Mentor

Having a great mentor can impact your life and your future self in unimaginable ways. But before you start your journey to finding a mentor, you must first get clear on what your goals are and what a good mentor looks like. It doesn’t only come down to the chemistry of the relationship, but also sharing personal values and finding someone willing to teach and offer you advice.

Find someone who is living the lifestyle you want and have accomplished the goals you want to achieve.

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Find a Colleague

In addition to a mentor, you must have someone who is walking alongside with you on your journey; this person can be someone you can relate to, someone who is facing the same difficulties, or someone who shares a similar vision. Where would Harry Potter be without his friends Hermione and Ron? Would high school have been bareable if Cory Matthews didn’t have Shawn or Topanga?

Life isn’t meant to go about alone but in the company of others. Find a partner or a group who will push you and help you navigate the triumphs and trials of your journey.

Find a Mentee

Learning is a two-way street, and there is always an opportunity to learn from others – even from those who may be much younger or less experienced. Having a mentee is just as important as having a mentor and a colleague.

What is the point of carrying all the information in the world if there is no one to pass the knowledge to? By becoming a mentor yourself, you have the opportunity to see certain situations or circumstances from a different perspective. You learn to be compassionate by listening and supporting, all which can help you change the way you speak to your future self.

3. Role Play

Switch to a different role you play and you may perceive things differently.

Ask Yourself: What Would Your Future Self Do?

Our actions today matter and affect how we will be tomorrow and the day after. Ask yourself what your future self would do on a typical Tuesday? Here are some promoting questions:

  • What did you have for breakfast this morning?
  • Where are you working, and how do you feel about it?
  • What book did you finish reading?
  • What shampoo and conditioner are you using?

The little things like visualizing a shampoo brand or a book can help you paint a clearer picture while adding in a bit of character. By doing this, this visualization for yourself starts to feel more real.

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Role Play as Your Archetype

If you haven’t yet taken the 16 Personalities test, now may be a great time to. The test is composed of several questions that determine your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Once the test is completed it will show you which of the 16 archetypes you may be based on your answers – Extrovert/Introvert, Sensors/Intuitives, Thinkers/Feelers, Judgers/Perceivers.

For example, I am an ENFP, also known as the Campaigner. I also share the same archetype as Robert Downey Jr. and Will Smith – two actors I admire for their quick wit and vibrant energy. One way to talk to your future self is looking deeper into your archetype and see if these qualities resonate with you. Then ask yourself, how you are currently portraying this archetype and what qualities do you admire in those who also share your archetype.

The Bottom Line

The way you speak to yourself now is so vital to who you become in the future. As our own being, we play different roles – we have to be our own cheerleader when we hit certain walls, we have to play our own parent to take care of our physical and emotional well-being, and we even play the role as our own lover as we learn to love ourselves completely.

As we switch from role to role, it may get taxing and our conversations may turn negative. Sometimes those negative and harsh conversations never leave.

By finding a mentor to have as guidance, visualizing the ideal version of the future you, and even writing letters from different perspectives are all ways you can learn to change the current conversations you carry with yourself.

More About Living Your Best Life

Featured photo credit: Eliot J. via unsplash.com

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Akina Chargualaf

Akina Chargualaf is an entrepreneur, writer, and the content creator of travel and personal development blog Finding Fifth.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

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How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

Quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world. Some people quit smoking a thousand times in their lives! Everyone knows someone with this mindset.

But this type of change is superficial. It doesn’t last. For real, lasting change to take place, we need to consider the quadrants of change.

Real change, the change that is fundamental, consistent, and longitudinal (lasting over time) has to happen in four quadrants of your life.

It doesn’t have to be quitting smoking; it can be any habit you want to break — drinking, biting your nails, overeating, playing video games, shopping, and more.

Most experts focus on only one area of change, some focus on two areas, but almost none focus on all four quadrants of change. That’s why much of change management fails.

Whether it is in the personal life of a single individual through actions and habits, or in a corporate environment, regarding the way they conduct their business, current change management strategies are lacking.

It all stems from ignoring at least one part of the equation.

So, today, we will cover all four quadrants of change and learn the formula for how to change fundamentally and never go back to your “old self.”

A word of warning: this is simple to do, but it’s not easy. Anyone who tells you that change is easy is either trying to sell you something, or they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Those who want an overnight solution have left the article now, so that leaves you, me, and the real process of change.

The Four Quadrants of Change

There are four areas, or quadrants, in which you need to make a change in order for it to stick. If you miss or ignore a single one of these, your change won’t stick, and you will go back to your previous behavior.

The four quadrants are:

  1. Internal individual – mindset
  2. External individual – behavior
  3. Internal collective – culture/support system
  4. External collective – laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

All four of these quadrants of change may sound like they could carry change all by themselves, but they can’t. So, be sure to implement your change in all four quadrants. Otherwise, it will all be in vain.

First Quadrant — Internal Individual

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of an individual, and it concerns itself with the mindset of a person.

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Our actions stem from our thoughts (most of the time), and if we change our mindset toward something, we will begin to process of changing the way we act.

People who use the law of attraction fall into this category, where they’ve recognized the strength of thoughts and how they make us change ourselves.

Even Lao Tzu had a great saying regarding this:

“Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.” [1]

One of the most impactful ways you can make a change in this quadrant is to implement what James Clear calls identity-based habits. [2]

Instead of prioritizing the outcome of a change (ex.: I want to lose 20 pounds), you prioritize your identity as a person (I want to become/remain a healthy person).

Here are a couple of examples for you to see the strength of this kind of resolution:

I want to watch many movies = I am a cinema lover
I want to clean my apartment = I am a clean person
I want to harvest my crops = I am a harvester (farmer)
I want to swim = I am a swimmer

This quadrant is about changing the identity you attach to a certain action. Once you re-frame your thinking in this way, you will have completed the first of the quadrants of change.

Second Quadrant — External Individual

This quadrant focuses on the external world of an individual and concerns itself with the behavior of a person.

This is where people like Darren Hardy, the author of the Compound Effect reside. Hardy is about doing small, consistent actions that will create change in the long run (the compound effect).

You want to lose 30 pounds? Start by eating just 150 calories (approximately two slices of bread) less a day, and in two and a half years, you will have lost 30 pounds.

The same rules apply to business, investing, sports, and multiple other areas. Small, consistent actions can create big changes.

This works — I’ve read 20 extra pages a day for the past two years, and it accumulated into 90 books read in two years. [3]

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Here, you have two ways of dealing with change behaviorally: negative environmental design and positive environmental design.

Negative Environmental Design

This is when you eliminate the things from your environment that revert you to the old behavior. If you want to stop eating ice cream, you don’t keep it in your freezer.

If you want to stop watching TV, you remove the batteries from the remote and put them on the other side of the house (it works!).

Positive Environmental Design

This is when you put the things that you want to do withing reach — literally!

You want to learn how to play guitar? Put your guitar right next to your sofa. You want to head to the gym? Put the gym clothes in a backpack and put it on top of your shoes.

You want to read more books? Have a book on your nightstand, your kitchen table, and on the sofa.

You can even combine this last trick with my early advice about removing the batteries from your remote control, combining the negative and positive environmental designs for maximum effect.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

If you just change your behavior and leave your intentions (thoughts) intact, your discipline will fail you and the real change won’t happen.

You will simply revert back to the previous behavior because you haven’t changed the fundamental root of why this problem occurs in the first place.

That is why you need to create change both in the first quadrant (internal individual — mindset) and the second quadrant (external individual — behavior). These quadrants of change are two sides of the same coin.

Most change management would stop here, and that’s why most change management fails.

No matter how much you focus on yourself, there are things that affect our lives that are happening outside of us. That is the focus of the two remaining quadrants.

Third Quadrant — Internal Collective

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the culture of that collective.

There are two different distinctions here: the Inner Ring and the Outer Ring.

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The Inner Ring

These are your friends and your family. The Inner Ring is the place where the social and cultural norms of your friends and family rule.

So, if everyone in your family is overweight and every lunch is 1,000 calories per person, then you can say goodbye to your idea of becoming healthy.

In this case, the culture of your group, the inner norms that guide the decisions, actions, thoughts, ideas, and patterns of behaviors are all focused on eating as much as possible. [4]

You need to have the support of your Inner Ring if you want to achieve change. If you don’t have this support, the the best way to proceed is by either changing your entire Inner Ring or distancing yourself from it.

Beware — most Inner Rings won’t accept the fact that you want to change and will undermine you on many occasions — some out of habit, some due to jealousy, and some because supporting you would mean that they have to change, too.

You don’t have to cut ties with people, but you can consciously decide to spend less time with them.

The Outer Ring

The Outer Ring consists of the culture of your company, community, county, region, and country. For example, it’s quite hard to be an open-minded person in North Nigeria, no matter how you, your friends, and your family think.

The Outer Ring is the reason why young people move to the places that share their value systems instead of staying in their current city, county, or country.

Sometimes, you need to change your Outer Ring as well because its culture is preventing you from changing.

I see this every single day in my country, where the culture can be so toxic that it doesn’t matter how great of a job you have or how great your life currently looks — the culture will change you, inch by inch, until you become like it.

Fourth Quadrant — External Collective

This quadrant focuses on the external world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the systems, teams, laws, and rules of that collective.

This quadrant is about the external manifestations of the collective culture. If the majority of the environment thinks in a certain way, they will create institutions that will implement that way of thinking.

The same rules apply to companies.

One example for companies would be those managers who think that employees are lazy, lack responsibility, and need constant supervision (or what is called Theory X in management).

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Then, those managers implement systems that reflect that kind of culture– no flexible work hours, strict rules about logging work, no remote work, etc.

Your thoughts, however, may be different. You might believe that people want responsibility, that they are capable of self-direction, that they can make good decisions, and that managers don’t need to stand on their necks if they want something done (this is called Theory Y in management).

Then, you would want to have flexible working hours, different ways of measuring your productivity (for example, not time on the job but work produced), and remote work, if possible for your profession.

This is when you enter into a conflict with the external collective quadrant. Here, you have four options: leave, persevere, neglect, and voice.

Leave

You can simply leave the company/organization/community/country and go to a different place. Most people decide to do this.

Persevere

This is when you see that the situation isn’t good, but you decide to stick at it and wait for the perfect time (or position) where you can implement change.

Neglect

This is where you give up on the change you want to see and just go with the flow, doing the minimal work necessary to keep the status quo.

These are the people who are disengaged at work and are doing just the bare minimum necessary (which, in the U.S. is around 65% of the workforce).

I did this only once, and it’s probably the only thing I regret doing in my life.

Voice

This is where you actively work on changing the situation, and the people in charge know that you want to create a change.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your company, community, or your country; you are actively calling for a change and will not stop until it’s implemented.

Putting It All Together

When you take it all into account, change is simple, in theory, but it isn’t easy to execute. It takes work in all four quadrants:

  1. Internal individual — mindset
  2. External individual — behavior
  3. Internal collective — culture/support system
  4. External collective — laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

Some will require more work, some less, but you will need to create a change in all four of them.

But don’t let that discourage you because change is possible, and many people have done this. The best time to start changing was yesterday, but the second best time is today.

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Featured photo credit: Djim Loic via unsplash.com

Reference

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