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Take a moment and project forward. Get in your time machine and travel 20 years into the future: who is the future version of yourself you hope to meet? What does that person look like?
We don’t think about this person often enough. When you don’t intentionally think about becoming the person you want to be, you just end up becoming the person you are.
How often do you think about this future version of yourself and how are you taking actions now to become the person you want to be?
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- When you don’t intentionally think about becoming the person you want to be, you end up becoming the person you are.
- Accepting your mortality gives you power in the present.
- Consider both what you want to accomplish and the kind of person you want to become.
- If you have a clear picture of your 20 year self, it starts to inform how you spend your next five years.
- The act of building towards your future vision and seeing it through will bring you lasting joy.
- Make your actions toward your goals more specific.
- Repeat the last six months of your life 40 times to know who you’ll be in 20 years.
- Think of your vision of your future self as a north star that guides how you live today.
- The greatest road block between us and our ideal future selves is that we don’t think about where we want to be—we just live our lives.
- Set “unrealistic” goals unless you want a “realistic” life.
- 04:19 Sean: Who do you want to be in 20 years? That’s my question for you. Take a moment right now and project forward. Get in your time machine. Laci found out that I have only kind of sort of watched most of part of Back to the Future.
- 04:42 Ben: Are you serious? Sean, you haven’t seen Back to the Future in its entirety, start to finish, episodes one, two, and three?
- 05:15 Sean: So, I need to see it. Maybe I’m not qualified to say this, but I would say, get in your time machine and travel 20 years into the future. Who is the future version of yourself that you hope to meet? What does that person look like? We don’t often think of this person.
- 05:50 Ben: Marty goes 30 years into the future, and he actually gets to witness his 30 year older self.
- 06:03 Sean: We don’t think about this person often enough, the future version of ourselves.
- 06:23 I want people to think more intentionally about the future version of themselves and how they’re taking action to become that person now.
- 06:33 Ben: You know what’s kind of a fun exercise? Also, think back 20 years, or however many years into the past, where you can remember thinking about a future version of yourself. I’m sure that many of us have done that at some point. In the past, we thought about where we wanted to be in 5, 10, 20 years, depending on how old you were. You had some kind of vision of what that would look like. I think that’s also a good starting point. What does your present self look like compared to the vision you had to yourself?
- 07:12 Compare that or think about that in light of the actions you’ve taken, the choices you’ve made. It allows you to look inside and see what was really going on to lead you to this place where you are today.
- 07:34 Sean: This was one of the questions that shocked me, but three people starred it before the show started, and that was, “Why should I care about who I’ll be in 20 years?” What do you think, Ben?
- 07:48 Ben: I feel like if I answer this, it’s going to spoil the show.
- 07:53 Sean: We leave it as retorical and get into it?
- 07:55 Ben: Yeah, I think so. As we go through this show, it’s going to answer that question. We’ll circle back to it.
- 08:02 Sean: We’ve got three general parts of this episode: Imagine, Plan, and Act.
When you don’t intentionally think about becoming the person you want to be, you end up becoming the person you are.
- 08:11 Sean: I don’t think you’re thinking about the future version of yourself often enough. I don’t think you have a clear enough picture of this person. I don’t think people really think about it. I want you to get a vision of this person that you want to be. I want you to really be able to picture this person. I have a few questions for you to help you get a visual of them.
- 08:33 The first question is, how old are they? Cory thought this was funny. He was like, “Sean, that’s so easy. You add 20 to your current age.” I was like, “Good job, Cory. You get an A+.” It’s actually kind of a trick question, though. It’s not supposed to be hard. Obviously, to envision the future version of yourself 20 years from now, to figure out how old they are, you add 20 years to how old you are today.
- 08:58 I get that. I want you to really think about that number and that age. Imagine what you look like then. Do you have grey hair? Do you already have grey hair now, and will that future version of you be wrinklier? I want you to really picture this person. I asked the question because I want you to get a picture that you can hold onto.
- 09:32 Think about this person. You’re meeting them. You’re stepping out of the time machine. I imagine, if there was a movie called Back to the Future or something, there would be a time machine, and maybe there’s smoke or fog coming off of the machine as you step out.
- 09:46 Ben: You’re not supposed to interact with your future or past self.
- 09:50 Sean: So you can’t shake their hand?
- 09:52 Ben: No. That would create a rift in time and space. This was all in the movie, Sean. Imagine you could actually meet and talk to your future self.
- 10:05 Sean: What has this person accomplished? Here’s a weird one. What have they yet to accomplish? I think that’s also important. What are their goals and dreams? You might think, “Okay, 20 years from now, hopefully I will have accomplished the things I want to have accomplished now, the things I’m thinking about today.” What are their hopes and dreams? What have they yet to accomplish? Cory wanted a few of these added. How do they act? How do they treat people? Do you want to elaborate on those, Cory?
- 10:48 Cory: Jordan was just asking about the difference between who we want to be and what we want to be—the things we’ve accomplished or the kind of person that you are. How are you naturally treating people? How do you act? Are you happy? Are you content? What are you striving for? These are all great questions. You’ll only be as happy as you are now, and you have to be okay with that. I thought it would be interesting if we brought in personal questions about who you want to be, what kind of person you are.
- 11:28 Sean: What do you think, Ben? What do you see or picture when you hear these questions?
- 11:43 Ben: Very similar to fine wine, I sweeten with age. It’s one of those things where, as I age, I get some wrinkles. It’s endearing. It’s like George Clooney. He just keeps getting better and better looking. I definitely see myself achieving some of the successes that I’m striving for today. My children are older, so I think a lot about my family 20 years from now. They’re probably starting families of their own. That’s kind of weird. I imagine myself being in a position to be able to travel as needed, to visit my kids and their families and have the financial independence to be able to do fun things with them.
- 13:02 Sean: Do you think that if you went grey, would you dye your hair to resist that?
- 13:10 Ben: No.
- 13:11 Sean: You would embrace it. I think I would embrace it. I feel like my outward appearance finally aligns.
- 13:22 Ben: I’m going to be very healthy.
- 13:25 Sean: I feel like I’m older.
- 13:28 Ben: Yeah. I feel like you’re older, too, Sean.
- 13:32 Sean: I would be 47 in 20 years.
- 13:35 Ben: You look 12, but you seem like you’re 40. People who take care of themselves, who keep themselves physically healthy, you can tell that they’re older—but they also look energetic. They’re vibrant. That’s how I see myself in 20 years, still very vibrant. I’m talking about my 50s, but even beyond my 50s, expect to have the same kind of energy, feeling good in my body, not dealing with aches and pains. I think a lot of that you can take care of by being careful with the kind of stress you put on your body, but also keeping yourself strong. That’s something that’s really important to me now, and I think it will continue to be important to me in the future.
20 years from now, what has the future version of yourself accomplished?
It’s healthy to think about both what you want to accomplish and the kind of person you want to become.
Different Stages of Life
- 14:31 Sean: I think I’m going to try an experiment with this show. We’ve got a bunch of questions that I think are really good, and we have these three sections. I’m thinking that, in between the sections, we should bring in some questions, instead of all at the end. This is Lisa. She said, “Even though I just got butterflies (or moths) realizing I am entering Q3. Though I feel like Q3 is MY time.” She’s talking about that idea you were talking about, Ben, thinking of life in quarters. She said, “My kids are about to leave the nest, and I am focusing on creating a business that feeds my own fire.”
- 15:19 There are people in different stages. One of the comments I saw was, “Why should I even think about 20 years from now?” That tends to be the younger viewpoint. That’s so far in the future. When it’s almost double your age, when you’re 20 or 25, that feels like it’s so far in the future. What’s the point? You have these things you need to focus on right now. As you get older, you really don’t want to think about it, because you start thinking about your mortality.
- 15:55 Ben: I’m looking forward to quarters three and four, if I get there. That’s the thing about mortality. If you think about it like it’s a long way off, that’s really subjective. You really don’t know. I think young people can do themselves a favor by not imagining that they have all of these years ahead of them. You could look at statistics or life expectancy and you could make guesses based on that, and you could allow yourself to feel a certain way based on that.
- 16:43 It changes a lot of what you choose to do with your time. You see it as it truly is, which is very precious.
- 16:52 Sean: Yeah, it’s not a very common viewpoint, to think of age and getting older as a privilege. Not everyone makes it to old age. That’s something you should strive towards. That’s good! You’re still here! You’re around! It would be an honor. I understand that you don’t want to be old, but what’s the alternative? The alternative is dying young. That’s not something you want, either.
- 17:32 Ben: I’m really looking forward to Q3 and Q4. It’s going to be a good time.
If you can accept your mortality, it gives you a lot of power in the present.
Think Long Term First
- 17:38 Sean: Kandace says, “Do you have to know where you are going in the present one to five years before you can think long term 20 years from now?” I think one to five years is too short. Next year is where we dump everything we wanted to do this year but didn’t do. It’s reactionary years. The next one to two years is reactionary, based on the present. Your 20 year self, when you’re imagining forward, shouldn’t be defined by your immediate next five years. It should be the other way around.
- 18:21 The other way around, where 20 years is far enough away that it doesn’t feel like it’s related to the present. We think of the next one to five years as it relates to the present. I like this 20 year figure, because it’s far enough away that it doesn’t quite relate to the present in our minds. We wipe the slate clean a little bit, and we allow ourselves a little bit more freedom. We believe that 20 years is long enough for us to become a completely different person, in a way that’s better and more like who we want to be.
- 19:04 It feels like that’s not enough time. You start to think in terms of the work you want to do, the work you want to be doing, while you’re here and alive. If you have a clear picture of your 20 year self, it starts to inform how you spend your next five years. I like thinking of the 20 year version and then leading up to that, instead of thinking of the next five years and just multiplying.
We give ourselves permission to dream of a more ideal version of ourselves 20 years from now than we would in the next one to five years.
- 19:33 Ben: Are we talking about the person we want to become or the person we think we’ll become?
- 19:45 Sean: We’re really talking about becoming the person we want to be and the person we say we will be.
- 20:01 Ben: That’s the distinction I’m trying to make. For some people, I wonder if the person they want to be is different from the person they believe they will become. Some of what comes into play there is that you have family members who are that age. Maybe you have a family history, and those family members aren’t quite where you would like to see yourself. Because that exists, that is the example and the picture that you have, it skews your belief a little bit toward seeing that for yourself vs. what you really want.
- 20:44 Sean: That really ties into the second part of this, which is planning. The first thing is imagining. I don’t think enough people think about the future version of themselves. When you don’t intentionally work on becoming the person you want to be, you end up being the person you are. Every day you live your life and you think, “Tomorrow, I’ll start becoming the person I want to be. Right now, I’m busy,” you are becoming the person you are.
- 21:24 The first step is figuring out who you actually want to be. You’re looking down at your feet, at the very next step, day to day. You have to look up and decide where you want to go. Maybe it’s hard. Maybe where you want to go isn’t where your current trajectory is leading you. Something is going to have to change. That’s where the plan comes in.
- 21:53 Ben: Our imaginations and our ability to envision the future are really powerful. For those of us who have a difficult time believing in the future version that we want for ourselves, it’s that much more important that we take the time, daily, to imagine what that future version of yourself that you want looks like. All of those other pictures you have that are fighting against that are right there, ready to come into your mind. You have to replace your negative images of your future and make the image that you want more pervasive.
- 22:37 Sean: I like that. Revisit the imagination, that vision of who you want to be. What are some ways that you can get to this place that you’ve imagined, to becoming this person you’ve imagined? Let’s look at that again. What have they accomplished? What are their goals and dreams? How do they act? How do they treat people? Think about this person. It’s both who you are, how you treat people, and what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished.
- 23:09 How are you going to actually get there? What steps do you need to take? What will you need to do? Instead of thinking of it as, “At some point, I’ll need to do this if I want to accomplish that,” think of it in terms of lifestyle change. What do you need to do every day?
- 23:43 It’s less about saying, “I’ve done these five things. At some point, I’ll need to do one of them, and eventually two of them.” Instead of thinking of it that way, think of it in terms of lifestyle change. What do you need to do every day over the next 20 years? Who is the person you need to become, and what do the daily acts look like for you to become this person you want to be?
- 24:09 Ben: Eric in the chat said, “To me, I feel like too much future thinking will inhibit you from enjoying the present.” I absolutely agree with that. If you’re so future focused that you don’t allow yourself to enjoy and experience the present, you’re missing out. That really defeats the point. I was texting Sean this morning, and this was originally where I was going with that—if you travelled 20 years into the future, one of the great questions is, “What is that person doing?”
- 25:01 When your 20 year older self wakes up in the morning, what’s the first thing they do? What is their routine? What kind of actions do they take? When it comes to business decisions, what kind of choices are they making? Think about those questions and bring it back to the present. Say, “What kind of micro-decisions and daily actions can I do today?” Maybe your morning routine needs to change, because the 20 year older version of myself doesn’t look at Facebook first thing in the morning. They get right into doing things that are good for them, that will prepare them for the day.
You’re shaping the future of yourself every day by what you do today.
Who do you need to become now so that your daily actions align with the person you want to be?
- 25:51 Sean: I reject this notion that thinking about and acting towards the future version of yourself and the vision of your future that you want is the antithesis of joy. Here’s what I mean by that. Think about the moments where you had the greatest joy. You think it’s when you’re goofing off, slacking off, watching Netflix, playing video games, eating junk food, and whatever, because there are chemicals in your body that are addicted to these shots of dopamine. You think you’re happiest when you get that hit of sugar.
- 26:34 You think you’re happiest when you have that junk or you do things that don’t fulfill you or lead to something purposeful or meaningful. Really, those things lead to sobbing on a couch with a blanket and a tub of ice cream. You don’t feel good afterwards.
- 27:00 It was when you were a kid and you were building this lego ship. Maybe you thought, “I want to have this ship that I built.” It’s the joy in the moment. It’s the climb, the pursuit. It’s the building, the hard work, and the sweat toward seeing this vision through to reality. It’s when you’re building the tree fort and you imagine the final result that you’ll get to enjoy. It’s not the fleeting things that you want to do instead of going out and sawing the logs and the boards to make the treehouse.
- 27:57 You’re like, “I want to go play with my friends. I want to go inside and get a snack.” Those are the fleeting things that take you away from the more meaningful work. That’s not lasting joy. I don’t think that there is this dichotomy between things that you enjoy, that make you happy, and focusing on building towards the future.
- 28:26 It’s not about having your head in the clouds and living in the future. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m saying, have a vision for where you’re going and work towards that every day! Remind yourself of that vision, of where you’re going, and then do something every day. Take one small step towards that vision and seeing it through to reality. That, in the moment, is the act that will bring you joy. It’s not just that when you get there, that will be great, and you should have your head in the clouds all the time.
- 29:00 Bridge the gap between that vision and the acts that you do today, and when you act in alignment with that purpose, you will find joy, fulfillment, and meaning.
Think about the moments when you had true, lasting joy, where you were proud, where you enjoyed the act of doing something.
It’s the act of building towards your future vision and seeing it through to reality that will bring you joy, meaning, and purpose.
If You Don’t Believe in Yourself
- 29:12 Ben: I think that’s where people need to be careful. The vision of your future self is meant to lead you to taking actions that are fulfilling and bring you joy and happiness. It’s not meant to discourage you to the point where you seek out comfort in things that don’t really bring you joy or happiness. If somebody thinks, “I want to be that, but that’s so different from what my life is right now,” it could make them feel depressed or down on themselves. What would you say the answer is to those two different approaches to thinking of your future self—thinking of your future self and it leading you to action, or it making you feel depressed about your present self, so that you shut down?
- 30:17 Sean: If it causes you to feel depressed and shut down, you need to recalibrate your vision. This is a personality thing. Some people thrive on having insanely big goals, because it motivates them. Other people don’t believe in themselves enough for that to be motivating. If that’s the place you’re in, you have to make your goal something that you personally can believe in. I don’t know how to make it that for you. That has to be your north star. Bring it within the sights of what you believe yourself to be capable of.
- 31:01 It should be just outside your reach. It shouldn’t be the beer you can grab from your lazyboy. It needs to be outside of your reach, but it also needs to be something you believe yourself to be capable of. I hope that helps.
- 31:18 Ben: That’s good. Feeling energized to take action or feeling a lack of motivation to take action is a good litmus test for where your vision is, if it’s set too far or too close. If it’s not compelling enough, it may not lead you to action.
- 31:47 Sean: People in the chat are saying something about Louis C. K. with eating ice cream. I was talking about having a tub of ice cream, but apparently there’s a bit with eating ice cream in a bath tub. I’m not familiar with that.
What if Your Vision Changes?
- 32:21 Sean: Aneeqah asks, “How do you create a future vision for yourself when you know that vision can and will change dramatically as you learn and grow?” Cory and I were talking about this one a little bit.
- 32:37 Cory: The fact is that it can change. It might, and it probably will, but that shouldn’t affect what you, the current version of yourself today, should plan for. What do you imagine? What do you want out of the 20 year from now version of yourself? The fact that things can change should not stifle your creativity and your desire for who you want to be.
- 33:09 Ben: 20 years from now is always going to be 20 years from now. If I’m reading what we’re prescribing correctly, it’s not like, “Okay, I’m going to take stock 20 years from now to see if I made it.” This exercise is meant to add to your present self. It’s meant to add encouragement, challenge, fulfillment, and joy to your present self. It’s not meant to keep your focus on the future, that you’re not going to be happy until you reach that version of yourself.
- 33:50 It’s meant to be a target that keeps you moving forward. It’s like a carrot dangling in front of you, in a sense. You keep on moving. You’re never going to reach it, but it’s the thing that’s motivating you and making you take action.
- 34:10 Sean: Like you said, Ben, unless you actually have a time machine, you never actually get to 20 years in the future.
Your vision of your future self injects purpose and meaning into the actions that you take today.
Don’t Break It Down
- 34:24 Sean: “How do you determine what you want that person to look like in 20 years while living in the present without it overwhelming you and freezing you? In other words what are practical ways to break it down into smaller chunks year after year and not want to be that person NOW?” Cory had thoughts on this. She’s saying, how do you break it down into chunks and not want to be that person now? When Cory and I were talking about this, and he was saying that you don’t break it into chunks.
- 34:56 Cory: You don’t break it into chunks. We were talking about imagining a version of yourself and how to become that. Like we’ve been saying, that helps you enjoy the present and take actions that are getting you there.
- 35:20 Ben: When you envision your future self and you decide that there are certain actions you need to take to arrive at that point at some point in the future, those actions that you take in the present add joy and fulfillment to your life in the present.
- 35:37 Cory: In turn, that does affect the 20 year version of yourself. When you take steps that make you enjoy life and accomplish the things you want to accomplish, that is changing the 20 year version of yourself, which is great.
- 35:52 Sean: Tell me more about not breaking it down into chunks.
- 35:55 Cory: That just is what it is. You’re doing the steps that are helping you become the 20 year version of yourself. It’s not like half or a quarter of that.
- 36:05 Sean: If I want to be a nice person and treat people well in 20 years, you’re not going for, “In 10 years, I want to treat people pretty well.”
- 36:14 Cory: It’s not really a thing you break down. I’m not sure how to put that more simply.
- 36:28 Ben: This is also where it could get a little bit dangerous if you have a fixed goal, like a weight goal, for example. Maybe you say, “In 20 years, I would like to be 30 pounds lighter.” Breaking it down isn’t necessarily helpful. Losing 15 pounds in 10 years? You could probably lose 15 pounds within the next 10 weeks if you really put your mind to it.
- 36:55 Sean: Aaron and I talked about leading indicators vs. lagging indicators on a recent Fired Up Mondays. That’s a weekly podcast that he and I do, and it’s a member-exclusive show. We do an episode every Monday. A lagging indicator would be what your weight number is. A leading indicator would be, “Did I run today? Did I eat the right number of calories? Did I stay at my goal of calories for today?” Those are leading indicators.
- 37:33 They come as a result. They come anyway. If you focus on the lagging, it can lead to disappointment even if you’re on the right track. It may not happen exactly in the timing that you want.
- 37:47 Ben: I like that distinction, because it helps you not put false expectations on the results.
- 37:58 Cory: We’re talking about the person you want to be, not just a thing you want to do. If one of mine is that a huge goal I have for myself is to make 10 or 20 films in 20 years, or something like that, I could break that down into chunks and say, “Okay, by 2020, I want to have this much done.” It’s okay to break down those kind of goals. We’re talking about becoming a version of yourself, so you don’t really break that down.
Think of your vision of your future self as a north star that guides how you live today.
If you focus on leading indicators, the lagging ones tend to come.
- 38:34 Sean: Sam says, “We all want to be more successful down the line but as Sean McCabe says, ‘money amplifies who you are now.’ So we should focus on being the best we can be now. Kind, disciplined, generous. What small bite sized traits or goals can we work on now to improve in the long term?” You have to take this plan to get to the vision you want and put in the action. You actually have to do something. I would say, focus on the lifestyle changes that you need to make and what you’re doing every single day.
- 39:14 If you want to become a different person, you have to change what you’re doing every single day. It’s not just a couple acts here and a couple of acts there. Who are you right now? What are you doing right now to become the person you want to be? What’s required on an everyday basis? Instead of thinking, “I live in San Antonio. I want to go to San Fransisco. I guess I’ll drive to Michigan, and then at some point, I’ll turn left, and I’ll drive to San Fransisco.” It’s not one choice.
- 39:48 It’s all along the way, every single day. Are you heading in the direction you want to go? Is everything you’re doing today taking you where you want to go and helping you become the person you want to be? Before we started recording, Cory brought up accountability.
- 40:04 Cory: I think accountability is huge. I’ve seen some studies on sharing your goals with people and how that can take away the motivation of accomplishing those goals, because you get a small satisfaction of impressing someone with a goal. You may not want to take the steps necessary to achieve that goal anymore. It’s different with an accountability partner. If you have an accountability partner, you say, “Hey, this is what I want to accomplish,” and they’re going to hold you to that.
- 40:37 They’re going to say, “How is this going? It’s been a month/week,” and they’re going to hold you to that. I was thinking about this in the show earlier, but in 20 years, I’m going to be 43. That’s so weird. When Sean talked about how old you’ll be, I said, “Just add 20!” But, oh, 43! That’s crazy.
- 40:54 Sean: That makes it seem so similar. I feel older than you because I’m your older brother. You’re the third oldest. I’m the first, so I’m used to being older than you, but when I think of 43 and 47, I think, “That’s basically the same!”
- 41:10 Cory: We’re buddies! If your accountability partner sees your goal, they have more perspective. It’s easier for people to have perspective on somebody else’s life rather than your own.
- 41:30 Cory: If you get an accountability partner, they can help you see that. They can help you take the steps to achieve becoming the person you want to be. They can help you become that person.
- 41:42 Ben: When you were talking about thinking about the daily activities, I thought about dissecting. Sometimes, we have a goal, and we have a general idea of what it’s going to take to get there. You have to do the work to determine what it really takes to become that person. What are the daily activities? Like I was talking about earlier, is there some morning routine that your 20 year older self does in the morning that you’re not doing right now in order to be that person?
- 42:21 What is that? What do they do? What time do they wake up in the morning? What’s the first thing they do when they wake up? How long do they work out? What kind of exercise do they do? Do they take vitamins? You have to dissect all of those things, and those things can become points for accountability, rather than, “Oh, did you work toward your goal today?”
- 42:47 Sean: Eric just dropped an excellent quote in the chat. He said, “What Sean said just reminded me of a nice metaphor. Airplanes and sailboats are never heading 100% straight to their target. They’re constantly correcting course.” I like that. I have to think more on that.
Sometimes you need an outside perspective, so get an accountability partner.
Make your actions toward your goals more specific and that’s a lot more powerful.
Seek Out People Who Are Similar to the Future Version of Yourself
- 43:08 Sean: This was an interesting one. Ben texted this to me before the show. He said, “Seek out people who are similar to the 20 year future version of yourself.” I thought that was really good.
- 43:31 I thought up some questions here. First, you need to figure out who this person is. It will be hard if you don’t know who the future version of yourself is. If you do know that, it will be easier. You can either ask yourself this by observing them. You can’t always tell, but sometimes you can’t get a personal meeting with people, so you might just have to observe. Are they happy? Do they seem to be happy?
- 43:58 Even if they seem to be happy, maybe they’re not. If you can, ask them, “Hey, are you happy?” Ask them what their regrets are. What would they do differently? All we’re doing is projecting. Who do I want to be? This is who I want to be. This is who I’ll be like. This is how I’ll treat people. These are the things I’ll say. This is what I’ll have done. This is where I’ll live. These are my accomplishments. Who are people that personify this description?
- 44:33 What is their life actually like? Do they enjoy that life? Would they have done things differently? It’s very worth seeking out people that resemble the 20 year version of yourself and talking to them.
- 44:47 Ben: It’s really interesting, because there are so many possibilities for what you could learn. You could learn that in order to achieve the version of success you want for yourself, this person had to sell their soul. Maybe they took a route you don’t want to take, and that tells you that the route you’d rather take might take longer, and that’s okay. You’re okay with that, because then you know you’re not going to compromise on your values. Maybe, you’ll talk to them, and they’ll be like, “I decided three years ago that I was going to become this person.”
- 45:26 Suddenly, you have this realization that the version of yourself that you see in 20 years is possible in a shorter amount of time. Like I said, there are so many possibilities there. That makes it exciting to seek out those kinds of conversations.
Once you have a clear vision of who you want to be in 20 years, try to find people who are similar to that right now and go talk to them.
What if I Can’t Find Anyone Like My Future Self?
- 45:42 Sean: Darien just asked, “What if there isn’t anyone doing what I want to do or what I want to be in 20 years? Some people haven’t been doing SEO for 20 years.” That’s very true. You have to do your best. Some things haven’t been around that long, and you simply can’t find someone who has been doing it for 20 years. Maybe someone has been doing it for 10 years. At least ask them. Maybe someone else has been working in internet business, marketing, or development for 20 years, and you can ask them.
- 46:11 Do the best you can. At the conference I went to recently, as far as I could tell and as far as everyone I met, I was maybe the second youngest person. The median age was well above me, but I wanted to learn. These people are, in many cases, where I would like to be. Hopefully sooner! They have that experience, and I want to talk to them. I estimate that I got about $5,000 to $10,000 worth of free consulting at this last conference that I went to.
- 46:48 I only spent some hundreds to get there, so it was very, very worthwhile. I got to talk to smart people who have done what I want to do. They had incredible insight for me.
Be That Person Now
- 47:05 Sean: If you want to know who you’ll be in 20 years, it’s pretty easy to find out. I can tell you exactly who you’ll be. As of right now, without changing things, here’s who you’ll be in 20 years—repeat the last six months of your life 40 times. That’s rather sobering. That’s who you’ll be in 20 years, right now, unless you change something.
Are you happy with where you’ll be if you repeat the last three, six, or 12 months of your life?
If not, something needs to change.
- 47:47 What will that thing be? That’s something you have to figure out. Look at the choices you’re making now, because those choices are the best indication of who you’ll be in 20 years. When you don’t intentionally think about becoming the person you want to be, you just end up becoming the person that you are.
- 48:07 Ben: This really makes me want to bring in the The 12 Week Year. The premise of that books is to stop thinking about a year in terms of 12 months, because when you think about a year as 12 weeks, it changes the kind of action that you take. Also, when I think about the last six months, it seems like a long time, but it also seems like a short time.
- 48:39 It’s also difficult to measure results in six months if you think about progress in terms of years. That’s why, at some point in the future, I would really love to talk about scaling that down in our minds, thinking about progress in terms of shorter periods of time. Some people look back over the last six months, and they’re thinking to themselves, “I started things in the last six months, and I don’t know how those things are going to turn out, so what if the past six months are okay and I would be on target? …but I haven’t experienced the fruits of those labors yet…” I think that’s a symptom of our time table being too long.
- 49:30 Sean: Make a note, Cory—how to accomplish more in less time. I’ll come up with a better title than that, but that’s a good future topic. That could be a show.
- 49:44 Sean: We had a couple of questions from Scott that I really like. He said, “What’s the greatest road block between us and our ideal future selves?” I think it’s that you don’t even think of this future version of yourself. You just live your life. That’s not even a very obvious road block, but that’s just it. That’s the problem. It’s not obvious at all, and it’s very easy to just continue living your life, and you’re playing out your routines.
- 50:14 It’s like watching a YouTube video you’ve already seen. You know how it ends. You’re doing the same things. I do it, too! It’s really easy to predict the future that way. You just repeat the last six months of your life 40 times. Is that where you want to be?
- 50:43 Cory: When I think of a road block, I think of you already being on the road. You’re already on your way, and then there’s a stopping point. To slightly reword that, I would say that it’s to stop thinking about it. You’re on the path, you’re thinking, “My future version! I’m making steps!” The roadblock is to stop having that perspective, to forget. Cory Miller said earlier in the chat, “I think this is something we should do annually, every year. Think about the 20 year version of ourselves.” There might be shifts or changes, so it’s something to revisit.
- 51:17 Ben: I kind of think about it this way. If you want to use the word road block, the future version of yourself that you want, that you think intentionally about and act upon, is an exit ramp from the road that you’re on. When you’re not thinking about the future version of yourself, being intentional, and changing your actions, that exit ramp is closed. It’s blocked off, so you’re just going to keep going in the direction that you’re going.
- 51:49 Sean: Which may have been the right direction a year ago, when you said, “How should I reevaluate my habits and change what I do?” Maybe that was the right direction a year ago, but if you blindly keep following that, you’re probably not going to end up where you want to be. Like the airplanes and sailboats, you should be constantly correcting your course.
- 52:11 Ben: I don’t know if an exit ramp is the right metaphor.
The greatest road block between us and our ideal future selves is that we don’t think about where we want to be—we just live our lives.
Set Unrealistic Goals
- 52:29 Sean: “Should this future vision of ourself be a Lambo Goal self or more ‘realistic’ than that?” Lambo Goal is another show we do here on the seanwes network. Actually, Cory and I do it together. He’s on the show with me, and we talk about setting big goals and then taking the steps that are required to get there and what that journey looks like along the way. A Lambo Goal refers to a Lamborghini.
- 52:56 Instead of just saying, “I’m going to buy a car,” it’s a supercar. It’s a super-sized version of your goal, forcing you to think big and then taking big actions. Scott is saying here, should the future version of ourselves be a Lambo Goal self—should we really shoot for the stars here? Or should we have a more realistic version of ourselves? Cory had some thoughts on this.
- 53:27 Cory: I don’t know. A Lambo Goal is unrealistic compared to what the majority of people are dreaming out there, but I don’t know if you can dream up an unrealistic version of yourself. You can be the person you want to be. That’s realistic.
- 53:48 Ben: My imagination is pretty good. It’s silly to me, the picture in my head.
- 53:56 Cory: So what is a version of Ben that is unrealistic?
- 53:59 Ben: Okay, I don’t know why this came to mind. I think in pictures a lot, so this is kind of silly. I’m at the helm of a large cruise liner. It belongs to me and I’m wearing a captain’s hat, because I went and I took that test. All of the people that I love, that I consider friends, are on that boat with me, and we’re just having a big party. I’ve got a cigar and a glass of wine.
- 54:37 Cory: Who is Ben? That’s what he has. Who is Ben?
- 54:41 Sean: He’s a yacht owner, Cory.
- 54:44 Ben: I don’t consider myself to be that person. Maybe in a metaphorical sense. I’m not the kind of person who owns a huge cruise liner, necessarily, but I want the people I love to be part of my celebration of life.
- 55:07 Cory: I need some of his imagination in my life.
- 55:10 Sean: Here are my thoughts on this. Everyone tells you to set realistic goals. It’s simple. Look at the definitions of the words. Realistic. You set a realistic goal, you accomplish a realistic goal, and you get a realistic life. I see a lot of realistic lives around me, and that’s not what I want. Everyone else, feel free. Knock yourself out. Go all out on realistic goals. Have a mediocre life. That’s not what I want.
- 56:03 Everything I’ve accomplished has been the result of setting unrealistic goals. I get my back against the wall. By definition, I overcommit. Unlike some people, where overcommitting means that it falls through and you don’t do it, I just do it. I commit in a very large way, and somehow, I do it. It’s like when someone gives you more weight than you’ve ever done, but your toddler runs in and she’s playing with her toys and she trips and falls. You’re about to bench press something you’ve never bench pressed before, but she falls next to your left shoulder, so if you don’t push this weight up, she’s going to be crushed.
- 56:52 You just put yourself in a situation where you have to bench press more weight than you’ve ever bench pressed before, but not only that—it’s like 40 pounds more than you’ve ever bench pressed before. It’s unrealistic, yet, that is when people perform. People overachieve when they set an unrealistic goal for themselves. I said that I was going to write three books in a month. That’s unrealistic.
- 57:25 If I said I was going to write a book in a year, it would take me a year. If I said I was going to write a book in a month, it would take me a month. I said, “I’m going to write three books in a month,” so I had to act in a way that would set me up to be able to write three books in a month. I eventually decided to condense them all into one book, but I wrote the one book in two weeks. The only reason I wrote it in two weeks instead of the full month is because I set this unrealistic goal for myself.
- 57:56 Ask anyone! If you go on writer forums, you say, “First book. Hi everyone, I’m Sean. Do you guys think I should set a goal for myself to write three books in a month?” Do you think anyone would say that’s a good idea, that it’s a good goal to have? Would anyone say that’s realistic? It’s not.
- 58:23 Ben: Maybe if you plan on not getting any sleep.
- 58:25 Sean: Scott, I say, knock yourself out on realistic goals.
- 58:52 Ben: Earlier in the episode, we talked about what if the future version of yourself doesn’t inspire you to action, but instead creates this crippling effect. Sean, you said that maybe that is a personality thing. Maybe it’s either too ambitious or so ambitious that it doesn’t feel like something you can accomplish. Compared to what you’re saying now, it sounds like you’re saying that you need to make it unrealistic to inspire you to take significant action.
- 59:33 Sean: I do think it comes back to the personality thing. Some people are motivated by setting really, really big goals. It drives them. Other people don’t believe in themselves enough for that to be a motivation. You have to recalibrate what your goals are. I don’t think someone who’s in a place where they don’t believe in themself can achieve unrealistic things. Someone who doesn’t believe in themselves isn’t going to set bigger goals than Elon Musk and get us to Mars and beyond.
- 01:00:03 They’re just not going to do it. You have a different baseline. I still think that you should set big goals for yourself, and you should be driven. You’re only going to be driven if that target is within what you believe that you can accomplish. If you already have that baseline self belief, that person, the latter person, should push themselves with an unrealistic goal. That person is going to be motivated by it.
- 01:00:32 Ben: Then, it seems like, the trick is to figure out how to believe in yourself.
- 01:00:39 Sean: You have to know yourself. Do you believe in yourself? If yes, set unrealistic goals. If you don’t believe in yourself, you need to work on believing in yourself, and in the meantime, set goals that are outside of your reach but that you believe you can accomplish.
- 01:00:58 Ben: That’s good. We need to do an episode on how to believe in yourself.
- 01:01:03 Sean: We actually do have one. It’s episode 115: How to Overcome Self Doubt, Get Rid of Anxiety, and Stay Focused. That was a big one.
By definition, you need to set “unrealistic” goals if you don’t want a “realistic” life.
Work towards a realistic future version of yourself only if you want a realistic result.
Sean’s Future Self
- 01:06:02 Sean: I feel like a realistic version of myself, 20 years from now, is running an eight figure business. That’s pretty good. That would be me doing pretty well for myself, so I feel complacent in accepting that as a good goal. That’s way too realistic! It’s done! If I repeat the last six months 40 times, that’s already done. That is the realistic results, and I’m not happy with that. I would be 47 at that point, and that’s pretty good. That’s when I start thinking about mortality.
- 01:07:25 I only have so much time here. Is that really what I want to do? Is it fulfilling my potential? You should be fulfilling your potential, so I feel like my goal should be much more grandios. I don’t necessarily have a clear vision for my 20 years in the future self. I do have goals for seanwes—seanwes media, seanwes music, and so on—maybe even seanwes airlines. Who can do things like that? The people who set out to do it! I’m thinking too small. It’s hard to come up with an unrealistic vision for the future within reason. That’s where I’m stuck right now.
- 01:13:25 Cory: Who is Sean 20 years from now?
- 01:13:30 Sean: I would like to say that I help people, in every sense of the word. I help people build the life and business they want to have, making a living by doing work that fulfills them. Maybe I invest in people. Maybe I give people money. Maybe I sell people resources. Money is just a part of it—it’s not the goal. My vision is to help people do something they enjoy, to enjoy their work and feel like it has meaning.