Why are you smiling so wide in the future? It’s 5-10 years from now, and your happy grin comes from achieving your dreams. You accomplished this by creating achievable goals and then marking them off one after the other.
Research shows that writing about, or visualizing, positive thoughts and dreams can bring about your Best Possible Future. This optimistic thinking can provide insights, which spark positive choices, goal achievement, well-being, and emotional adjustment.
“This isn’t just about imagining a model future. It’s also about building a best possible self today that can make that future come true,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. In one study, students wrote about their “best possible future” for 20 minutes for four consecutive days.
They responded to this prompt created by psychologist Laura King:
“Imagine yourself in the future, after everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of your life goals. Think of this as the realization of your life dreams, and of your own best potentials. In all of these cases, you are identifying the best possible way that things might turn out in your life, in order to help guide your decisions now.”
Study participants showed an immediate boost in well-being after completing this exercise, and they remained happier three weeks later. Also, students suffered from fewer illnesses for five months after this activity. Another study instructed participants to imagine their “best possible self” with a focus on work, relationships, and personal hopes. They were asked to imagine this for five minutes per day for three weeks. Study participants reported increases in optimism which built over the two weeks.
This exercise will clarify your goals so you can make decisions to create your best possible future. So, take a few minutes to start transforming your dreams into reality. When you need a refresher or are ready for new goals, review your responses and change them as needed.
.HappyHack: Best Possible Future
Time needed: 20 minutes
Supplies: paper and pen or word processing device
Instructions: Envision your future where you have worked hard to accomplish your goals and you are now celebrating your success. You have achieved all of your dreams and everything has worked out as well as possible. Think back to the specifics of how you have made your best possible future happen by setting achievable goals and accomplishing them. Now write about your future focusing on the specifics you will need for success. Questions you may want to consider:
• What is your dream job?
*Which certifications, training or education do you need for this job?
• Which financial goals have you accomplished?
• Which favorite activities do you enjoy?
* Which training, equipment or supplies do you need for these activities?
• Which people are the most important for your social life?
* What is your relationship status?
* Which relationships are the most important for you?
• What is your lifestyle like?
* Which healthy choices do you practice?
* Which fitness activities do you choose?
* Where do you live?
• Which other choices and goals will help you achieve your best future?