Be Your Future Self Now (2022) is a guide to defining your future self – and making sure you get there. It walks readers through the seven threats to your future self, the seven truths about your future self, and the seven steps you can take to be your future self today.
Introduction: Become your future self today.
Table of Contents
Until the 1990s, it was widely accepted in psychology that a person’s actions and behaviors were determined by their past. This deterministic view held that human beings were essentially a series of dominoes – propelled forward by the momentum of what had come before.
Then, at the end of the twentieth century, a band of revolutionary researchers burst onto the scene. These self-dubbed “positive psychologists” provided an almost polar opposite explanation for human behavior: that human beings weren’t pushed by their past; they were pulled by their future.
Reflect on your day so far. How many actions weren’t driven by an underlying desire for or aversion to a future outcome? Some motivations may be subtler than others, but motivation is always there.
Understanding this can change the trajectory of your life, lead you to become a very different future self, and inch you closer to becoming your future self today.
In Be Your Future Self Now, Dr. Benjamin Hardy outlines the seven threats to your future self, the seven truths about your future self, and the seven steps to making this transformation a reality. While we won’t be able to cover every threat, truth, and step in this summary, we’ll equip you with two powerful takeaways from each category to get you well on your way.
So wave goodbye to failed New Year’s resolutions. Instead, say hello to your future self and get ready to become more than a collection of half-hearted, New Year’s goals could ever offer.
Section One: All in the Narrative
When Hardy was 16, his family piled into the car for a five-hour drive to visit a friend. But halfway in, his mom grew tired. Hardy was a freshly minted driver at the time, so volunteered to take the wheel and let his mom rest. She fell asleep within minutes.
As night fell, Hardy entered a section of road under construction. He drove attentively, but could never have known that just ahead, a long stretch of construction barrier had fallen out of place. When the car hit the unguarded patch of rubble, it spun, flipped, and landed on the opposite side of the road. The next thing Hardy remembered seeing was his mom strewn across the road, 50 feet from the car.
His mom was flown to an intensive unit and lay in a coma for weeks. Her sons weren’t sure she’d survive. Mercifully, she did regain consciousness, but was kept in a body cast for over a year and remained in constant agony for the following two decades.
While Hardy’s family struggled to talk about the accident for several years, his mom chose to frame the incident as a pivotal moment that clarified her purpose in life: raising her three boys. She became softer, more compassionate, and went out of her way to express gratitude for the little things. Rather than growing into a bitter future self, she grew into a better future self.
Your past experiences can pose a major threat to your future self if viewed negatively. In fact, research shows that specific events don’t matter nearly as much as the meaning assigned to them.
Your hardest moments can be your most transformative teachers – if you let them. When you own your experiences, rather than them owning you, you can craft a narrative that powerfully serves your future self.
So when tragedy next strikes, remember Dr. Hardy’s mom. Choose a story that makes you better, not bitter.
Section Two: Entering the Arena
A second formidable threat to your future self is fear of failure.
You’re probably familiar with the famous passage from Theodore Roosevelt that stated, “It is not the critic who counts.” “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,” he went on, “who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again.”
The possibility of failure kills a disproportionate number of dreams and drastically undermines your future self’s potential. But what often goes unacknowledged is that playing it safe is failing by default.
It’s easier to pursue lesser goals – in the short term. But doing so will be hard to swallow when you’re on your deathbed, reflecting on what otherwise could have been.
In psychological terms, courage is defined as committing to a noble goal involving risk. Becoming your future self is exactly that. It takes immense courage to envisage the future self of your dreams and take steps toward it. Such an endeavor precludes occasional encounters with failure, but opting out guarantees you’ll never even glimpse your full capacity.
Take a moment to consider three goals you’d set for yourself if you knew you couldn’t fail. What massive action would you need to take within the next 12 months to make each a reality? Given that not taking action automatically negates the possibility of success, what do you have to lose?
Yes, entering the arena comes with risks. But it’s only in the arena that you can hope to reap the greatest rewards.
Section Three: Your Future Self is Someone Else
Do you remember the person you were ten years ago? Can you recall your interests, values, and circumstances? How significantly have you changed since?
Dr. Daniel Gilbert is a Harvard psychologist fond of posing these questions to people. He then follows by asking whether an individual imagines they’ll change much within the next decade. While almost everyone recognizes a major identity shift in the past ten years, few expect a similar shift in the coming ten years. What Gilbert’s favorite line of inquiry seeks to highlight is known as the end-of-history illusion.
The end-of-history illusion is the misperception that who you are today is more or less the finished product – regardless of how much transformation you’ve previously experienced up to now.
But here’s the truth: today’s you is just the beginning. Your future self will be a different person yet again.
This truth isn’t only a more accurate understanding of human development, but it’s also key to manifesting your full potential. When you accept the inevitability of change, you take your current self more lightly. You don’t need to have all the answers or beat yourself up over mistakes. You aren’t a fixed entity. You will grow. And what’s more, you can accelerate this growth.
To get yourself on the fast track to your future self, first acknowledge that who you’ll be in ten years is different from who you are today. Then, set aside time to consider who you want your future self to be. Crystalize their interests, values, and circumstances. Define their goals and achievements.
Allow yourself to be surprised. Give your imagination free rein. The more vivid a picture you paint, the quicker and smoother your journey toward your future self will be.
Section Four: The Hand of God
The second truth we’ll explore is the influence of your view of God on your future self.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean to suggest there is any one “right” belief system. Instead, it seeks to highlight that your perception of self, your potential, and the world around you will be significantly shaped by whatever stance you choose. As a result, Hardy encourages people to choose a perspective that empowers their future self rather than limits it.
Say, for instance, you believe there is a God, and all life is God’s creation. From this position, God is like a potter, and humans pottery. If we continue with this analogy, we see that the pot and potter are intrinsically distinct. With this view, the pot has little hope of ever truly understanding, let alone becoming, the potter.
Compare this with the idea that God is the parent and every individual is a literal child of God. From this perspective, humans and God are essentially one – more akin to an acorn and an oak. This view offers people the capacity to comprehend God’s plan and perhaps one day, even grow to become like God.
Operating from a place similar to this second position radically redefines what you deem possible. If your future self holds the potential to evolve into God, your current self can shift from a state of lack and limitation to one of abundance and expanse. Instead of crafting a future self driven by fear and insecurity, you can safely create guided by gratitude and trust.
Your choice of belief system is yours alone, but it’s one that profoundly ripples out to your future self and maybe, just maybe, even beyond.
Section Five: Systemizing Success
A few years ago, Dr. Hardy started working with a financial advisor. After discussing his financial goals, Hardy was advised to set up an automatic weekly payment to his investment account. He did. When he returned to speak to his advisor three months later, he was stunned to learn how much he’d already profited. Unsurprisingly, Hardy has continued his weekly auto-investing ever since.
By now, you should have a sense of the future self you intend to become. The next step is to take action. And as Hardy’s example shows, systemizing and scheduling are tools that unlock fast, almost effortless growth.
Systemizing your future self is an ongoing process – your systems will evolve as you do. For instance, Hardy has increased the size of his weekly investment several times since he started, mirroring the growth of his future self’s financial goals.
But the point of systemization remains making the actions and behaviors of your future self as frictionless as possible. In Hardy’s case, he did this by setting up an automatic payment from his bank account to his investment account every Monday. In this system, there was zero friction. In fact, after the first week, he didn’t have to do a thing. As a result, this future self behavior quickly became routine.
The second practice here is rigorous scheduling. Most people’s calendars are overwhelmed by the urgent, leaving little, if any, time to tackle the important. But if you’re serious about your growth, you’ll need to treat future self actions as nonnegotiable appointments around which lesser tasks have to make do.
Hardy does this by blocking off Mondays and Tuesdays to write books and film YouTube videos – his primary sources of income. He sets aside Thursday and Friday afternoons to tackle any urgencies that arise during the week, but his future self’s financial goals literally come first.
Follow Dr. Hardy’s lead. Wield the power of your systems and schedules. Inch closer to your future self today.
Section Six: Done is Better than Perfect
Most people would describe Leonardo da Vinci as a genius, his works testament to a seemingly Midas touch. It may come as a surprise, then, that he once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
Now that you have a feel for your future self and efficient systems and schedules directing you toward it, you’ll start to see momentum build. Here the next practice, consistent completion, needs to be adopted.
Whatever your goals for your future self are, a time will come when you’ll need to bite the bullet and “finish” them – despite how imperfect and incomplete they may seem. The truth is that anything you produce now will be dwarfed by what your future self produces later. But it’s only by completing imperfectly today that your future self has any hope of completing at a higher standard tomorrow.
Hardy offers a few examples from his own life. For instance, the writing in his latest book is a vast improvement on the writing in his first book. His approach to parenting his youngest child is more nuanced than his approach to raising his eldest children. And the money he’s now aiming to invest is a multiple of the money he initially began squirreling away. Waiting for perfection means forever waiting for your future self.
This applies to quitting too. If an action or behavior ceases to move you toward your future self, quit it. The line about quitters never winning and winners never quitting is neither accurate nor helpful. Stay committed to the vision of your future self, not to the ideas of your former self.
Leonardo da Vinci might not have been perfect, yet, his works remain impressive to this day. So allow yourself to complete imperfectly. Allow yourself the possibility of becoming this generation’s da Vinci.
The key message here is that:
Connecting to your future self can change the course of your life. And, with intention, this transformation can start today.
Dodge common pitfalls by being aware of the threats to your future self – such as past narratives and fear of failure. Remain inspired by arming yourself with the truths about your future self – including the distinction between the different versions of you and the role of belief in God. And enjoy a clear path to the expansive, abundant you by heeding the steps to becoming your future self – for example, systemizing success and prioritizing completion over perfection.
As author, spiritual leader, and political activist Marianne Williamson said, “Your playing small does not serve the world.” So commit to manifesting your fullest potential. Be your future self now.
This book is a guide for anyone who wants to create a better and more fulfilling life by imagining and becoming their future self. The author, Benjamin Hardy, is an organizational psychologist and a best-selling author who has helped millions of people achieve their goals and dreams. He presents a scientific and practical approach to intentional transformation, which is the process of changing yourself from the inside out by aligning your thoughts, emotions, and actions with your desired future.
The main premise of the book is that your future self is not a fixed or predetermined entity, but a dynamic and evolving one that you can shape and influence by your choices and behaviors. The author argues that most people are stuck in their past selves, which are based on their limiting beliefs, habits, and identities. He challenges the reader to break free from their past selves and embrace their future selves, which are based on their aspirations, values, and potential. He provides various techniques and tools to help the reader imagine, connect with, and become their future selves.
The book is divided into three parts, each focusing on a different aspect of intentional transformation. The first part explains the seven threats to your future self, which are the common obstacles and pitfalls that prevent you from achieving your goals and dreams. Some of the threats are:
- Fear: The fear of failure, rejection, or change that paralyzes you from taking action
- Comfort: The comfort zone that keeps you from challenging yourself and growing
- Identity: The identity gap that exists between your current self and your future self
- Environment: The environment that influences your behavior and mindset
- Trauma: The trauma that holds you back from healing and moving forward
- Addiction: The addiction that distracts you from your purpose and vision
- Resistance: The resistance that arises when you face change and uncertainty
The second part explains the seven truths about your future self, which are the core principles and concepts that guide you in creating and living your desired future. Some of the truths are:
- Choice: The choice that empowers you to decide who you want to be and what you want to do
- Vision: The vision that inspires you to see beyond your current circumstances and limitations
- Commitment: The commitment that motivates you to act in alignment with your future self
- Learning: The learning that enables you to acquire new skills and knowledge
- Growth: The growth that results from overcoming challenges and difficulties
- Happiness: The happiness that comes from pursuing your passion and purpose
- Legacy: The legacy that reflects the impact and contribution you make to the world
The third part explains the seven steps to be your future self now, which are the practical steps and strategies that help you implement intentional transformation in your daily life. Some of the steps are:
- Define: Define your future self by clarifying your values, goals, and vision
- Connect: Connect with your future self by visualizing, journaling, and meditating
- Act: Act as your future self by adopting new habits, behaviors, and routines
- Invest: Invest in your future self by allocating your time, money, and energy
- Surround: Surround yourself with people who support and challenge your future self
- Measure: Measure your progress towards your future self by tracking and reviewing your data
- Celebrate: Celebrate your achievements and milestones as your future self
The book is written in a clear and engaging style, with many examples and stories from the author’s own experience and from the lives of his clients and students. The book also provides practical exercises and worksheets that the reader can use to apply the concepts and techniques. The book is suitable for anyone who wants to improve their life quality and results.
The book is not without its flaws, however. Some of the drawbacks are:
- The book is somewhat repetitive, as it often reiterates the same points and principles throughout the chapters.
- The book is based on the author’s personal beliefs and opinions, which may not resonate with everyone. Some of the concepts and claims may seem too subjective or anecdotal for some readers.
- The book may not address some of the deeper or more complex issues that may affect one’s intentional transformation, such as culture, diversity, or ethics.
Overall, I would rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. I think it is a valuable and insightful resource for anyone who wants to learn how to be their future self now. It offers many practical tips and tools that can help anyone create a clear vision, connect with their potential, and achieve their goals. However, I would also recommend that the reader supplement this book with other sources of information and guidance that may address some of the limitations or gaps that this book may have.