Today’s big idea is that gratitude can help you create the future you want. Meaning, it’s not just relegated for appreciating what has already happened, or something that’s occurring in this moment. You can also rehearse future gratitude as a way to get yourself motivated to do something that feels hard, scary, or even boring today.
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Now, before I lose you, think about this:
You know how non-profits who are sending out a request for money will include a little gift in the envelope, like a notepad, or return address stickers, or maybe a reusable tote bag? Well they’re doing that because they know that when a person receives something nice from someone else, whether it’s an actual thing or a gesture, that person naturally wants to reciprocate. It’s like a good-feeling hot potato.
Future Gratitude and thanking yourself NOW for something that you haven’t done yet puts that same concept to good use. If you’re currently thinking, Wait, wha? Allow me to explain.
Let’s say there’s something you really want to create in your life
Maybe you’re realizing that you’ve come to the end of the road with your current line of work, and you want to find something that gets you more jazzed up. It’s a very noble goal and perfectly reasonable desire. It is NOT too much to ask that you find work that suits you. So you know the basic things to do to get from point a to point b. Refresh your resume. Start talking to the people you know about your ideas, and ask who they might know that might be able to help. Maybe take a class. Or start doing it as a side hustle.
The steps themselves aren’t rocket science. But they’re for sure daunting. And although they’re important, they’re not necessarily urgent, so they can be hard to make the time for and devote the energy to.
WELL, future gratitude can help get you into motion. Because when you take a moment to think about how grateful you’ll be that you actually went and took all those little steps, you’ll be more motivated to actually go and do them.
Here’s how to achieve future gratitude:
First, think about what will be different when you’ve made your transition into more fulfilling work. How will your overall life satisfaction be? What will you have time and energy for that you don’t now? What will you have space for in your life that you don’t now? Really picture it, let the experience of it seep in to your cells. This rehearsal of a better future is the free gift part–it feels good to let yourself imagine how well things could work out (usually we imagine how it could all go wrong, which is NOT motivating!.
Next, ask, What can I do now that I will be so thankful I did when I’m in my new work reality? You want to feel the gratitude that you’ll have in the future, now, for something you haven’t even done yet. Future gratitude is a bit of a jedi mind trick, I admit. But man, does it help you flip the narrative on how hard something is going to be, to how good it is going to feel when you’re done.
Also, isn’t motivating yourself by being grateful for the great-feeling changes you’re about to make way more compelling than yet another sheet of return address labels??
Be sure to come back tomorrow when I’m interviewing author Polly Campbell for her take on gratitude for lazy people. I think you’re going to love her.