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The Future Self visualization exercise taps into the natural power of hope. Numerous studies have shown that when we think about who we will be in the future, the vast majority of people create an extremely positive version of themselves. It’s part of a healthy human psyche to assume that we are constantly improving ourselves in order to be more fully capable of gracefully dealing with challenges facing us when we become a wiser and a more experienced future being.

The Future Self is a detailed biographical image of who we wish to become in 10-15 years. The coach will help the student create a version of their Future Self, filling in details, such as a nickname, witty address, occupation, hobbies, etc. This warm-up exercise leads to a more meaningful vision. What values does the student want to have? And what message would the future person want the present person to pay attention to? The questions get students thinking more deeply about their present selves. This message usually goes off in two directions. The first one is that students often feel a sense of being proud of the effort that they’re putting into their present circumstances. The second sentiment usually expresses itself as a need to take more positive steps in the present.

The Future Self exercise is so effective because we’re specifically looking at who students are going to be, not necessarily what they’re going to do. This is a lesser-asked question of soon-to-be college students. They’re used to being asked about their chosen field of study; their desired occupation. These questions tend to remain at the forefront of students’ minds. Coaches urge students to use their imagination to envision what it will actually feel like to be this Future Self; to essentially be in the shoes of another. This lesson creates the foundation for Session 7 by panning out what reality would ideally look like in the future and looking at it from that distant point of view.

By looking at our lives 10 to 15 years from the future point of view, we can more clearly see what is most important. It gives us a great perspective on the small trials that distract us from seeing the larger picture. It’s an incredibly powerful perspective, and one that becomes more beneficial to more students.

How to Best Support Your Child

Become curious about your child’s envisioned Future Self. Perhaps do the exercise yourself. Sometimes the nickname of the Future Self is personal and students don’t share it. Sometimes they do. It’s best to tread sensitively on the topic, but know that your child has an image in their mind of their Future Self.

The easiest way to do it yourself is to relax, get comfortable with a pad of paper, and let your imagination drift to a future point in time and imagine that your Future Self is walking in the door to meet you. (Cheesy? Yes. Effective? Absolutely.) Proceed by following along with the questions from the workbook below.

From the Academic Life Coaching Workbook

Your Future Self is your vision of yourself 10 to 15 years in the future. Your coach will lead you through a visualization and exercises for you to meet your Future Self. Once you do so, you can use the prompts below to get an even clearer picture of your Future Self.

Future-Self’s nickname:

Fashion style:

Geographic location:

Description of home:


Typical day:

Favorite things to do:

Top values:

Message to you:

Other notes:


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