Right now

You’ve made resolutions. You committed to them. But real life is already seeping in. That “I will do it no matter what this time” attitude was all energy / anger / desperation but no planning, or time / energy / resources management. So what happened? The same thing that happens every time you try this. It didn’t work, and it made you “unhappy” to say the least.

Now what? Well, what would any sane person do when they are at the end of their rope—again? Hiring a coach who properly creates a plan based on the time / energy / resources concept is certainly a solid way to handle this. However, if you want to do something a bit radical and self-driven why not just do this:

Send a note to yourself from the future so that it never happens.

Goodnight everyone! Thanks for coming! (runs off stage). No, seriously. Here is a step-by-step way to do this, why and how it works.

This insane method of getting yourself to do something combines hindsight, planning, commitment, visualization, a reward system and the placebo effect. That is obviously a powerful combination, in fact it should be unstoppable if you actually do it.

What makes it work

For this to work you need to make sure each component is in place.

Decide what you want to happen – Is it weight loss, health, learning something, body sculpting, even a new job. You have to pick something fairly specific, and this is probably common in most methods

Visualize the final product – This is you in the future. Imagine what/who you are, how you feel. Visualize that you. Many times you have probably said in your mind or out loud, “If only this would happen/I’d accomplish this then I’d be/look like this, and I’d be smiling.” So imagine yourself with this thing, this accomplishment, this happiness. Just look at you, you smug future self! Of course you’re happy, you have that thing I don’t have! Go ahead, get mad. After all he’s you and has what you don’t have.

Now use hindsight – If this is so great and you really want it why hasn’t it happened? You’re not a dumb person. You probably have some cool accomplishments in your life, and some of them are probably amazing. They are at least amazing to other people. Don’t dismiss them. You’ve done those other things. “That was different/that was easy.” OK, this one is going to be different/easy too. It’s OK.

Jot down what this hasn’t worked in the past. Every painful, annoying reason It might be something super simple, and singular. You may be embarringly aware of it. OK. Write that down.

Write the note. Now that you know what you want, what it will look like, and why it hasn’t worked, you can instruct yourself how to do it.

Choose a span of time – How much time, realistically, would it take to accomplish this? A week? A month? Three months? Six months?

Note that the more time you choose the less likely this note from the future will do what you thought it would. See Steering from afar for why that is. Meaning, if you choose that the note is being sent to you from five years in the future, that’s going to take some major belief and commitment, and things may change—a lot. Don’t let me dissuade you from choosing a longer span though. Some things may require a long span, as in “I’m married and have three great kids” and right now you’re only 20 and not seeing anyone. Also great body changes such as a large amount of weight loss or muscle bulk requires that it happens slowly.

A sweet spot for many things is a few months, but even a week would work for the right fit. It is up to you.

The Placebo effect – Everyone has heard of a placeo. We usually think of a sugar pill that is given to someone and then we tell them it is powerful medicine. Not only does this kind of mind-over-matter work, it even works when we tell people it is a placebo. Yes, it even works when you say “This isn’t medicine; it does nothing, its just a fake pill.” Studies have essentially shown that it is mostly because it comes from someone who (we believe) cares about us—the doctor. So if a doctor—who is smart, and knows more than us, and has our best interest in mind and wants to heal us—gives us a pill, then it does something that we can’t do on ourselves. And, it must be powerful medicine, even if they tell us it isn’t.

According to recent studies, this effect is real—meaning it accomplishes real healing in our body of various kinds and levels. And this ability to heal is only triggered by this affect—like flipping a switch that says “No, I’m serious.”

Writing the note

Now that you have all that in order, write the note to yourself from the position of the future (the when that you choose) and being in that amazing place (the situation you chose) and having the knowledge of what actually got you there (the hindsight of why it didn’t in the past). Write it with care (the placebo effect) to you.

The crazy part

Oh, there’s something more crazy than all that? Yes, the part where you read the note for the first time and act like it’s from your future self. So after you write the note, package it up in any way you want. Be fancy, or be simple. You can write an email to yourself (although you can’t lie about the date then), or you can write a hand-written note and date and sign it from your future self. The latter works best because of a known property of notetaking, in that it increases memory retention dramatically. You know this if you have ever taken notes at a meeting, only to find that you magically remembered most of it “anyways.” Stick it under your pillow, lay it on your driver’s seat, put it under the remote, put it in the refrigerator on top of the shitty food you were going to make.

The start

So, open the note when no one is around, read it and be astonished that this caring, prescient message from future you just received is all about you. You are so loved by your future self that they sent this to you to cause this to happen. The two of you cheated the entire universe because that’s all it’s been doing to you, so take that, universe.

I’d strongly suggest you don’t tell anyone about this, at least until it’s all done. Even if this fails it will still make a marked difference in your efforts and you’ll probably do it again.

It may take too much time to explain, or you may get cold feet and think it is silly (it’s more than silly; it’s absolutely absurd but that’s exactly why it works).

So perhaps the explanation can come when someone asks later, “Hey how did you do that!?”

Then you can tell them about the note you sent yourself from the future.

Follow up

I normally ask for feedback on my books, my articles and my podcasts. This time I’m really serious about this; if you do this, I want to know about it. You can choose to share with me when you start (as an added layer of accountability) or you can choose to only tell me when you reach the date / complete the goal. There is no obligation for doing this. There’s no downside and the upside is a lot of kudos from me (and even featuring you in a future article / podcast if you agree).

PS – Hi Poland!