How to Learn from Your Future Self



Today’s message is all about how to see the big picture of your life through a fictional exercise of talking with your future self.

This thought experiment has been employed by many great thinkers over the years, including Jorge Luis Borges and more recently, Tim Ferris.

If your younger self could speak with your future self, what would the conversation be like?

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What does your future self want you to know? Try the thought experiment. You may be surprised at the advice you receive. Borges wrote about his not-quite 70-year-old self meeting his not-quite 20-year-old self on a park bench. The results are wonderful, but it’s certainly not easy to have a conversation with your “other.”

“We were too different, yet too alike. We could not deceive one another, and that makes conversation hard” (Borges, The Other).

Will you tell yourself to not worry so much? To follow your heart? To stop hanging around the wrong people? To forgive yourself?

Speaking with your future self, no matter how old you are, can help you differentiate immediate rewards from those that pay off later. Humans, unlike other animals, have the ability to project themselves into the future. Consider the payoffs of delayed gratification. Are you able to resist now to receive later?

Even if half a century seems far off, stepping into your future self allows you to realize the future ramifications of your decisions today. In fact, by imagining our future selves, we can help shape our current thinking and behavior. Does your 70-year-old self speak another language? Do they have the same habits as their 20-year-old self?

“If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad” (C.S. Lewis, Answers to Questions on Christianity).

Here’s your challenge:

Sit down and just imagine what your future self would tell to you today. Step into your future self and speak boldly and passionately about your dreams and projections. Is your present self getting in the way of the contentment of your future self?

Imagining your future self is worth the effort. Start with just one message your future self has for you. This fictional, dreamlike exercise offers hope and direction. What insights will you find?


Hey, this is Todd Phillips, your online pastor and high performance coach. And I want to talk to you today about how to learn from your future self.

Like that’s even possible? But we’re going to talk about how it might be possible.

When I was, I don’t know, 27, 28, 29, in my late 20s, really early 30s, as I was starting to have children, I began to think back on this idea that I had heard from someone who had taught this in a sermon or I had read it in an article somewhere about what would you tell your 20-year-old self?

Or what would you tell your teenage self. And I remember thinking about all the things that I would have told myself if I was able to go back and tell my teenage self, “Hey, invest this way, build this relationship, do better in school, or whatever else it might be.”

And it was a really cool practice to go through what I would have told myself. In fact, now that I have children, I really apply that to my kids. What would I tell myself if I were younger, and then I just tell those things to my kids when we’re living out our lives.

Looking into Scripture and really understanding what it means to live a godly life. I look back on those things, and I share points of wisdom to these younger people in my life that God’s given me leadership over so I can serve them well.

But then I really heard a very strange thing. In fact, this came from Tim Ferris—you may have heard of this guy before. He actually wrote a fictional account of him having a conversation with a man in a ski lodge that turned out to be his future self. And so, he writes this fictional account of his future self giving advice to him, and as he writes this fictional account, he says this quote, “It was a fun story to write, but I actually got a lot of actionable, specific advice by going through this exercise of imagining my older self talking to me today. And as weird as that sounded, you know what, I’m going to start this process. I’m going to write this story of what my older self would tell me today.

And what I found out—I’m right in the middle of it so I haven’t finished writing all of these things, I think it’s probably going to be an ongoing exercise—but this is what I want to tell while it’s still fresh in my mind. When I am imagining my future self talking to me today, a lot of the things I’m tentative about, a lot of the fears I feel, a lot of the uncertainties and insecurities that sometimes pop up when I’m trying to make decisions. Even starting these videos and teaching online like I’m doing right now, when my future self is talking to me in this fictional account, he’s saying, “Listen, don’t be afraid. Don’t be tentative. Jump in, dive in, swim in these dreams that you have and trust that God is going to work through the details.”

And you know it’s interesting, the fear goes away. So I’m able to write down the things that I believe God wants me to do without the fear and the trepidation and the uncertainty getting in the way. And it’s a very, very healthy exercise. So again, I’m right in the middle of this and I don’t know where it’s going to end, but I would encourage you with this: if you’re watching this right now, maybe think about doing that. Maybe sit down and just imagine what would your future self tell to you today. And it gets you out of yourself. It gets you out of your own concerns and insecurities and allows you to speak boldly and passionately toward the dreams that God may be putting in your heart and that you’re getting in the way of.


[after video]

Hey, it’s Todd. Did you get something out the video you just watched? I really hope you did.

I mean, that’s my passionto give you something that can be applied rightly to your life, right now.

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