Thirty years ago, I was an underachieving, excuse-making chump of a man.
I would do the bare minimum to get by and then blame my inadequacies on someone—anyone else. It was either my boss who was asking too much, or my professors who were being unreasonable, or my friends who were acting selfishly.
My failures were always caused by someone else—or so I thought.
Then one day, as I was sitting in a sauna sweating by myself in the University of Missouri’s rec center, I did something I had never done before.
I did a life projection.
I thought to myself, “If I continue living my life the same exact manner I am living right now, how will my life turn out in five years?”
And the answer wasn’t pretty.
Think about it: who do you want to be?
Ways To Become The Best ‘You’ You Can Be
1. Trigger your own wake-up call
I highly recommend the above exercise to anyone who is feeling uninspired in a job, lackluster about their relationships, unchallenged, dissatisfied, unhealthy, disillusioned, or any of combination of these descriptors.
When I did it, what I saw made me very sad. I pictured myself as slightly overweight, heavy-drinking, and, well, an underachieving, excuse-making chump of a man.
Related: 4 Excuses You Need To Stop Making
Still sitting in the sauna, I decided to imagine instead how I wanted my life to be in five years.
What I saw made me smile. I imagined myself as a successful business professional, happily married, and healthy. I saw a man of integrity and character who was proud of how his life was turning out.
Try it out and see for yourself.
2. Create your vision of self-image
I liked this vision so much that I began calling it my “vision of self-image.” I made a point to take 30 seconds per day to think about my vision.
Eventually, I began adding on another 30 seconds to think about “daily integrity.” In the “daily integrity” portion of my mental video, I would mentally rehearse what I needed to do in the upcoming 24 hours to make sure I was moving myself in the direction of my vision.
I would literally see myself making good decisions and doing what I needed to do throughout the upcoming day: anything from waking up at the right time, to completing my studies, to controlling my drinking and prioritizing exercise.
3. Do it every day
Every day, I would spend a total of 60 seconds imagining how I wanted my life to be, and what I could do in the next 24 hours to help make my vision become a reality.
Slowly but surely, I started doing better and better. I liked the changes I was making in my life…so much so that 20 years later, I still take the time to think about my vision and daily integrity.
All in all, it takes 60 seconds per day to complete, which honestly feels like a lot of work some days.
However, without knowing where you want your life to go, and without mentally rehearsing each day what it takes to get there, you are likely to end up as a person you don’t want to be. After all, how can you succeed when you don’t even know what your goal is?
For whatever reason, I am built in a way that if I don’t put energy into achieving greatness, I turn out to be a chump. If you’re anything like me, you might want to consider putting 60 seconds per day into achieving your own level of greatness, if you want to become the person you want to be. Remember, the days you don’t feel like completing your vision and daily integrity mental rehearsal are the days you most need to do so. Trust me on this: it will be worth the time.
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Jason Selk, EdD, trains companies and organizations—including the world’s finest athletes, coaches, and business leaders—on how to achieve optimal performance. He’s the bestselling author of 10-Minute Toughness and Executive Toughness, both published by McGraw-Hill. He’s a regular television and radio contributor to ABC, CBS, ESPN, and NBC, blogs for Forbes.com, and has appeared widely in print.
Photo by anthony samaniego