Sometimes our goals in life can be elusive. But research suggests that building optimism about the future can motivate people to work toward that desired future and thus make it more likely to become a reality.
This exercise asks you to imagine your life going as well as it possibly could, then write about this best possible future. By doing so, research suggests that you’ll not only increase your happiness in the present but pave the way for sustained happiness down the line.
15 minutes per day for two weeks
Take a moment to imagine your life in the future. What is the best possible life you can imagine? Consider all of the relevant areas of your life, such as your career, academic work, relationships, hobbies, and/or health. What would happen in these areas of your life in your best possible future?
For the next 15 minutes, write continuously about what you imagine this best possible future to be. Use the instructions below to help guide you through this process.
Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(2), 73-82.
People who completed the Best Possible Self exercise daily for two weeks showed increases in positive emotions right after the two-week study ended. Those who kept up with the exercise even after the study was over continued to show increases in positive mood one month later.
By thinking about your best possible future self, you can learn about yourself and what you want in life. This way of thinking can help you restructure your priorities in life in order to reach your goals. Additionally, it can help you increase your sense of control over your life by highlighting what you need to do to achieve your dreams.