How to Talk to Your Future Self

???????A few months ago I was feeling anxious about money and not sure if I should continue focusing on my writing career. I opened a random page of a notebook by my bed and wrote: “Tracy’s Patterns: As soon as you get somewhere with your writing you start panicking about money, and distract yourself with odd jobs and job searches.” I felt better as soon as I wrote this, and closed the notebook to return to my writing.  And forgot about it.

I am weeks, maybe days, from finishing the second draft of my novel. Just as I was on an incredible wave of momentum, I crashed into wall of anxiety. I’m going to go broke writing this stupid thing that no one will ever read. I’m almost 30, I should have a real job. It went on and on, but I won’t bore you with the details because if you are pursuing something creative, you’ve probably had all the same thoughts. I decided to end all this anxiety once and for all and start the never-ending job search again.

The next day I was cleaning up my apartment and I found a notebook that I rarely use. I opened to a random page and there it was in writing : “As soon as you get somewhere with your writing you start panicking about money, and distract yourself with odd jobs and job searches.” I nearly dropped the book on the floor. I had completely forgotten I wrote those words. It felt like I had paid a genius psychiatrist  to study me and write down her findings in my notebook. Actually the most comforting thought was: this is me from the future saying don’t worry it’s all going to be okay as long as you listen to your heart and not your fears.

As soon as I realized I was continuing a pattern to hold myself back, it was so easy to let go of the anxiety. Yes, I don’t have enough savings to last me forever, but that should be motivation to finish my book sooner, not get another job. Since finding that journal, I’ve been writing like crazy and any time I think of looking at my bank account, or looking at a job listing, I repeat my findings to myself, and keep writing.

What is your pattern? Leave it in the comment section below or write it down in a journal. The next time you start to doubt yourself, revisit your comment and see if your anxiety is based on truth or based on a belief that is holding you back. This was so helpful for me, and I hope it can help you as well.

10 comments

    1. The closest thing I did to a time capsulte was when I was sixteen I went on a hiking trip and we all climbed to the top of the mountain and wrote a letter to ourselves. The leaders mailed us the letter a year later. It was pretty powerful to read that letter. There is something about the clarity of your younger insights 🙂

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    1. It’s good to get the self-sabotaging out in the open and talk about it. Why do we do that, when we could be accomplishing so much?? Good thought, Tricia.

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  1. Hi Tracy-
    My pattern is to think something is a great idea, then a day later, the fiend in my head whispers things like “that’s a dumb idea…that’ll never work…etc.”

    Why do we always try to talk ourselves out of plans that our heart knows is best? If I’m feeling uncertain, my acid test is that fear will hold me back, and whisper unhelpful comments to thwart my goals.

    Speaking of a future self, Marie Forleo is a fave of mine, and she talks about a 10-year “self” too, and it’s great advice. Ten years from now, will you regret not doing the thing you’re dreaming of??? It’s a great motivator, as was your post!

    http://www.marieforleo.com/2014/02/go-for-dreams/#more-5631

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    1. I love Marie! I’ve just been getting into her youtube videos. She’s spot on and I love that idea of considering my 10-year self’s opinion of my choices. I hope you are able to break your pattern of self-doubt. Sometimes it helps me to write down my idea and then not think about it for a few weeks. Then when I consider it again, I can objectively decide if there’s merit behind it and it helps me to get pass the fear because I know that I liked the idea beyond the initial thought.

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      1. That’s a very good idea – if you can return to an idea and still like it, it probably has merit. When I hear my snarky voices, I can usually recognize what’s going on and forge ahead anyhow. It’s good to know others have these problems, too!

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  2. If you have not yet read, “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, read it. He covers all of this and more. Keep going on your book! I want to read it! 🙂

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  3. My wife and I are both artists — I write, she paints — and we are still looking for success. Our most common self-imposed obstacle is second-guessing our inspirations. It goes like this: come up with an idea, get excited about the idea, make something with the idea. Either before finishing or just after, step back for some reason (generally a real life interruption), and then — remember that none of the past ideas have brought the desired success. Presume, therefore, that this new idea will likely not, either. Search desperately for new more marketable/useful inspiration; try to force the muse to come up with something new, all while longing to finish/polish the just-abandoned inspiration. If something apparently success-bound does arise, work on that while thinking of the abandoned inspiration, and fail to carry through on the apparently-success-bound idea; thus proving to self that talent is lacking. Or focus. Or dedication. Or maybe it’s just that self cannot come up with a really great idea . . .

    Repeat.

    I love finding old notebooks too, though I confess that many of mine are rather more full of kvetching about my job than they are full of wisdom. I crack open the oyster and find — just a snot-like mollusk. Nice to hear that you had a better experience. Like the blog.

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