Fantastic Future

Fantastic Future

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Jan 03, 2023 • 4 min read
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Unquestionably, having a sense of purpose in life contributes to virtually all dimensions of well-being. Without purpose, we may grind in life, pursue unfulfilling activities, or drift unfulfilled like an empty boat. Happiness cannot be found in an existential vacuum—even if you were paid to do nothing, research says. In the words of the psychologist William Damon, there is hope for everyone:

Every person, however talented or gifted, has the capacity to find and make a sustained commitment to a purpose.

The purpose does not have to be grandiose. Quite the opposite: Instead of dreaming about ideals that may be unrealistic, we can focus on our positive past and use it to inspire the future.

Rupert is trying to combine his past juggling achievements and his passion for ice cream.
Rupert looks for inspiration in his positive past.

The journey in Appreciative Goal Setting continues with visualization. Using the positive past we remembered in the last lesson, we can prepare to repeat and magnify it—by imagining a fantastic future.

Imagining a fantastic future helps you reveal what gives you a sense of purpose.

Visualizing our goals is different from daydreaming. Imagining a fantastic future is a deliberate act that will help us playfully identify ways to apply our strengths within realistic boundaries.

Everyting you can imagine is real.

— Pablo Picasso


Imagining a fantastic future grounded in the positive past is more likely to create realistic dreams. Its positive effects can remain even months after completing this exercise. As a reminder, the benefits of Appreciative Goal Setting are that it:

  • Encourages belief in ourselves and our abilities
  • Shifts our mindset from self-doubt to growth
  • Inspires and motivates us to work harder
  • Improves our mental and physical health
  • Deepens interest in our area of expertise
  • Helps us succeed and enjoy the fruits of our actions
Rupert is imagining juggling with an ice cream.
Rupert gets glimpses of his fantastic future.

Action steps

What if everything turns out alright? The following technique is inspired by imagining your best possible self, initially published by Prof. Laura King. We will travel into your fantastic future—in a bubble. Are you ready for a ride?

  1. Find a quiet place and assume a posture that allows you to dream for about five minutes without being distracted or disturbed. You can be sitting or lying as long as you are not sleepy. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so.
  2. Imagine a bubble about your size slowly entering your space. As it curiously approaches you, you let your body be taken inside. As soon as you are entirely inside the bubble, you feel a gentle push from the bottom. You look down and notice that the bubble has taken you on a ride. Unlike any ride you have had before, the bubble takes you months, years, or decades into the future. As you look beneath you, you see that everything you had wished for has become your reality. Your hard work has paid off, and your hopes and dreams have come true. Drop all doubts and challenges you used to have and observe.
  3. What do you see? What does your family life look like? What about your career? How is your physical and mental health? What about your hobbies? Your relationships? Choose one or more areas and describe them very specifically as if they have already happened. The more specific you are, the more engaged you will be in this exercise and the more you will get out of it. Make your fantastic future come alive by engaging as many senses as possible: seeing, feeling, hearing, and smelling. Now, keep these images alive for a few more minutes. You have become so involved in the fantastic future that you completely forgot you were in a bubble. Your sudden movements make the bubble burst, and you fall gently back to the present moment. However, you are far from being disappointed. You are excited about everything you have seen on your ride.
Rupert is floating in a bubble and sees himself selling and juggling with an ice cream.
Rupert imagines his best possible self.
If you can dream it, you can do it.

— Walt Disney

Research demonstrates that for visualization to work, we must imagine the future and how we will get there. In the next stage of Appreciative Goal Setting, we will learn to generate concrete commitments. For the moment being, keep dreaming.

Now or never

For the next two weeks, practice the best possible self technique. Each day, write about a different area of your life, such as family, relationships, health, career, or hobbies. Create a daily reminder.