Have you ever written a letter to your future self to save in a time capsule? If so, you’re already well on your way to teaching this important life skill to your kids. Thinking about their future self helps kids be accountable to themselves while developing good habits that will stay with them into their adult lives.
In this blog, you’ll learn the benefits of reminding your kids to think about their future self, as well as how to model that for your kids.
Benefits of Thinking About Their Future Self
As parents, we take for granted all the little life lessons that have made us who we are today. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of assuming our kids know things that took years for us to understand. By teaching our kids to think about their future self, we’re taking an idea that’s abstract (thinking ahead) and making it concrete.
Kids love to use their imaginations, and they become attached to characters. By giving them an opportunity to create an idea of their future selves, we’re setting them loose in the playground of imagination with a purpose.
As they think about how to be kind to their future selves, your kids will create routines and develop habits that will shape them into the future self that they want to be. What a fun way to learn the important life skills of being determined, doing their best, and taking care of their responsibilities!
Another benefit of your child being kind to their future self is that they are freed up to do kind things for others that they couldn’t have done otherwise.
Here are a couple examples:
One of your child’s responsibilities is to wash the dishes. By being kind to their future self, kids can extend that same kindness to their friends and family. However, if your child chooses to procrastinate, there may not be clean dishes ready by dinnertime, and everyone in the family will have to wait because they chose not to do it earlier.
Your child knows they need to keep their room clean, but they don’t do it. A friend of theirs wants to visit, but you say no because their room isn’t clean. Your child’s friend may feel let down because they were looking forward to it - but actions have consequences.
Mom, Be Good to Your Future Self
A fun and meaningful way for you to reinforce this lesson is by being an example yourself. Instead of thinking, “Well, that’s a problem for future me,” take the initiative to do things that you don’t particularly enjoy so that you won’t have to deal with it later. This is the opposite of kicking the can down the road.
We’ve all had moments where our current self has regretted the decisions of our past self. Whether those regrets are simple fixes like paying $2 on overdue library books, or long-term issues like relational conflicts, it’s not wise to leave a mess for our future self to pick up.
As a parent, how can you make things easier for yourself in the future? Maybe it’s as simple as putting things away before clutter piles up - or maybe it’s a bit tougher to tackle, like cooking a healthy meal when you’re tired and want to order pizza. (We’re not anti-pizza, but you may want to avoid living off it!)
When you “don’t feel like it” and do it anyway, be vocal about it in an upbeat way. You can say, “I don’t want to do this, but my future self will be proud of me if I do.” Do something today that your future self will thank you for.
Showing Respect to Everyone’s Future Selves
We focus on life skills training because every child is a future adult - and we want to equip those adults to be kind, well-rounded, and responsible individuals. Our training is as much for your childrens’ future selves as they are for yours. By teaching your kids to become capable adults, you’re being kind to your future self because your kids will know how to take care of themselves.
Our life skills program aims to help every member of your family become more capable. The SkillTrek mission ties directly to this concept of future self. Learn more about how we can help you on your journey.
Ready for more?
We searched high and low to find some of the best discussions on this topic of thinking ahead with the concept of "future self":
SkillTrek Video: Future Self (by Team SkillTrek)
A 13 minute video to watch with your kids to facilitate discussion of "future self."
"Take Ownership of Your Future Self" (by Benjamin Hardy)
A well-written discussion of Dr. Daniel Gilbert's 2014 TED Talk.
"A Message From Your Future Self" (by Chris Patton)
Includes a substantial example of a "letter from the future".
"How Your Future Self Helps You Fight Present Sin" (by Trevin Wax)
Using "future self" as a framework to overcome short-sighted immoral choices. Best for teens and older due to subject matter.
Your Future Self will Thank You: Secrets to self-control from the Bible and brain science (by Drew Dyck)
A podcast and book dedicated to this topic, described as "a guide for sinners, quitters, and procrastinators."
Future Authoring (by Jordan Peterson, et al)
A writing exercise to align goals with actions, and helping people define what they want their future to look like and achieve it.
Worth noting if for no other reason than to acknolwedge prior art.