In my not too distant past, I was one of those women who put conditions on my happiness. I told myself I’d be happy someday when I was thinner, better dressed, had a great job, a better social life, better clothes, better hair, etc. And so it was that the happy version of myself stayed in the future, and the present version of myself stayed unhappy. Then I realized that in order for anything to be different, I had to change something or, more accurately, someone—me.
Here are six steps that helped me do just that. Try them yourself and see if it doesn’t get you from here to happy, too.
1. Be specific. If you’re going to get what you want, you have to know what you want. So think carefully and be specific. Specific doesn’t mean unrealistic. For example, Future You can be thinner, healthier, more educated, better dressed, and can throw more amazing dinner parties than Present You—but she can’t be taller.
2. How does she do it? Now that you have a list of all the amazing qualities Future You possesses, ask yourself how she might have acquired them. If she’s in great shape, she probably exercises regularly. If she’s up on current events and fashion trends, she may read the paper and subscribe to Vogue. If she’s a world traveler, you can just bet she has a passport and a great travel agent.
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3. Be a copycat. Look back at step two. You’ve already figured out what Future You is doing in order to be happy. Present You needs to start doing those things too. Try adopting one of her habits at a time. Give each habit a few weeks to take hold, and then go for another.
4. Take notes. Keep a journal and write down any emotional effects your new habits are having on you. If you started wearing perfume and dressing up a bit—just for you—how did that make you feel? Also take note of any physical effects. If you started exercising regularly, how is that changing your body? You may want to take a photo of yourself each week to document your transformation.
5. Reflect. Every once in a while, look back through your journal to remind yourself of how far you’ve come. You’ll start to see that your Future You and your Present You are one and the same.
6. Celebrate. You have become the person you always wanted to be—a happier version of yourself you used to think only lived in the future. If that’s not a reason to throw a party, I don’t know what is!