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Time Management Tips – Setting Priorities to Change Your Life

Do Something Today That Your Future Self Will Thank You For

By Peter Turla, timeman.com

As a former rocket scientist, I find this quote by Ed Lindaman, Director of Program Planning for the Apollo Spacecraft Project to be very inspiring: “If humankind could spend just a fraction of the countless millions of dollars and millions of hours we spend trying to predict the future, instead on imagining preferred future options together, we’d be living in a different world.” Lindaman is referring to a technique called “Backcasting.”  We used it in rocket designing and you can use it right now to redefine your future and gain insight into what your top priorities should be today.

Here’s how the backcasting technique works. The basic idea is to imagine yourself in the future and look back to today from that perspective. When you imagine your future, picture what your ideal future situation would be a few months or years from now if you could create it any way you wanted. When you’ve done that, add detail to what you’re picturing. Where are you? What’s going on? What have you achieved? How are you feeling? Thinking about the end results helps you to identify what’s really important.Future - crystal ball man

Getting a clear picture of what you want in the future can give you a perspective on life and help you to get avoid getting on the wrong path. Remember, if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat. Identifying what matters to you in the long run will help you to prevent wasted effort running in a rat race that isn’t worth winning.

Once you have a clear picture of a positive future scenario you want to achieve, look back to your present situation and ask yourself, “What significant steps would have to happen to get from the past to where I’m picturing myself now in my ideal future?” When you write those steps down and set priorities on them, you’ll have your action plan for building a successful future for yourself.

It’s best if you write the steps down in reverse order i.e. begin by writing down the final step you’d take and end with the very first step you’d take to begin your path. For example, you might picture yourself feeling great one week from now. You’re thinking, “It’s Friday, I had a great week and I’m going home excited about the weekend.”

Now figure out how this great week came about. For it to happen, there’s more than one step involved.

The LAST STEP is “I’ve finished my work and have plans to spend quality time with my friends this weekend.”

The INTERMEDIATE STEP is “I’m on top of all my assignments and have scheduled adequate time to complete them all by Friday. I’ve also contacted my friends about our weekend plans.”

The BEGINNING STEP is “I’ve made a to-do list of everything I need to do, prioritized the list, and made sure I have enough time to get it all done. I also figured out what I want to do with my friends.”

Try the backcasting technique right now using time travel to various times in your future starting with one week from now and ending with near the end of your life. Describe the ideal situations you want to be in at these points in your future. Look back from that point in the future and write down the key steps that made that ideal situation happen. Your future awaits. Decide what you’d like it to be.

My ideal future

One week from now: ___________________________________________________________

Last step: ___________________________________________________________________

Intermediate step: ____________________________________________________________

Beginning step: _______________________________________________________________

 

One month from now: __________________________________________________________

Last step: ___________________________________________________________________

Intermediate step: ____________________________________________________________

Beginning step: _______________________________________________________________

 

One year from now: ___________________________________________________________

Last step: ___________________________________________________________________

Intermediate step: ____________________________________________________________

Beginning step: ______________________________________________________________

 

Five years from now: __________________________________________________________

Last step: ___________________________________________________________________

Intermediate step: ____________________________________________________________

Beginning step: _______________________________________________________________

 

Near the end of my life: _______________________________________________________

Last step: ___________________________________________________________________

Intermediate step: ____________________________________________________________

Beginning step: _______________________________________________________________

 

Follow the advice of  Epictetus, “First say to yourself what you would be; and then what you would have to do.”

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

Onward and upward,

 

Peter Turla

 

You may copy, reprint or forward all or part of this Time Tips article to friends, colleagues or customers, as long as you credit the information to time management expert, Peter Turla