What is It?
This is a positive psychology intervention which encourages you to think about your future in a positive and optimistic way. In this future you will be your best possible self, living your best possible life – whatever that may look like to you.
How to do it
This exercise could be engaged with as a one-off intervention or alternatively you could spend e.g. 15 minutes on it each day for two weeks.
Take some time to stop and imagine your future. What is the best possible outcome you can think of? Be sure to consider all areas of life that are important to you e.g. family, relationships, health, career, opportunities to learn, personal accomplishments – what would these areas of life look like in your best possible future?
For the next 15-20 minutes (longer if you are doing this as a one-off intervention) write down or mind-map what you have imagined using as much detail as possible. Research suggests that the exercise is most useful when you are specific about what you envisage – e.g. if you are writing about your best possible future relationship with someone, who are you really thinking about, what does the best version of your relationship look like, what kinds of things do you now both feel, say or do? This is a real opportunity to be as imaginative as you like, don’t be held back by the reality of your current relationship with this person. The whole point of the exercise is to project how you would ideally like your relationship to be.
Thinking about your future in this way can help you identify what is really important to you and what you want in life. Imagining your best possible self in the future can build optimism and motivate you to work towards achieving this. Engaging in this exercise can boost your mood and experience of positive emotions as well as potentially building personal happiness in your future.
Malouff, J. M., & Schutte, N. S. (2017). Can psychological interventions increase optimism? A meta-analysis. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12(6), 594-604.
Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. The journal of positive psychology, 1(2), 73-82.