One of my favorite methods to helping establish a path for your life is writing a future biography.
What is a future biography?
Basically, it’s a process of reflecting on what you imagine your ideal future to be, and then writing about what that would look like and how it would feel to get there.
I find this exercise to be incredibly helpful because as people, we form thoughts at 1,000 – 3,000 words per minute. That pace of thought can be incredibly overwhelming to process, especially when thinking about something as complicated as the future that you want to build for yourself.
The act of writing, and particularly in the format of a future biography, I find to be so impactful because it enables you to slow down, organize your thoughts, and gain clarity about where you’d like to go.
Approaches to a Writing a Future Biography
Now, there are multiple different ways to approach writing a future biography.
It could be a very robust multi-hour process.
Or you could keep it fairly simple and work through it in about 20 – 30 minutes, which I find to be enough to be provide a good level of clarity.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to keep it pretty basic and focus on a process that is on the shorter, simpler side.
If you’re looking for something in depth, I would recommend Jordan Peterson’s Future Authoring program, which takes a couple of hours and only costs $14.95.
One other thing that I’ll call out before diving in here, I’ve found that it’s helpful to have gone through a values identification exercise before writing a future biography to help frame what’s important to you.
Completing a values exercise up front is optional, but I have found that helpful for me personally prior to starting the future biography exercise.
How to Write a Basic Future Biography
Step 1: Picture Your Ideal Future
To start the process, I recommend that you close your eyes, and daydream about who you would ideally want to be in the future.
While you’re doing this, picture all of the following things:
- What you want your social life to be like
- What you want your family life to be like
- What you want to be doing for work
- What you want your leisure activities to be
- What you want for your mental and physical health
- What you want your character to be like
I’d recommend just imagining each of those things for 5 – 10 minutes.
Step #2: Write for 15 Minutes
After spending some time imagining your ideal future, now it’s time to write about it.
Using Google Docs, Evernote, Notion, a pen and paper, or whatever your preferred method, just start writing about that ideal future for 15 minutes.
Here are some guidelines to shape your writing process:
- Write as if you’ve achieved the life that you were picturing and are actually in it, experiencing it, and feeling it
- Don’t worry about the “how” aspect of achieving that life you want…just focus on what it is that you want and imagine what it will feel like once you get there
- Don’t worry about sentence structure, spelling, grammar, etc., just get your thoughts out on paper
- Write uninterrupted
- Write for yourself and what you want, not anybody else
Step #3: Take a Five Minute Break
Step #4: Write About a Future to Avoid
I find that it helps to contrast the ideal future that you’d like to build with an unfortunate future that you’d like to avoid. A future that could happen if you drifted through life and let your weaknesses overtake you.
As you’re picturing what this future might look like, here are some things to imagine:
- What your life would look like if you let your weaknesses get out of control
- What it would feel like if you didn’t define or pursue goals
To follow this portion of the exercise, just do the same things as in steps #1 and #2 above.
Step #5: Bringing It Together
Once you’ve finished writing, re-read everything and internalize the lessons.
Your future biography, along with your core values, I hope will help to provide some additional clarity about what you want in life.
Now, you just need to go and make it happen.
Good luck to you!