by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA
“There has been a huge breakthrough in life coaching technology!” I eagerly blurt out to you. “I’d like you to try it. You are on the verge of a big breakthrough,” I half-explain.
Together we enter a strange elevator-sized metal box glimmering with a lot of technology. “Don’t worry about any of this stuff,” I reassure you, waving my arm vaguely. “My team runs and maintains the technology.” You sigh with relief and I know you’re ready for the opportunity to take a peak into your future for the sake of science.
“You will have your breakthrough before the year 2017. You can choose any day in that year to see how it’s working. You will be able to ask your future self how you did it and get a sneak peak!” I explain with gusto.
The doors make a loud sound as they seal together. “Okay, we will be time traveling to the year 2017. Since it’s a leap year day today, you get to pick which day we land!” I turn to you excitedly waiting for you to tell me the date to punch into the computer. The date“__________ in 2017,” you say with your voice shaking a little.
“Sounds good,” I say hitting the enter button. The box starts to sway and shake and it feels like riding an extremely fast elevator. Suddenly the box halts. You grab the rail to steady yourself as everything stops. “Are you ready to see what it looks like now that you have [hit Forum, written Lives Leaders Summit/ achieved MDRT/gone upmarket/written a million in premium/[enter your dream]]?”
“Yes!” you say with a huge smile.
“There is something I should add. A reporter from Northwestern Mutual's Columns newsletter is here to interview you to find out how you did it! “ I grab your arm and lead you out the doors as the seal breaks and they retract, “You’ll do great.”
As you emerge you can see right away that you’re at your office. Everything looks clean and organized. You have a team of people who look happy and busy. They turn and greet you, not realizing that you have just time-traveled here. Your eyes take in all of the sights, sounds and smells. You reach out and touch the smooth, cool wall to make sure it’s real!
“Oh, I’m so glad you’re back from your meeting,” says the reporter shaking your hand. “I know it’s been a very busy year from you. Thanks for making the time,” she says genuinely. She points at a chair for you to sit in at a table with her. "Please have a seat."
“I just have a few questions to ask and then I can let you get back to crushing it,” she says with an understanding smile. She flips open her laptop and jumps right in with her questions. [Reader: Answer them sincerely as if you are telling the reporter. Make up your answers right now, assuming this is absolutely real.]
Questions: Why did you decide to go for this particular achievement? How did you feel when you made the decision to go for it? What changes did you make to your practice so you could do it? What advice would you tell our readers who want to achieve a big breakthrough? What was the hardest part of hitting this goal? How did you overcome the challenge? On your bad days, what were your darkest thoughts about making it to the goal? What kept you going? Even though it sounds silly—time travel and all!!—if you could go back in time to Leap Year Day in 2016 what would you tell yourself? How do you feel, today, having this incredible accomplishment? What do you think is next up for you?
After you answer her questions, the reporter closes her laptop and congratulations you. “You will inspire many people,” she says, shaking your hand once more. “Your article will appear in the next issue,” she explains.
“Time to hop back in the box!” I say, appearing out of nowhere. “I can tell you are getting pretty used to how amazing this feels.” You nod and feel a fluttering of excitement in your stomach as you walk back into the elevator-like machine.
This time, the sounds and motion don’t worry you a bit. The machine stops abruptly and the doors open to reveal what’s currently happening today on Monday, February 29, 2016. Even though it looks different now than what it did in the future, you have brought back with you a very clear picture of what’s possible and how to do it that you didn’t have before.
“The time machine is accurate,” I tell you. “This will all happen if you start today. Good luck—you’ve got this,” I tell you looking you straight in the eye.
Coaching Tip Visualizing an outcome that you want has been used for decades by performance athletes to increase success. You can do it, too. The time travel exercise is a great warm up. Apply the same technique to anything—for example a talk you’re giving, an exam you’re taking or a client meeting you have. Close you’re eyes and imagine it’s already happening. Take in all of your senses and make it feel as real as possible. Let your mind show you the best possible scenario and play it out just like a scene in a movie. Your brain will start to change and it will be almost as if you have already gone through the situation when it’s game time—giving you an edge.