The One Strategy To Level Up Your Problem Solving

Listen to the full podcast episode to learn about the science-backed practice that has not only changed my life but also the lives of countless people over the last two decades. This is something you can’t ignore if you want to achieve that great goal you identified for this year and write your new future.

Future Writing — a skill that can change your business and life 

I honed one skill that catapulted my career and continues to build my business, relationships, and life. It makes me more available for my priorities and a happier and better human on a daily basis as well. I am excited to share it with you today! When I first began using this technique, I was blown away by its results and haven’t stopped using it since. 

If you’re driven and striving to make the next half your best half, but maybe you’ve had some situation of late that’s been causing you to struggle — anything from

  • having a difficult conversation with a peer
  • increasing work that you wonder if you’ll ever get over the finish line
  • struggling with wanting a more harmonious blend of work and personal life

…you’re going to want to try this future writing technique!

It makes things lighter and easier. And research shows it will increase your overall level of happiness. 

Future writing is so powerful — perhaps one of the most powerful catalysts for change — because it illuminates obstacles and ideas. The best part is that this exercise takes only 5-7 minutes a day! 

The research has found that it’s especially helpful when you are experiencing a down feeling or a problem situation because it can shift your state and your decision-making quickly

Before we get into this Future Writing technique

Think about this:

Are you experiencing a particularly difficult problem right now? 

(When I ask this in a group, most people raise their hand.)

Most of us have something on our mind that we’d be open to improving or is a struggle on some level. 

Now, I want you to think about this: 

Have you ever had a difficult problem, and it later turned out to be something that worked out in your favor? 

(This was something that proved to be a catalyst — that moved you toward something that was better.)

For example, let’s say you leave for several days at Christmas and return to a house that is completely underwater from the third floor to the first because a pipe burst. But! As they are fixing it, you find something that could have become an even bigger problem, and now you avoid it. ( My true story.) 

An example of a problem that turned out to be a catalyst toward something better

Someone I know recently found herself in the ER for a broken arm. While she was getting it set in the ER, they realized something else wasn’t quite right. They took additional tests and were able to detect a rare cancer early that she can begin treatment with now. 

What she saw as a struggle was the catalyst that saved her life.

Other examples:

  • maybe you lost your job and got a better one as a result
  • a relationship ended, and you then met the love of your life  

So what if the problem you are facing right now is exactly what you need, but your mind is playing tricks on you? 

Your brain is telling you, “This is a big problem!”

Despite what you and I know and have experienced — which is that in nearly every case we not only get through the situation, but we are better off for it — our brains seem to forget this every. single. time. 

We think to ourselves, “Sure, I made it through that, but this is really bad! This one is serious. I don’t know if I can handle this one, and if I do, I can’t see how it will bring anything positive with it.”

Sound familiar?  

Rarely when we are sitting in one of these situations is our brain ever going to say, “Oh, this problem will land me in a fabulous position. This is exciting, and I am confident I will come out on top and this is the catalyst for something great!”  

Our brains just do not do that.  

Looking back, it is easy for the brain to see how things aligned to move us forward and worked out to our benefit. That’s easy to do, and it’s willing to go there, but approaching something in the future in that manner — not so much.

But you and I know that our thoughts determine our reaction to things.

What if you could use a “future journaling” process to do what your brain can’t?

What if we could project ourselves into the future and develop a new perspective on what once seemed to be a challenging situation?

What researchers found when they put Future Journaling to the test…

When students wrote a description of their best possible future selves for 20 minutes each day, after several weeks, the students reported an increase in their overall level of happiness.  

When you are down or experiencing some struggle (even a big one that feels absolutely impossible), you can take as little as 5-7 minutes to Future Journal and completely change your state.

This immediately improves your ability to come up with new solutions, creative ideas, and reach a higher frequency, which inspires others and thereby, actually receives the benefits from this situation.  

We will never experience that which we have not first imagined. We will not create what we have not imagined.

Our brain seeks to make what we are thinking right, and therein lies the power of Future Writing. 

This enables us to talk to our brain in the way the brain listens. 

I’ll tell you how to do this in a moment, but let me give another example.  I heard from a lot of you after my recent podcast around a struggle many are having with a long-term pattern of working hard and the deep desire in the next half not to continue this because it is costing you so much.  Many of you said yes, that is me and I have all of those coping mechanisms, I want for approval, control, and safety. But how do I change that now that I know?

First, excellent awareness! You brought to the conscious level what was unconscious. The unconscious is simply what you are not aware of or haven’t seen.

Now, to change that, you can use Future Writing.  I don’t want you to believe me, though, I want you to try it for yourself.

Steps for Future Writing

Take out your journal.

Step 1:  

Write a situation you are currently struggling with. 

A few examples I heard this week: 

  • Things won’t go well when I’m out of the office next week. 
  • A client is irritated with my team because of how we handled this project. 
  • I’m struggling with separating from my spouse.  
  • My job is being eliminated.  
  • My kid didn’t get into the college he wanted. 

Write your problem situation down in one sentence. 

Step 2: 

Write the date of 6 or 12 months from now. Then begin to write out how you want this situation to be, as if it has already happened. In other words, write your ideal future.

Write in vivid detail and as many pages as you want so that your subconscious mind can feel the feelings of your ideal future.

I’ve shared it before, and I’ll say it again since we are talking with the brain—

We have to be able to talk to the subconscious mind in the way it understands.

We have to be able to talk in the subconscious mind’s language so that we can hit the brain’s buttons for change.  We do so in three parts.

How to hit the brain’s buttons for change:

  1. Use consistent repetition. The brain will not hear if you do something once. It takes up to 10x for example of future ideation for it to take notice.
  2. Embrace emotional imagery. The language of the subconscious is not English, French, or Spanish. It’s made up of emotions. You need to smell, taste, see, touch, and use that feeling language. This is why so many people struggle with goals. Goals are often written on a lifeless list — with no feeling.
  3. Write as if the future is already here. It’s done. See it as if there is a checkmark next to it. The brain doesn’t know the difference between reality and fantasy.  

This is how you unlock the dormant reserves of brilliance — the talent, expertise, intelligence — that already exist within you. 

To be clear, you are not writing about how this situation gets resolved. That is not what this is about. 

You’re taking whatever problem you’re experiencing and writing out how great your work and life are — as if it’s resolved. 

Remember this skill can catapult your business, career, and life if you use it correctly — and frequently. 

Here are two examples of what I am talking about…

The situation:  

You are having trouble connecting with your spouse.  

Ideal Future Writing example: 

“My husband and I just returned from a 3-day excursion. We had a wonderful time truly listening to each other and sharing what was on our minds. My spouse was supportive of me and the direction I wanted to go. It’s amazing how close we feel to each other.”

Here’s another example.

The situation:

You’re worried about taking a leap and asking your boss or a board for what you want.

Ideal Future Writing example: 

“It’s hard to believe I was so worried to ask to step off the project and change my work. I’ve finally been able to concentrate on my Genius work. The company is getting the business breakthrough it wanted and I’m finally aligning my life with my priorities and experiencing the peace of mind and freedom I’ve wanted for years but hadn’t thought was possible. It was so easy!”


Tips and answers to questions I get about Future Writing

What if I am completely blocked and cannot imagine a perspective where this is positive or beneficial?  

My suggestion is to write (just once) the perspective or story you currently see playing out. THEN write the exact opposite of that story as your future ideal. And continue to write that story with repetition every day for 3 weeks. 

Can I type my Future Writing?

Yes, but physically writing it is better. Neuroscience shows us that writing connects differently in our brains.  

What if I skip a day?

If you skip a day — don’t worry about it.  That’s the brain’s unconscious resistance to change. Simply return to your Wise self and allow it to be in charge and take the wheel (and the pen) the next day. The worst thing you can do is start getting into self-attack — like I never finish what I start, blah blah. Cancel that. 

When you are doing your Future Writing you are not writing in the future tense.  

You’re not saying, “I will be calm and peaceful when I leave and the team is set up for success.” You’re writing as if this situation is in the past. So you’re saying, “Everything was handled while I was away on vacation for a week. People stepped up, solved problems and amazed themselves and me!”

Do you see how helpful this is and will be the next time you are struggling with a situation or you’re feeling down?

Just grab a journal or piece of paper or if you are heading into that meeting and you don’t have time before going in — simply imagine the meeting going well. 

When you use this technique consistently, it becomes a skill and you begin to make it your go-to for whatever difficult situation you’re facing. You are penning a new future and accessing an inner game advantage that many leave untapped!  

Remember the brain will not do this automatically. You have to train the brain. You have to be in charge. Don’t listen to your brain about your current situation — talk to your brain using Future Journaling.  

Future Writing in just 2 simple steps.

  1. Write your difficult situation in one sentence.  
  2. Then under it write the date 6 or 12 months from now and describe your ideal future in technicolor.  

Today’s problems and stresses are the catalysts for great things.They always have been. Isn’t it more fun to see that now, than to have to wait a year from now? 

When we operate our days from the frequency of peace, we experience the most untapped opportunity in our lives and business today — that’s the inner game advantage!

In this episode, I share:

  • How to speak the language of the subconscious mind.
  • What research shows us about this practice and its impact on happiness.
  • The 2-step Future Writing process that could change your work and personal life.

Resources and related episodes:

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts for more tips, tools, and inspiration to lead the optimal vision of your life, love, and leadership. Remember, a half version of you is not enough. The world needs the fullest version of you at play.

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About Rita Hyland

With over 20 years of experience as an executive and leadership coach, Rita helps leaders — emerging and established — excel in corporate and entrepreneurial environments.

Rita believes if leaders were more clear about how transformation really works and more intentional about creating what they want, their impact, success, and influence in the world would be unstoppable.

Through her coaching programs, private coaching, and masterminds, Rita shows leaders how to win consistently and create the impact and legacy they desire.

Central to Rita’s work is the understanding that you will never outperform your current programming, no matter how strong your willpower.

When you learn to use Rita’s proprietary Neuroleadership Growth Code, a technology that uses the best of neuroscience and transformational psychology to hit the brain’s buttons for change, YOU become both the solution and the strategy.

Her mission is to end talented, hard-working, and self-aware leaders spending another day stuck in self-doubt or confusion and not contributing their brilliant work and talent the world so desperately needs.

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