What if you could create the feeling of being ahead, even if you’re really not? Through receiving my own coaching, I’ve learned about future focus, an impactful tool that can increase your results by 10. But as powerful as it is, it’s also challenging because of the brain’s tendency to focus on the past.
In this episode, I talk about future focus. I teach you the concept and give you some tips and examples to help you figure out how to shift your brain into this new way of thinking.
In Today’s Episode We Discuss:
7:47 – The time for diving into the past and how I can tell what’s really going on in your head
12:25 – What you want to do with your current thoughts to propel you into the future
15:50 – An example of how future focus can put you in a better place
20:19 – How I coach entrepreneurs to focus on the future instead of the past
23:08 – The challenge that can hold me back when I focus on my future
27:39 – Who do you want to be in 2023 and beyond?
Mentioned In How Shifting Into Future Focus Aligns You For Success
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Welcome to the Time to Level Up Podcast, I’m your host Andrea Liebross.
Each week I focus on the systems, strategy, and big thinking you need to CEO your business and life to the next level are you ready? Let’s go!
Okay, my friends. Welcome back to the podcast. How is January going? How is it treating you? What are you thinking? I believe that you may be listening to this episode at the beginning of January. Let me just check. Hold, please. Let's see. When is this episode occurring? Yes, it is occurring at the very beginning of January. Perfect timing. I'm batch recording and batch recording today, which is always a challenge but I always love it once it's over. I'm actually recording this episode that you are listening to the day after Halloween. That's going to come into play in a few minutes. Just stay tuned.
We are entering a brand new year and I actually love the new year. I love the energy, the momentum, the excitement, and the recommitment to all the things that we want to be, all the things we want our business to be. I love it when we can enter into this January not feeling behind but already feeling ahead.
Actually, that feeling can be created whether or not you really are ahead. I wanted to invite you before we get into the future-focus portion of this episode, we are talking about being future-focused, I wanted to invite you to join me inside one of our coaching containers this month in the year because while being inside there is amazing—I get so many messages from clients about how they had huge shifts in their thinking and therefore in their lives after engaging in coaching and being inside I've Got This or Runway to Freedom.
Being invested and engaged in coaching is very different than listening to a podcast. Listening to a podcast is great. I listen to tons of podcasts—but being actually on a call and seeing real live women being coached who have some of the same exact issues that you do, that's really transformative. What's interesting is that there's really no one way to show up for coaching or inside a coaching container. You can show up anyway and can trust yourself that you're going to get exactly what you came for.
Some of my clients are inside these programs and ask for coaching regularly. Some are just observers, it really doesn't matter. It's just being inside that coaching container where it is magical, just being in there. I hear sometimes with new clients or prospective clients that they want to wait a little bit before engaging because they want to be all in. Well, there is never ever a time when you will be all in. That is your brain tricking you, trying to keep you safe, because your brain knows that by engaging, you'll be creating some change, but I'm going to be teaching you, as I'm coaching you, how to train your brain in a way that will serve you, that will push you out of safe and into amazing. I'm going to teach you how to get your head in the right place.
I'm going to teach you how to get your head in the right place to be able to achieve your goals and be able to solve problems. If you think about the work I do, we probably can separate it into two different categories. There are going to be times when you have challenges or problems that feel overwhelming. This can be a problem or challenge with another person or a problem or challenge with a client. There are going to be some trials of your patients, emotions, and thinking that come along. These tools that I teach inside these coaching containers are so powerful for helping you navigate those kinds of things.
The other thing that sometimes happens is that we have goals or habits that we're trying to develop, things we want to achieve, and ways in which we want to improve our business or ourselves. Again, the tools that I teach inside these coaching containers work really, really well to help you achieve those goals. You can make any of this to a coaching call every week. You can raise your hand, come on, and get live coach, you can just post these questions inside our online private coaching channel, or you can say nothing at all and just listen.
I will interact with you. I want to get to know you. I want to hear your specific situations and questions. What I really want to do is help you create the thinking you need to create what you want and help you apply the tools that I teach to real life. Go to andreaslinks.com, click Work With Me, and then you're going to be taken to a page where you're going to see all the ways in which you can work with me. Right now, the doors are open for both Runway to Freedom and I've Got This coaching containers.
When it comes to investing in something like coaching, engaging in a coaching container, or anything in life for that matter, I urge you to not listen to the past. We're going to use the meat and potatoes of this episode. I know from the past that if I'm not all in, it's really not going to be worth it. I know from the past when I've done something like this, I'm really in for like a week and then I'm not. The past. Today, I want to talk about the future. I want to talk about future focus because this concept that I learned through receiving my own coaching has been maybe one of the most impactful tools that I have learned.
I see tremendous value in it. I've actually gained a greater appreciation for just how powerful it is and how challenging it is, especially if you're not aware of your brain's tendency to go to the past. I see it over and over and over again with my clients that I coach on all different things. They just go to the past. But if I can help them shift to the focus, the future focus, being focused on the future, it's going to 10x their results. But it's also challenging to do. So I want to talk about it a little bit. I want to teach you the concepts and then I'm going to give you some tips and examples to help you try to figure out how to shift your brain into a future focus.
Now, here's the thing, there's a time when it's necessary to dive into the past and I'm not saying it's the wrong thing to do. But that diving into the past usually happens in more of a counseling or therapy-type setting. Their job, a counselor or therapist, is to help you explore the past and heal so that you get to the present and that can be very necessary. But in coaching, we like to spend more time in the future. I want to teach you how to create the future that you want and encourage you to think about the future and to think about it intentionally.
Sometimes we do talk about the past. Actually, a lot of times in coaching, we talk about the past, because a client will come on a call and they'll tell me about something that happened that was challenging, a goal they haven't reached, or an emotion that they don't love, that doesn't feel good or isn’t serving them. We'll go to a past situation, I will ask them for an example, but I'm only going to that path or that example just to gain awareness. Because we're gaining awareness about your patterns or habits of thinking.
We don't really need to know all the details of the past. So many clients will start telling me this long drawn-out story. But what I want to point out to you is I don't need a long drawn-out story. I just need one detail in order to take a look at what's really going on in your brain. Here's an example of that. When one of my coachees says to me, “I have a client who's really difficult.” What they're tempted to do right after that is to tell me a really long, detailed story and maybe even give me a dozen examples of how difficult she was, this client.
I can relate to this because I love telling stories too. A lot of times my husband will say, “Just get to the bottom, what's the bottom line?” Often I've told you stories on this podcast. I've gotten really good at telling stories actually. I can make a story really engaging. I can actually even, with my husband, persuade him into things by the story I tell. When I tell a story to a friend, I'm usually looking for validation or commiseration. I want them to commiserate with me. But when I'm working with a client, and they say, “I have had a really difficult time with X, Y, or Z,” I will often say, “Give me an example. Just one example. Give me an example of what that client said or did not say, or did or did not do that makes them difficult.”
This is going to the past. But the past is just to gain awareness because the real problem is all the problems are really thought problems. We are only having our thoughts in the present. I want to uncover what the problem thought is. When they give me their example, they are really presenting me with a problem thought. The problem thought might be “That action that this client took was disrespectful.” That might be the thought that's a problem. It might be a slightly different version of that. But we can then leverage over the spot and see what your brain is doing so that moving into the future, you have a better-trained brain.
I am not going to ask you a whole bunch of questions about the past. I'm not going to ask you for a ton of examples. I only need one example because in that one example, I can pretty much guarantee I will identify the problem thought, and then we can shift our focus to a future place. We do that by questioning. What kind of business owner, what kind of entrepreneur, or what kind of mom or wife do I want to be in this situation? What woman do I want to be? How do I want to think about my clients? How do I want to feel about my clients? How do I want to show up for my clients? Do I want to think that they're disrespectful? What do I want to do or not do? What do I want the result to be? Do I want to have animosity toward this person?
We have to gain awareness of where you're at right now, what your thought is right now, in order to then know how to move into a future place and figure out where we're going to go. I think that sometimes because the awareness piece takes a while, it feels, to many people, that we should spend our time thinking about the past and observing our past. It can be useful. But I think what's more useful is to just identify our current thoughts. Take the coaching tools that you have learned to help you identify your current thoughts and then simply re-train your brain to think a different way, not keep recreating the same thing. You want to be retraining your brain.
If you believe you're a person who loses their patience easily, your brain takes note of that and will help to create that over and over again, so that you can prove yourself not crazy. Today I had a client say to me, “My husband will tell me that I've spent money on this kind of thing in the past, but I'm the kind of person who spends money on this.” I was like, “Okay, have you spent money on this kind of thing in the past?” She said, “Well, yes.” That's not really the problem that he's saying that you've spent money on this in the past. The problem comes that you have the thought that he thinks it wasn't worth it. That's the problem.
We can't focus on changing his thinking, we can only focus on your thinking. Do you think spending money on coaching is worth it? Well, yes. Then use that thought to drive you or propel you into the future. The problem isn't the fact that he said you've spent money on this in the past. That's hiding the problem. The problem is that you want his approval and you are afraid you're not going to get it. But, I asked her, do we really need his approval? Is he the one doing the work? Is he the one creating the future? The answer is no. We have to look at your thoughts. We have to ask the future you who has created what you want to create what to do. That's the only way we're going to find the answer.
Depending on when you're listening to the podcast, the beginning of 2023-ish, you've got a whole year ahead of you, a whole year in front of you. This is the time when many people are starting to set goals, resolutions, and they're thinking about what they want to do, what they want to accomplish, what they want to change. What's tempting for the brain to do is to go to the past to help them decide what to do and what the problem is. But looking at the past can only tell you what your problem thoughts are right now.
If someone says to me, “Okay, Andrea, I want to make more money this year. I want to raise prices, I want to be better at asking for what I want. I want to develop a routine of looking at my numbers regularly,” whatever that is, then they start telling me about the past, they start telling me that they're just not good with numbers, and they start telling me that they've thought about raising their prices but they never do. They tell me about what they've done in the past and I say, “Who cares? Who cares what you've done in the past or haven't done? What do you want to do in the future? Who do you want to be? Who are you going to be when you are the entrepreneur making seven figures?”
We don't spend nearly enough time thinking about who you are becoming. We don't spend nearly enough time thinking about the future when you are a seven-figure entrepreneur. If we did, we'd be in such a better place. Here's an example. I told you, I'm recording this the day after Halloween and there's Halloween candy on my counter right now. If I want to be healthier in some way, if I want to consume less sugar, then I think not eating Halloween candy would serve me in a lot of ways.
Instead of seeing the candy and thinking, “I’m just going to have one,” and noticing the urge or craving and bringing the story along with me which is I have a really bad sweet tooth and I love chocolate and my kids aren't home this year so that probably means that I just can take all the leftover chocolate, that's not going to help me create the healthier version of me that I want to be.
I'm telling myself a story about the past that I'm the one that has a sweet tooth, that I'm the one that is the chocolate lover, and that no one else is here to eat it so it’s got to be me. What I need to do is to stop thinking about that so much and instead think about the future. If I want a healthier version of me, and there was candy on the counter, what would I think when I see it? Who would I be?
Now, this is challenging because going into the past is easy because we have a whole file cabinet full of data to pull from, like what are you supposed to do the day after Halloween if you're the mom? You're supposed to eat the leftover candy. I have images and there's actually even a smell and taste that goes with it. There's even a little bit of a sound. I have a whole database of Halloween memories, 50 years worth.
Even though a lot of my memories are actually very inaccurate—that's a podcast for another day—I have a whole database of memories to pull from to think about the past. If I say to you, “Tell me about the future Andrea. Tell me about yourself six months from now,” it's really like handing me a blank piece of paper and saying draw me a picture. If I say tell me about Halloween of 2023 when it's only 2022, it's just a blank sheet of paper, and most of us don't like it. Our brains don't like that.
But if I can wrap my head around what it might be like to be the healthier Andrea on Halloween of 2023 in the future, what I would do now or how I would behave now is not to eat the candy. But if I can't go to that future and if I only look to the past, then I'm going to be torturing myself and I'm not going to be willing to suffer for too long so I'm just going to eat it. What would it be like though to not suffer and not eat so much candy? Who is that version of me going to be, the one that's not suffering, that's not denying themselves, but that's also not suffering? What would it feel like? What would it look like? What would be different? What would be different about my day after Halloween routine? What will be different about what I'm thinking and what I'm feeling about candy, about myself, about my body, about all those things?
That's more challenging to do to go to the future Andrea who is a healthier version and ask her what to do today. It's way more challenging, but do you see why it's more useful? It's so much more useful. When you can wrap your head around the future version of you, guess what happens, you just start becoming her. You don't even have to figure out how. You don’t even have to put a lot of focus on it. You just naturally start heading in that direction. This is a little bit, my friends, like what I talked about in the last episode, what do you believe? I believe I can be that person. If I believe I can be that healthier version of me, then I head in that direction and I make my decisions from that belief or from that future Andrea.
This is how human beings work. The things that we're focused on and thinking about, we create in our lives without even realizing it. This happens when I'm coaching entrepreneurs. This happens during a coaching call when someone says, “I'm trying to clarify what I'm going to offer this person,” and I'll say, “Well who is it for? Who's your ideal customer here?” and they'll start telling you about people they've worked with in the past. They'll tell me about customers who've bought from them or clients in the past. I'll say, “Who cares? Who do you want to work with in the future? Who are we creating your future business for?” That's what I'm doing right now. I'm reinventing my business because I'm creating a business for my future clients, based on what I think they need.
Sometimes on these coaching calls, someone will say, “Well, my customer is not going to like it if I make this change. Or they'll be disappointed if I stopped offering this.” Okay, but we could live in the past or we can live in the future. You can't build a future business for your past people. Some of them will come along with you, great, some of them won’t. If this won't be for them anymore, great. This is honestly so glaring in business because it happens not only with your clients and customers, some of your people that were a right fit for you in the past are not going to be the right fit for you in the future. This has happened to me. They're not going to want what I offer down the road.
This is even true within the business, not about clients but within the business. My business plan for the first year served me really well. It doesn't serve me anymore. The way I did bookkeeping, in the beginning, served me well, it doesn't help me anymore. If I think about the past, it's fine, but I'm not going to grow and evolve my business. I have to be thinking about the future, I have to be thinking about where do I want to be in January of 2024. Where do I want to be in 5 years and in 10 years? That's why I love doing the business plan I do now with my clients because we can create visions, we create beliefs, and the actions we need to take come naturally from it.
We identify them, but they come naturally if we have that future focus. Ideally, we're trying to build toward the future instead of dragging the past along with us. You see why this is challenging, right? It's super challenging for me. I don't think I've mastered this. I think I've gotten pretty good at it, but I don’t think I’ve mastered it. I often ask myself, “Andrea, who cares about what happened last year? Let's talk about what's going to happen this year.” I'm getting better at noticing it. I hope to keep growing in this area and get really good at dreaming about the future. That word dreaming is very scary to a lot of people.
I think for me, I don't know about everybody else, everybody's different, but I think for me what holds me back is I tend to judge myself. There's that judgment word again. If I ask myself who do I want to be as an entrepreneur and business owner in the future. If I even ask myself about my physical health or my weight, do I want to be that person that you see every day going for a walk, eating no sugar, or the woman who has a seven-figure business? Do I want to be the person that says, “No, thank you,” when I'm offered an opportunity that really doesn't align with my business? Who do I want to be?
Do I want to be that person that works out every day no matter what, that says no to things that don't align with their future business? Do I want to be the person that doesn't drink Diet Coke? Do I want to be the person that doesn't work only one-on-one with clients anymore? I don't even know exactly who I want to be, but if I want to be the future version of me, what does she do in this situation is really a great but tough question to answer. My brain just wants to go to “I don't know.” It feels like a lot of work to be future-focused. But that is the work worth doing. That's the work we do inside coaching.
We are very, very much future-focused. What do we want this business to be in five years? What do we want it to look like? Who do we want to be serving? What role do I want to play in my business? What impact do we want to make in the world? What do we want to be known for? What is the legacy we want to leave? At first, my brain just wants to say I don't know. Because I have a hard time thinking that far out. But second, if something does come up, I want to shut it down because it might seem hard to get.
But third, if I focus on the future, and I direct energy toward it, it's so freeing. It makes everything super clear, all the decisions. But it's hard to get there. Sometimes I question and I say to myself, “Who do you think you are? You could never do that. You're not that smart or capable of that. You'll never be there. You’re not wired that way. You're not that kind of person.” Any little dream that I even have that comes up, I notice my brain trying to shut it down with judgment, judgment thoughts.
“I don't know if you should really do that. I don't know why you would do that.” That little voice that's telling me those things feels very protective. It’s like, “Thanks so much,” then it goes again, “That might be hard. You need a lot of help with that.” Thanks so much. If I want to stay future-focused, I have to say, “Thank you so much for trying to protect me. But I am going after this. I'm going after my ability to dream big about the future. My dreams will become a reality.”
I had someone asked me, because I did a podcast a few weeks ago, about meeting your own needs. If you haven't listened to that one, go listen to it. One of the steps I gave was figuring out what your needs are. Someone asked me a question, they direct messaged me, and said, “How do you know what your needs are?” That's a great question. How do you know what you really want? In order to answer it, you have to be future-focused. I told this person, “What I do believe is that we can have whatever we want as long as we believe it's possible.”
You don't have to judge what you want. You don't have to judge your desires, interests, wishes, or wants. Because if you do that you start shutting them down. We have to stick to our desires and wants and let them live to hear them out, to give them space, to give them a place, to think about them. Otherwise, you're going to get busy taking care of everybody else. You're going to get busy with your to-do list, you're going to lose connection to that future. You're not going to pay attention to that little whisper.
If you do pay attention to the little whisper, then I want you to pay attention to it and say, “Thanks so much. I really appreciate you trying to look out for me. But the real Andrea is moving forward.” Who do you want to be? What do you want to create in 2023? What might it look like? And I'm not talking about planning. I love planning, obviously, you know that, and I love my Full Focus Planner, but I'm not talking about you figuring out exactly where you want to go and how you're going to exactly get there. I just want to talk about the future you. I'm talking about dreaming. I'm talking about nurturing your relationship with your future you, the Andrea 10 years from now.
I want to get curious about what she wants and allow space for it to come to life just as much space, more space than I do about thinking about the past. You need to at least spend as much time thinking about the future as you do about the past. Ideally, we would spend even more time but let's just get to 50/50. As we move into this new year, you can approach it any way you want. A lot of people like to choose a word, a word like focus, simplify, or motivate. Some people choose a word, if that works for you, great.
But I like to picture my word, what I want to dream about and what I desire, and I want to give that dream and desire space and air time. The way I sometimes do that is by journaling. I just let my brain wander as I write without judging. Go download my Clear Thinking Challenge. I will put the link in the show notes because that helps you dream and figure out what you desire. It helps your brain wander if you can start to create space for your thoughts and put them on paper.
A great thing to ask yourself is “What do I really, really want today? What do I really, really want tomorrow? What do I really, really want this year?” and write about it. Sometimes, and I did this a couple of weeks ago, I think about it. I don't listen to a podcast in the car. I might just put on some instrumental music. I did this for two hours on my drive from New Hampshire to Boston a couple of weekends ago. It was hard. I usually listen to someone talking. But no one was talking. It was just music and I listened to my own brain talk.
Some of the things my own brain said, I'm going to pursue, some I won’t. But I gave my brain some space and air time to wander. I wandered into the future. It's okay if I don't create everything that I think about for the future right now. But it's great if I give it some space. Some of the future thoughts, the future Andrea things, I'll pursue, some I won't. But you've got to go to that future you to tell you what to do now. If you go to the past, you're going to identify a problem thought, not a thought that is going to propel you forward.
If you want to be propelled forward, you need to go ask the version of you a year from now, 5 years from now, 10 years from now, what would she do today in this situation? What's her best advice? She's someone who has it all and who has achieved what you want to achieve. She's done it. So go to that person that has done it and ask them. So, my friends, I hope that you will join me in choosing to have a future focus this year. Let's focus less on the past and more on the future that we want to create.
Let's make room for the ability to make that happen. Let's learn about ourselves. Let's learn about what we need to believe and let that be the guide to our actions. You've got some questions to ask the future you, so I'm going to let you go do that now. If you want help doing that, come join us inside our coaching container, talk about a group of future-focused people, they wouldn't be there if they weren't, I would love to have you this year. Head over to andreaslinks.com, click on Work With Me, and we’ll figure out how to make all this happen. Until next week. Remember, now is the best time to level up your game. Have a great day.
Hey, listening to podcasts is great but you also have to do something to kick your business up a notch. You need to take some action, right? So go to Andreaslinks.com and take the quiz. I guarantee you'll walk away knowing exactly what your next best step is to level up.
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