We all need something to look forward to in life. While we hope to live in the present and be grateful for what we have, the reality is, the present can often feel like hard work.

An understanding of our future self can give us the motivation and persistence to keep moving forward even during those less than ideal present times.

A great example is the anticipation of a vacation.  A Dutch study (2010) of 974 individuals, reported happiness levels at their highest eight weeks leading up to a vacation.

It was an interesting study because while on holidays people reported as having “a good time” they were happier anticipating the trip more than being on the trip, and when they returned,  their happiness levels were no different to those who hadn’t taken a vacation at all.


Anticipation and exercise


There are very few people who will anticipate with excitement the hard work of exercising, but there is no denying the anticipated feel good of finishing a workout.

Generally, “anticipation” implies a future reward, and rewards can be a mighty motivator in life, as with looking forward to a holiday or waiting in line under a hot sun for the thrill of a joyride at an amusement park, we enjoy the fantasy of the object of our anticipation.

When it comes to exercise “anticipation” takes on another meaning – dread, and most humans will avoid or lessen the duration of what they dread.

Unfortunately dread leads to irrational and poor decision making.  Researchers from the Institute for Global Health Innovation (2013) found that 71% of participants chose to have their electric shocks sooner rather than later (15 minutes later) even when it meant greater, more frequent shocks in the present. Researchers concluded:  the fear of pain was worse than the pain itself.

Anticipation, (it seems) is a matter of how we imagine ourselves spending time.  Given we have very little time for exercise, means our dread of exercise pain isn’t enough “to get it over with” nor is exercise pleasure enough to engage with it…

Do not despair, there is a way we can use the power of anticipation to motivate us to exercise every day! 


Know thy future self


All people of great success have one thing in common; they anticipate the future needs of people before anyone else and take the necessary steps in the present to create a solution for that future need.

Microsoft, Google, Apple all played this game of anticipation to create their products that we simply cannot do without today.

We need to be smart and do the same. What is it that our future self will need? The answer is simple: health and fitness.

In the early morning when it’s hard to get up for exercise, think of your future self, think of the adventure you will have, traveling the world, experiencing everything that life has to offer.

Anticipating your dreams of future happiness will hinge on your physical health and fitness. The bottom line is, anticipation is a powerful force. It transforms our preferences. It reshapes our values. It alters our choices.

Use the force of anticipation to bring daily exercise into your life now, and you will ensure your future self has the WELLth it deserves to live your dreams.

Now it’s your turn: what are your dreams for your future self, do you see yourself traveling? How will getting  fitter today help your dreams come true?  

I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Or you can send me an email any time! Anna@SquareBoxFitness.com


Live well with WELLth!


Written by Anna: Nutritionist and Exercise Therapist @SquareBoxFitness.com