What is Your Best Possible Self?
March 31, 2014 by Dr. Ryan Niemiec ·
This positive psychology exercise speaks to the essence of this quote. You have a wellspring of potential waiting to be tapped and now is the time to visualize a future with your strengths leading the way.
The “Best Possible Self” exercise has been shown to boost people’s positive emotions, happiness levels, optimism, hope, and elevate positive expectations about the future. I suggest you consider it in two basic steps: visualizing yourself at a future moment in time having accomplished your goals and considering the character strengths you’ll need to deploy to make that vision a reality. The research- based VIA Survey provides you with your unique list of character strengths. To help you further with this exercise, consider learning more about your strengths with your in-depth VIA Report Profiles.
Best Possible Self Exercise Steps:
- Take a few minutes to select a future time period (e.g., 6 months, 1 year, 5 years from now) and imagine that at that time you are expressing your best possible self strongly. Visualize your best possible self in a way that is very pleasing to you and that you are interested in.
- Imagine it in close details where you have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing your life goals. You might think of this as reaching your full potential, hitting an important milestone, or realizing one of your life dreams. The point is not to think of unrealistic fantasies, rather, things that are positive and attainable within reason.
- After you have a fairly clear image, write about the details. Writing your best possible self down helps to create a logical structure for the future and can help you move from the realm of foggy ideas and fragmented thoughts to concrete, real possibilities.
- Be sure to write about the character strengths that you observe in this image.
- And, what character strengths will you need to deploy to make this best possible self a reality?
Some people prefer to reverse the process by writing about the image before sitting back and playing it forward in their mind.
I’ve heard a wide variety of people’s best possible self stories. Here are a few (note that when you do the exercise you’ll want to consider far more details that these snapshots):
- I can envision starting a family and we are spending quality time together vacationing and going to activities together in the city.
- I see myself doing work that is meaningful and fills me with a sense of purpose as I help people reach their dreams on a daily basis.
- I have created a small business on the Internet, and with a few employees helping me, I’ve found a way to shift from unemployed to happily engaged in successful work.
How about you? What is your best possible self a year from now?
Don’t know your character strengths? Take the VIA Survey to find out now!
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