Using your inner mentor

Do you have a dream or a goal? You do? That's great! You are already ahead of the curve, because according to a study done at Virginia Tech, 80% of Americans report they don't have goals. 

Even if you do have a goal, it can sometimes be a challenge figuring out what you can do, what actual steps you can take, to get closer to that goal; to step into that dream and make it a reality.

There is a pretty cool technique in coaching that can help. I call it: using your inner mentor. There are various ways you can use this inner mentor technique.

Here are 3 different options:

1. Make a call to yourself

I watched a movie on Netflix last night called "Before We Go." It's essentially about two people, a young man and young woman, who are in NY City. It is past midnight. The woman is stuck because she missed her last train home, got her purse stolen and her phone doesn't work. The man, who was playing trumpet in the train station, notices her dilemma and offers to help her out. He keeps her company throughout the night until she can get on the first train in the morning. During the 5 hours or so they are together, they become each other's confidants. 

At one point, they are walking through the streets and sharing their problems. The man goes to a pay phone and suggests to the woman to call herself a day ago. This is how that works:

Say you find yourself in a situation you wish you were not in. Pretend to pick up a phone and dial the number to get yourself on the line one day earlier (or however many days, months or years earlier), before the current situation occurred. Tell yourself what you should or might have done to minimize or eliminate the situation. 

You can do this if you anticipate a problem happening in the future, too. Call yourself on the phone and tell yourself a day or two from now what you want you to do about it.

What would you say to yourself? What suggestions or advice would you give yourself? What would you not have done or have done differently, now that you're older and wiser? 

For example, you might tell yourself: "Rather than caring about what other people think, be more concerned about what is important to you about this issue. Because in the end it's you who has to live with it." Or, something such as: "Talk to so-and-so, and be honest and upfront about your thoughts and feelings. You'll be glad you did."

This exercise offers a way of thinking about your life from an outside perspective. You pull yourself out of the problem by putting your mind into the past or the future. Giving advice to your "past self" can impact your life going forward. Now that you've learned a lesson from an experience, you are more mindful of the choices you have going forward. You can use that awareness to do something differently the next time. 

2. Act as if

There is a coaching technique called act "as if." Meaning, you act as if you're already in the future situation that you want. Act as if you already have that job. Act as if you are already in the relationship you want. Act as if you're that person who made a bold request or took a bold leap.

How would you behave, or what choices would you make, when you act from that future place or moment?

This exercise puts you in the mindset of someone who already has what you're looking for, but don't feel you have now. Maybe you're looking to jump up the career ladder to become manager. What would you do, if you were already that manager? What are some things you could start doing now? It's like trying on new clothes, a new scenario, or stepping into a role. 

You are also imagining that the outcome can really happen. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, "I have a dream," is so powerful for this reason. He expresses his vision as if it can become reality. “I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.” This is his dream, but he's talking about it in detail, so you can picture it really happening. You can imagine it.

3. Visit yourself 10 years from now

The third method of using this mentoring technique is via visualization, to visit yourself in the future. 

If you could see yourself 10 years from now, what would your life be like? What would you look like? What friends would you have? What would you be doing? As your future self, what would you tell your present-day self, now that you have 10 more years of experience? What steps did you take to get to that future state? As your present-day self, what questions would you ask your future self?

Listen to this audio recording I made based on a visualization exercise from the book "Playing Big," by Tara Mohr. It takes about 11 minutes to go through the entire visualization.

All of these exercises get you out of your current moment and current place of being stuck and gives you a different perspective, a different point of view.

How about trying one of these techniques on yourself and seeing if it works?