The 'future self' strategy is a simple and positive way to becoming your best self
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Who do you want to be in ten years? Do you want to be someone who's more compassionate? More wealthy? Physically fit? Married? Less of a push-over? A better golfer? More spiritual?

Some of us who sincerely ask ourselves this question will be able to become the person they imagine while others will not. Why? According to scientific research, the difference between failure and success is the ability to create a clear vision of our future selves.

Those who achieve this vision are more likely to behave in ways that are conducive to reaching their goals.


To put it bluntly, if you have a strong mental visualization of a future you that is in shape, you will be less likely to eat a bag of donuts and smoke a pack of cigarettes today.

A major reason why people fail to visualize a future self is they don't believe they will change significantly. Psychologist Dan Gilbert explained this cognitive trap perfectly in his 2014 Ted Talk.

"Most of us can remember who we were 10 years ago, but we find it hard to imagine who we're going to be, and then we mistakenly think that because it's hard to imagine, it's not likely to happen," Gilbert said.

"Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished," Gilbert continues. "The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you've ever been. The one constant in our life is change."

via Ted

The good news is that you are going to change over the next ten years. So the best thing to do is have a target to reach or else you will most likely be walking around in circles and changing in ways which you cannot control.

According to psychologist Hal Hershfield, the most important thing is to create a future self that you can relate to and see as yourself. If you visualize a future self that is completely different than your current self or one that isn't clearly articulated, you will fail to reach your goals.

"Seeing the future self as another person, albeit one who feels close to us now, may allow for more patient, long-term decision-making," Hershfield wrote. "Seeing the distant future self as an emotional stranger, however, may result in decisions that prioritize today over tomorrow."

Hershfeld and his colleagues were able to witness this disconnect between our current and future selves using fMRI technology. Participants who had a closer connection to the future self they visualized were more likely to make thoughtful financial decisions.

Those who thought their future self looked like another person, were more likely to think of their future self as a stranger. So they made financial decisions that were more reckless.

Benjamin Hardy, PhD says that the best way to become the future selves we desire is to harness the power of your identity.

"Identity is crucial for driving present behavior," Hardy wrote in Fast Company. "A core tenet in psychology is that the best way to predict a person's future behavior is by looking at their past behavior. However, when you've clarified your future self, and are actively chasing it … then your future — not your past — can be what is predicting your behavior.

Our personal identities are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and are so powerful they are nearly impervious. Identities are the reason why people with dogmatic political beliefs can be shown facts that contradict their opinions and still refuse to change.


via Unsplash

"The brain's primary responsibility is to take care of the body, to protect the body," Jonas Kaplan, a psychologist at the University of Southern California, told Vox. "The psychological self is the brain's extension of that. When our self feels attacked, our [brain is] going to bring to bear the same defenses that it has for protecting the body."

So imagine if you took the most stubborn part of yourself and programmed it to become the person you wish to be?

One way to get started is by writing a letter to your future self.

Make the future you in 5, 10 or 20 years your pen pal. Frequently write to them explaining who you are today and the person you hope to become. This will create a kinship with your future self and make it more likely for you to know what that person will want and desire.

Hardy also has a checklist of how to "define and become your future self."

Imagine who your future self is.

Hold your current identity more "loosely," knowing that who you are right now is temporary, not permanent.

Have the courage to admit what you truly want (tell people about your future self).

Use your new narrative, focused on your goals, to drive your daily decisions and behavior.

Measure your progress (deliberate practice).

Invest in your future self (escalation of commitment)

Never be defined by who you are right now.

Who is your future self?

Where will you be in 10 years?

Who are you "chasing"?

Research shows that you will definitely change over the next ten years. So now's the time to decide, will it be self-directed or the result of day-in and day-out behaviors done with no clear goal?

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via US Secretary of Defense / Flickr and The Today Show

As the nation braces itself for the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, President Biden has embraced the family of George Floyd at what has to be an incredibly stressful time.

Following closing arguments in the Chauvin trial on Monday, Judge Peter Cahill has sent jurors to deliberate. The verdict is expected to come in the next few days.

"He was just calling," George's brother, Philonise Floyd, said about the president. "He knows how it is to lose a family member, and he knows the process of what we're going through. So he was just letting us know that he was praying for us, hoping that everything will come out to be OK."

Biden lost his wife and one-year-old daughter in a tragic car accident in 1972 and his son Beau to cancer in 2015.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.