Borrow From The Future

Borrowing from the future takes practice, but it gets easier the more your practice.

Borrowing from the future takes practice, but it gets easier the more you do it.

The next time you feel frustrated by your current situation, I’ve got something for you to try. It’s a simple process that helps you to endure the time while you are waiting for things to change.

I’ve used this technique over the years in my business and personal life to:

  • Land new clients.
  • Figure out the solution to challenging business requirements.
  • Repair relationships.
  • Cope with waiting for medical test results.
  • Learn how to not get my buttons pushed every time I talked with my dad.
  • Figure out how to pay my bills while cash flow was in a crunch.

The Process

For many years, I have used a technique I call “borrowing from the future” to cope with tough times, and to help bring about the end of the tough times. The process is simple.

  1. Feel your current discomfort. That’s right, really dig into how it feels. Talk out loud about it, say how your feel and why.
  2. Use your discomfort to identify clearly what you want. Often, we stumble along not sure of what we want until we get frustrated with something we have. When you feel sick, you realize how much you want to feel healthy. If you are short on money, you want more money stronger than you did before. Discomfort is a great clarifying tool. It’s not enough to say “I don’t want this.” You also need to figure out what you do want.
  3. Imagine the good thing you want arrives right now. This might take a few minutes, because after getting so upset about not having it, it is a stretch to imagine suddenly having it. It’s one of those Ed McMahon/Publisher’s Clearing House moments. The door bell rings and it arrives.
  4. Feel how great you feel. Bask in the good feelings that come when the thing you want most arrives. Soak it in, feel the joy of the moment, the relief you feel, and memorize this feeling. I often say during this step that I’m bottling up this happiness.

As you can see, it is simple. However, it is not always easy. When you are upset, it takes a great deal of willpower and determination to decide to take action. Most people want to just stay feeling angry or frustrated because they feel justified. I’m suggesting here that if you can find the place within you that wants to feel better, you can find a better feeling place. It takes some work, but it can be done. And it does get easier with practice.

The Benefits

Just imagining feeling good when the thing arrives doesn’t make it arrive. However, there are many benefits to finding your way to a better feeling place while you want for what you really want to arrive.

  • Feeling better, and being happier while you wait, makes it more fun to be alive! If you can choose to spend the same week being miserable or being happy, which would you choose? It’s really that simple.
  • The happier you are, the more people will want to be around you. You may not be the life of the party while you wait, but you’ll be closer than you might expect. Isn’t it nicer to have your relationships running smoother and have the support and love of the people around you during this time?
  • When you have a positive outlook, your problem solving skills are enhanced. You think of options that wouldn’t have occurred to you while you were frustrated. This can help you find a creative solution.

Some Examples

A few examples will help you understand what I do.

For example, imagine that my discomfort is the lack of client work. I look at my empty calendar and I see clearly that I need to land a new client. I sit quietly, and imagine that someone refers a new client to me. The phone rings. It’s the new client calling me based on a referral from a satisfied customer. The new client is thrilled that I can do the project, and that I’m available. When I hang up the phone, I feel happy and relieved because I’ve been offered a new project.

In another example, imagine my discomfort is that I’m feeling unappreciated by a friend. I think about the current situation, my last phone call with my friend, and decide that I want to feel more appreciation. I imagine myself going to meet my friend for dinner, where I’m greeted with a big smile and a hug. My friend starts the conversation by telling me a story about how I did something that really helped and made her day.  I feel happy and appreciate having such a great friend. In fact, I find myself happy to see my friend, and wanting to share stories about what the friendship means to me.


There is an old saying that we can’t control the circumstances of life, but we can control how we react to them. I prefer to think that I can manage my reactions. I still get angry and frustrated, but I find a way to adjust myself quickly. I borrow happiness or hopefulness from the future, and it makes all of the difference in the now.

What do you think about this? Are you willing to give it a try? Have you tried something similar in the past? I’d love to hear your stories.

About author:

Charlene is the information strategist behind Crow Information Design.

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