Future pacing comes from a sport’s psychology practice of visualizing success. The concept is simple. Students use their imagination to place themselves at some point in the future when they are going to be deciphering whether or not to follow through on the values they’ve clarified. The word “pacing” is used because once the client puts him or herself in the future, they then pace at the realistic pace it will take to get there, thinking about the actual movement it will take to follow through on those decisions.
Future pacing is effective because it’s a tool to help solidify those visions and provoke clients to make that action that may have been initially challenging easier to accomplish, because they’ve already seen and imagined what it would be like. It’s essentially pre-paving the action. It’s helping students understand the implications of their habits and how to create new ones. It’s helping them understand that when they take action, benefits are sure to follow.
As human beings we often unconsciously future pace. More often than not, we focus on negative future pacing, meaning we’ll imagine a situation in terms of what could go wrong in order to be prepared to meet that challenge. As a parent you can be conscious of when you use negative future pacing. By doing the exercise yourself, imagining what’s possible when you take these different actions and decisions based on your values, you have a common experience you can reference in a conversation with your child.
Future-pacing has two steps. The first, imagining yourself in the future, making the choice you want to make or having your life go the way you want it to go. The second is continuing to imagine the scene as if it were a movie. In essence you are pacing your mind through your vision in the future. Thus the name, future-pacing.
You can also use future-pacing to imagine that point in your future where you’ve achieved your outcome and then pace backwards (as if watching a movie in rewind) to the present moment.
This exercise with its two variations is similar to the visioning exercise with the main difference that future-pacing places its focus on turning your vision into a movie and sticking with the vision. It’s a great exercise for you to develop your imagination and push its limits.
Here’s some space for you to write out some notes for your vision: