Reflecting forwards: important lessons from your future self

patient engagement Jan 23, 2019

Don’t forget to download the free guide that accompanies this month’s articles. In it, I show you three simple steps to help your patients choose to live well with cancer. You can grab your free copy here.


I’d like you to cast your mind back to your very first day in your very first job - and I mean your first “proper” job, not your first paper round or something like that!

Perhaps you had just finished college or university. Can you picture it?

How did you feel? Were you nervous? Excited? Anxious? Fearful?

How did that first day go? Was it as you expected?

What did you learn about yourself?

Now, I want you to pause and think about this next question carefully.

Answering as you are today, what ONE piece of advice would you give to yourself as you were starting out?


Here are 10 common threads I’ve noticed in the conversations I’ve had with various cancer health professionals:

  1. Listen to the patient, without passing judgement - take time to assess their situation, find out what their biggest problem or pain is right now to help them discover the root cause - and involve them in their care plan
  2. Have confidence in your skills and trust your instincts - you likely know more than you think you know
  3. Ask for help when you need it - colleagues are always willing to answer questions and provide support
  4. Get organized - keep your diary accurate and up to date
  5. You’re human - you’ll make mistakes. That doesn’t make you a failure - learn from them and move on
  6. Debrief with colleagues or your offline supervisor regularly - especially when working with end of life care
  7. Keep compassion at the core of what you do, no matter how pressurized your workload may be
  8. On that note, be patient - the knowledge will come eventually - it’s the caring that’s the most important part of your job
  9. Be kind to yourself - you can’t fix everything and you don’t have to address ALL of your patient’s needs
  10. Focus on the individual - their wants, needs and health goals

Lessons from your future self

I recently took part in an exercise designed to help me visualise my future. This entailed writing a “diary entry” as if it was 10 years ahead, imagining being the best version of myself I could be, and then dialling that up some more!

It was a fun exercise, and certainly one I’d recommend trying out, but it has left a rather deeper impression on me than I’d expected it to! Namely, I find myself asking, “What would my future self do in this situation?”.

Now there’s a lesson!

“Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” - Buddha

On that note, this week I’d like to set you a challenge. I’d like you to write out your own story - where you are the hero who has seen success at some arbitrary point in the future, let’s say 10 years - and what I’d like you to do is write out 10 lessons from your future self in 10 years.

To give you a little inspiration, here is what I came up with:

  1. Love yourself - if you don’t, no one else will;
  2. Own your mistakes - it’s how you learn;
  3. When juggling #allthethings, remember that the family, health and wellbeing “balls” are made of glass - the work “ball” is rubber and will bounce. Don’t drop the glass balls - they’ll shatter and you’ll spend a long, long time picking up the pieces. Drop the rubber ball - it really doesn’t matter all that much and can easily be replaced;
  4. Keep in touch with your friends - true friendships are worth the extra effort;
  5. Value yourself - or others will take advantage of you;
  6. Believe in yourself - you are more capable than you think;
  7. Let go of guilt - it serves no purpose;
  8. Progress really IS better than perfection;
  9. Start TODAY - don’t put it off until tomorrow (because you likely won’t do it then either);
  10. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen...MAKE time for the things that are most important to you.

In the free guide that accompanies this month’s articles, I show you three simple steps to help your patients choose to live well with cancer. You can grab your free copy here.

And don’t forget, I’m going to be delivering some FREE live workshops in two weeks! Join the waiting list here and I’ll send you a link nearer the time to reserve your seat!


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