BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter

"What do you hope to achieve in your life, and what kind of person do you want to be?"

Author: Nicolette Rigg

These are not easy questions to answer, and many of us have never been asked this point-blank. We have all had to write essays and reports about all sorts of subject matter in university. However, we are rarely asked to write thoughtfully about ourselves and our visions for our future, or even more important, about what will happen if we fail to take action.

As graduate students, we have all undoubtedly thought about these questions to some degree or another but doing so in a structured way can generate surprising new insights, even if you have already thought about your future quite a lot.

The Future-Authoring Program is a series of online exercises to help young people define what they want their future to look like and help align their goals with actions to achieve these goals.

These exercises are designed to make you specify your ideal future, prioritize your goals, assess your motives, consider the personal and social impact, and strategize to attain these goals. This program also helps identify obstacles in your way and solutions to these hurdles, allowing you to monitor and evaluate your progress.
Present Authoring
It helps you analyze the positive and negative aspects of your personality, take responsibility for your weaknesses, strategize actionable ways to stop sabotaging yourself now and in the future and find ways to capitalize on and optimize your strengths.

Past Authoring 
To know where to go, you must know where you came from. This section has you write a structured autobiography, breaking your life up in epochs to identify intrusive thoughts and emotions, such as fear, regret, and resentment that you may not have processed but are getting in your way, or harbour negative emotions about the future. This is the most difficult section but can be pretty self-realizing.

Future Authoring 
Writing freely, in a stream of consciousness, you will write about your ideal future 3-5 years out, breaking it down into subgoals with specific plans on accomplishing them, including thinking of the hurdles in your way and how you will deal with them. This will give you a laid-out plan for the future of how to get where you want to in life, with an awareness of the obstacles you may face. You will also be asked to write about the future you do not want; what your life will look like if you succumb to your downfalls and let your weaknesses take over. What you end up with is a simultaneous pull towards your dreams and push away from your fears.

This article provides a general overview of the program. You can learn more about the Future Authoring Program here