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You may not be where you want to be when you're on the journey. But you've got to be willing to have vision and foresight that leads you to an incredible end.




A Vision for My Future Self

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify the three domains that align to form their postsecondary future self: College, Career, and Condition.

  • Picture and describe characteristics of their life at age 25.

  • Articulate desired aspects of daily life in concrete ways.

  • Discuss abstract concepts of future personal fulfillment, such as “success” and “joy”.

Background for Educator:

In an exercise of imagining their postsecondary future selves, students will begin to conceptualize their:


future orientation 

plans for educational and/or career pursuits

(Nurmi, 1991, 2005)


possible selves

what is hoped for, what is feared, and what is expected

(Markus & Nurius, 1986; Oyserman et al., 2002) 


By engaging students in this thinking, educators can thread linkages between college-going and college majors, career trajectories, and expected life condition, while helping develop students’ awareness of the supports and influences of their families and their communities.

Before conducting this lesson, the educator should preview the video, “Meet the Three C’s” featuring Roderick L. Carey, Ph.D. (embedded further down on this page).

📄 Open Full Reference List


This lesson is delivered with a combination of video instruction, teacher instruction, and guided discussion.

Learning in a remote/virtual setting? The discussion activities in this lesson can be facilitated in a video-conference setting such as Zoom®, and small group activities can be conducted in breakout rooms. Independent projects can be completed using paper, pencil, markers and other basic art supplies, however modifications should be made if students do not have access to those supplies or a printer at home. An internet-enabled device will be necessary to complete the research aspect of Project C: Three Role Models.

Part 1: Warm-Up and Video

(Suggested time: 20 minutes)

Begin by posing three warm-up questions to help students to begin thinking about the abstract concepts of future personal fulfillment:

1) What does success look like to you?

2) What does happiness look like to you?

3) What does joy look like to you?


Ask students to take out some paper, or open a blank Google Doc, and free-write as much as they can about success and joy (suggested time: 5 minutes).

Next, watch or share the video, “Meet the Three C’s” (found on this page) featuring Roderick L. Carey, Ph.D., with students. If desired, the lesson can be "flipped" such that students complete the free-write and watch the video outside of class.


Part 2: Reactions & Connections

(Suggested time: 10 minutes)

As a whole class / large group, discuss the questions below:

  • What are your reactions to the video? Have you thought about any of the three Cs so far for your life?

  • Which of the three Cs would you say you have thought about most - college, career, or life condition? Which have you thought about very little / not at all?

  • What are some examples of “life condition” that you remember from the video? What does that term mean?


Part 3: Small-Group Discussion

(Suggested time: 40 minutes)

Ideally, Part 3 is conducted in smaller groups (4-5 students is ideal). Consider creating small groups of students so that each student has time to respond to prompts or share, as desired.

Preface Part 3 by establishing a "safe zone" for the reflection. You can say things like, "There are no silly questions, and no wrong answers." Reassure students that they will receive a participation grade – they will not be graded on their answers, but whether or not they engage with the thinking. Share the lesson rubric (PDF) as evidence of what you are looking for from them, and how they should treat each other during the reflection.

As the instructor, read the script below aloud:

Imagine it is 10 years in the future. You are 25 years old. You are living your ideal life — your "dream future" is coming true. 

Take out your device, and open Instagram or Google Images. Find and screenshot 5 images that walk us through a typical day for you at age 25, where you are living your best life. You will need a minimum of 5 images to walk your group through a day in your best life:

  • It’s Friday morning at 8am. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with, if anyone?

  • It’s 12pm. Where are you? What are you doing?

  • It’s 5pm. Where are you? What are you doing?

  • It’s 8pm. Where are you? What are you doing?

  • It’s 12am. Where are you? What are you doing?


Students should be given 20 minutes to find and screenshot images. When they are ready with their images, bring the class or groups together again as a whole.

Look at your images again. What did you choose, and why?


Now, think about the 3 domains that were described in the video: college, career, and life condition. Do your images show any of your goals for college, career, or life condition? Did you realize before that you have these goals? Did the three Cs show up in your images, either on purpose or accidentally?


Two volunteers in each group should now be invited to share their walk-through of their day with the full class (optional).


Students ages 15-17; ideally, this lesson is delivered at the end of 9th grade.

Optimized for Black and Latinx students.


Active Instruction: Approximately two 45-minute teaching sessions

Student Assignment work: Two evenings per activity selected, or a full weekend.



Students should have some familiarity with or exposure to the concepts of:

  • Goals, goal-setting

  • Personality traits and characteristics

  • Fields of study, career industries, related careers

  • Postsecondary education options, such as 2- and 4-year colleges, military, vocational schools



Meet the Three C’s

featuring Roderick L. Carey, Ph.D.


If your students do not have access to a computer or device in class, or if you feel they will not stay on task if invited to use one, you can do this as a writing or drawing exercise. Provide blank paper and ask them to use words or drawings to describe what is happening at each time of the day.


If students are having a very hard time imagining what they want to be doing in 10 years, they may pivot to what they don’t want to be doing. Doing so would have them reflecting on their “feared self.” This is still generative. But thinking hopefully and optimistically is preferred for this activity.

Independent Projects:

It's time to apply what students have learned!

Offer these project assignment options* to extend the learning and help students articulate their vision.

Each activity is designed to be completed independently; this work can occur in class or outside of class.

Download as a student-ready Project Handout (PDF) or Editable Handout (Google Doc)

Bicycle Repair Shop


A Vision of My Future Self

Expand the set of images you gathered in class to create a collage, or write a narrative essay, about your ideal future self. This time, you must express all three domains in your final product — college, career, and condition. You may use a combination of images, words, colors, even textures to depict what your life will look like if you follow your desired education, pursue your ideal career path, and achieve your ideal life condition. When developing your collage or description, work to answer some of these key questions with your project.


Man Using a Tablet


Mastering My Environment

“Condition” can be especially hard to imagine in concrete terms. In this activity, students will design a floorplan for their future home. Remember a home is not the same as a house. Explain that, “A home is more than just a building; it’s where you live, love, eat, find safety, and relax. Will your home be a house, apartment, or something else? What rooms or spaces will your future home include? Why are those spaces important to you? Who will live with you? Draw your future home and describe one key element of each room you design that represents how you will use that space.”




Three Role Models

Research and locate 3 people (famous or not, living or deceased) who represent your goals in each of the three domains — college, career, and life condition. The person you choose for college should have followed an education path that you want for yourself, such as getting the degree you want, or not going to college at all. For your career domain, the person should work in a field or job you’re interested in; for your life condition, they should have elements of the lifestyle that you want. Create a motivational poster depicting each person with a photo, basic facts about them, and major accomplishments or significant moments in their life.


*Remember to differentiate. Students may need to engage with future-self thinking in ways that resonate best with them. Because future selves begin as an abstract concept, it is also essential that students express their vision, and not just talk about it, so that they can articulate and identify with it. Offer differentiated options to complete this expression, such as journaling, essays, visual or creative arts, podcasting, performances or skits, or vision boarding.

Wrap Up:

Depending on the climate and tone of your classroom, you may want to offer an opportunity for students to present their independent projects or otherwise display them in class. However, remember that some students may feel that the content is too personal to share in this way; be sure that sharing is always optional in order to maintain a trusting environment.

Up Next:

This lesson transitions into the lesson on Influences. When you're ready, open the next lesson plan.

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