Time and Timeline

In this video, Michael introduces how to use a timeline in NLP.

We can argue that the only physical reality is now. The past is a memory and the future only our imagination. However, the ways we view our pasts and our futures influence how we feel and what we do in the present.

Create a timeline by starting in the future and work back.

A useful rule of thumb is that to create big change we should start our plans from the future we want and work backwards to the present. Then, when we’ve created our plan, check that it also works moving forward from the present.

Starting from the future we want will help us access better states, which in turn give us better internal resources  and thus help us create better plans.

If we start from the present and plan forwards, we usually end up with an incremental or ‘small chunk’ plan. We’re likely to be less creative and ambitious, and this approach works better for management rather than leadership. However, it may be the best approach if we need to solve an immedite problem.

Everything from the past can be a resource.

We can learn from all and any experiences.

  • Good memories give us useful states that we can use in the future.
  • Bad experiences teach us important lessons, and are often critical for our development.

The trick with bad experiences is discarding the emotional baggage whilst extracting their lessons. Sometimes it’s worth impartially looking at our past actions and asking what we’ve gained from that experience. We can focus on how we’re going to use what we’ve learnt, rather than focusing on the experience itself.

Suggested Exercise.

There are many timeline exercises using visual, auditory and kinesthetic modalities. This exercise can be done whilst sitting down.

  1. Sit comfortably. Imaging the future before you as an ever-expanding triangle, full of colour and possibility. Imagine your past going off in a triangle behind. Spend a few moments considering the future you want and what you might do to achieve it.
  2. Imagine yourself far in the future when you’ve created and are living in the life that you want. What do you see, hear and feel? Fully associate into the image and take time to enjoy the feelings.
  3. Dissociate. Step outside yourself, and watch yourself in that future time. From this viewpoint, list the three key elements that helped you get there.
  4. Move halfway back to the present. What did you do to master those three elements? What could you do to further improve upon what you did?
  5. Come back to the present. What could you do now to start introducing those elements?
  6. Imagine yourself introducing those into your life. Imagine yourself moving forward, overcoming any possible blocks that might get in your way, and picking up additional resources, until you meet and exceed your original outcome.
  7. What advice does the future you have? From the time of having achieved your objective, what advice would you give the your younger (present) self?
  8. Start again from the present. Move to the future, this time taking account of the advice you’ve given yourself.
  9. Thank yourself for taking the time to invest in the planning of your future.


The next section considers Hypnosis and Meditation How we can use them as an amplifier for our techniques and improve our health and focus.


KEY NLP Techniques Section Index

NLP Techniques 1: Introduction
NLP Techniques 2: Beliefs
NLP Techniques 3: Values
NLP Techniques 4: Perceptual positions
NLP Techniques 5: Senses ans Sub-modalities
NLP Techniques 6: Strategies
NLP Techniques 7: Profiles
NLP techniques 8: Time and timeline
NLP Techniques 9: Hypnosis and meditation
NLP Techniques 10: Storytelling
NLP Techniques 11: Modelling
NLP Techniques 12: Fast phobia cure
NLP Techniques 13. Progressive dissociation
NLP Techniques 14. Six step re-framing
NLP Techniques 15. Swish
NLP Techniques 16. Visual Squash
NLP Techniques 17. Summary


NLP Techniques | Time and Timeline

NLP Techniques | Time and Timeline