Invest in Your Future Self and Reach Your Goals

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Why make New Year’s resolutions or set goals when it’s so difficult to keep our promises to ourselves? The answer isn’t to promise today’s self. When we invest in our future selves, change isn’t as as hard.

Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.

Dan Gilbert, American social psychologist and writer

We know that we’ve changed over the years. We’re not the same people we were a decade ago. It might be a small change, or a major change, but we’ve changed our thinking on a few things, changed how we do a few things, changed a few relationships.

Interestingly, studies show that we think who we are now is basically who we are going to be in the future. We assume that wherever we are now is where we are finished changing.

But this just isn’t true. What is true, is that we change less and at a slower pace as we age, but we still change. Think about your kids – they change almost daily. Now think about your parents – their change is noticable yearly.

But, we all underestimate how much we will change in the next decade.

Dan Gilbert explains it best, with statistics to back it up.

The psychology of your future self | Dan Gilbert

Why is this important? It proves that we are always changing. Changing isn’t hard. It automatically happens.

“Time is a powerful force.” We need to use this force to our benefit, to help us change in the ways that we want. But how?

Brian Clark at Further says, “Change is about becoming a different person, to some degree, in the future. So our present self has to take action on behalf of our future self. Simple enough. Problem is, our brains are wired to value instant gratification over the welfare of our future selves. Neurological scans reveal that we think of our future self as if it’s an entirely separate person.”

Change your mindset: Don’t change who you are today, work to change your future self.

Invest in your future self and keep your new year resolutions

We get our sense of self from our past. In fact, we’re told that the best judge of future behavior is past behavior. But we’ve already discussed how that’s not really true. We do change. We can measure how we’ve changed from our past selves. But we struggle when we try to envision ourselves different in the future. We just assume that who we are today is who we will be for the rest of our lives.

Dan Gilbert says that it’s easier to remember the past, so that’s why we think of ourselves as being that person. But to change in a positive way, we need to imagine who we want our future selves to be and do. The problem is: remembering is a whole lot easier than imagining.

What if we could intentionally imagine our future selves to be the person we want to be, doing the things we know we should or want to be doing?

Visualization is a tool athletes and experts in their fields use to become the best they can at what they do. It’s something anyone can use to become the best they can be in life, too.

What changes are you hoping for in the next year? What’s on your resolution list? As you work towards those goals, think of them in terms of your future self.

  • What does your future self want you to have for breakfast today? It might be healthier than today’s self choices.
  • Does your future self want you to make that impulse purchase – will they still need/enjoy that thing, or would they wish you saved the money?
  • Does your future self want you to smoke that cigarette, eat that chocolate cake or veg out on the couch again? Probably not.
  • Does your future self want you to go for a walk even though it’s raining? They’d want you get exercise.

It’s your turn.

Does this way of looking at your resolutions, doing it for your future self, change anything for you?

How do you keep your resolutions?


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Invest in Your Future Self and Reach Your Goals

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