Each day, you make a bunch of different choices. Most of them will have some sort of impact on you, both your present and future self. By making a certain choice, “each” self will be affected, so it makes sense that both “iterations” of you will be considered in the decision. However, we both know this isn’t what happens. Most of the time, you’ll make a decision that I can even predict: it’ll be the one that serves your present needs more readily, with little regard to your “future” self. Often, your future self may not even register within your mind.
This is an obvious problem, because how are we supposed to achieve our long-term goals if we’re always making decisions that hinder our future selves? If we usually choose the option that is best for our present self, how can we condition ourselves to be more thoughtful about what our future selves should want?
The first strategy I would employ is the “what would my future self think?” scenario. Simply put, when making a decision you should reflect on what your future self would want, without thinking about what we want now. This is a complete reversal of our default state, so it won’t be easy. However, the idea is to do something that your future self would be proud of instead of falling prey to our instant appetite.
Usually, this means restraining yourself from going with your first choice on the matter. If you aren’t used to planning for your future self, this may seem strange at first. But by resisting, you’re setting a precedent for yourself. You’re proving that you can think about your future self, and this will give you momentum.
Next, you need to have some sort of system to reflect on your long-term goals. By doing this, you’re letting yourself see exactly what investing in your future self results in. This can be in the form of a weekly, monthly, or yearly review, in which you look at the total results that you achieved during a certain time frame. You will be able to easily identify if you made progress on your long term goals, allowing you to see tangible benefits to your future self.
These are only a few ways to think about your future self instead of only indulging in your present desires. The idea isn’t to restrict yourself from enjoying life now. Instead, it’s about realizing that you do have a future self that will be affected by the choices you make now.
Remember that your actions don’t only have immediate repercussions. Therefore, you need to keep that in mind when making those “easy” decisions that feel like you’re choosing your default behaviour.