Your Future Self is The Enemy of Your Best Self (How to OverCome Your Present Bias)
You are the greatest obstacle to your biggest dreams.
Humans are time-inconsistent, according to psychologists.
That means you think you need to get in shape, so you sign up to go to the gym, starting next week, but inevitably you end up wasting money because you never turn up to actually exercise.
You lack self discipline to stick to them.
It happens to all of us. We make plans for our future self, but when we desperately need to take action to advance our plans, we choose to procrastinate instead.
Gay Hendricks PhD, said in “The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level, “Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. When we exceed our inner thermostat setting, we will often do something to sabotage ourselves, causing us to drop back into the old, familiar zone where we feel secure.”
We engage in behaviors that seem to help us in the short term, only to discover they get in the way of the lives we really want to live.
In the grand scheme of things, you want the very best results for yourself today, tomorrow, next month and next year.
The bitter truth is that your present self-keeps sabotaging your best self until you take concrete and actionable steps to make a change.
Real change, that means, habit change.
Despite what we think we are going to want in the future, our “present bias” makes it difficult to achieve them.
Change is uncomfortable. Your brain loves routine and hates change.
So you end up choosing comfort over everything that was meant to help you grow, make an impact, or become your best self.
You choose the path of least resistance over the path that might challenge you and help you grow.
You sabotage your life by choosing what’s convenient in the short-term over what you’re capable of in the grand scheme of things.
Craig D. Lounsbrough once said, “The only reason I can’t jump in and engage life is that I’ve told myself I can’t. Yet I can’t help wondering what would happen if I told myself I could?”
We underestimate how hard it is to be our best self in the present moment.
To overcome this time inconsistency, we must do battle with our future self — the one who, in the present moment, will choose to procrastinate.
Learn to step outside your thinking
Whether you believe it or not, you are constantly battling voices in your head.
The resistance is real.
Resistance is an active and relentless force whose sole purpose is to stop you from becoming your best self and from achieving your higher goals.
Your resistance brain is doing its job when:
- You keep postponing your life’s work
- You’re being too self-critical of your work or ideas
- You feel your work is never good enough to ship, launch or publish
- You always find some excuse not to do something.
It’s surprisingly easy to get through life and make a career out of being average… the resistance would prefer it if you did.
Steven Pressfield first wrote about the resistance a few years ago. The resistance is that little voice in the back of your head telling you to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise, to procrastinate, to stay in bed, to stop planning for tomorrow.
The one that tells you that it will never work, the one that worries that people will laugh at you when you decide to do and share your life’s work.
The resistance brain will do almost anything to keep you from becoming your best self.
Steven Pressfield says “resistance by definition is self-sabotage”. In The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven notes that the more resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you — and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.
He explains: “Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”
If your life is what happens to you instead of what you choose to make, do or create, take control today and make the necessary change to live life on your own terms.
Don’t believe everything you think!
Spend some time developing and practicing mindfulness.
Notice your choices.
Are they advancing your long-term goals?
Choosing actions, however small, with full awareness will encourage good habits and momentum.
If you can’t easily articulate how your present action benefits you in the future — and by future, I mean months and years down the road — then it’s probably not an action worth taking.
Start fighting back today!
You can learn to tune out those excuses and keep on moving right through them no matter how much your present self-fights against your future self.
For starters, find something so important that it is worth enraging your prehistoric fears. And start taking action now notwithstanding what your lizard brain tells you.
Break your project, idea, task, activity or goal into the largest possible amount of sub-steps you can imagine.
Write all the steps down.
Go back to the first item on your list and find the smallest possible action you can take to advance it.
Aim for baby steps. Focus on small wins. The idea is to take even the smallest action towards the bigger goal.
Example, if you are writing a book, write 200 words today.
Don’t aim for perfection. Don’t judge your work. Just write.
Ernest Hemingway once said “Write drunk; edit sober”
Use the same mindset for anything you start.
Commit to the process. Even if it’s 20 minutes a day.
Any time you stumble, just get back up and take another run at it. That’s how progress happens.
A work in progress pushes you to continue working on your goal.
People who are ultimately successful in initiating and maintaining major behavioral change usually do it through gradual, step-by-step changes.
Before you go…
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