We don’t stick to our resolutions and future goals because our minds don’t think of our future selves as “us.” But instead of fighting this inherent bias, you can use it and tweak it to make better long-term decisions.
Science magazine Nautilus thoroughly explains this disconnect between our perception of our current and future selves. It’s a fascinating read. Multiple tests and studies have shown that neural activity when we think of our future selves is more akin to thinking about a third person. Multiple selves is nothing new, but psychologists say that you can harness this trick your mind plays to improve yourself.
Anne Wilson, a psychologist at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, says you need see your future self as a separate being and turn it into an advantage by feeling connected to it. Hal Hershfield, an assistant professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University, recommends building a relationship with your future self just like you would with someone you cared about:
It’s fine to think about that future self as another person—it just has to be another person you feel close to and have a lot of overlap with. The marriages that work best and the friendships that work best are the ones where people feel like the other person is almost part of them. So perhaps the key to being “future-conscious” is making sure that, insofar as our future self feels like someone else, it’s someone we love and care about.
The psychologists point out that this isn’t a universal rule. It depends on whether you are focused on the future or the present. The bottom line is to be nice to your future self, and to do things now.
Meet Future You. (Now be nice.) | Boston Globe
Photo by geralt.