Your Future Self
One of the big problems with setting goals is that we’re really bad at imagining our future self.
5 years ago, if you asked me where I’d be and what I’d be doing I definitely would have given you a different answer. I still think I would have said retired from the military. The difference is I probably would have said living in Colorado not Missouri and probably not owning my own business.
In the same way, there will be gaps between your current reality and the future version of you. And that’s partially because when we talk about goals, we’re often talking about long time frames. Consider retirement, for example. That could be upwards of 20 or 30 years from now. You can’t even imagine yourself at that age, let alone plan for it. That’s your parents, not you!
When we start talking about our distant future self, it’s easy to rationalize the decision to not do anything. Something 25 years down the road sounds an awful lot like something that can be started tomorrow.
In fact, our future self can often feel like some other annoying person constantly stealing heaps of fun from our current self.
And yet, while our future self may feel like a big old pain in the neck, it’s important to realize that appeasing that person is still very much in our best interest. Studies show seeing a computer-generated picture of yourself older has been shown to increase the focus on our future selves. It increased savings rates compared with participants that didn’t see an older photo. Here is the full paper and a short summary from the Stanford Center on Longevity.
You may feel like you’re still 35, but if you just celebrated (or mourned) turning 45 or even 50, it’s time to get real. Our future self will be here faster than we think.