Do you connect with your future self?

Have you ever postponed your work to another day even when you are aware you are the one who is going to do it anyway? If you answered yes, it’s probably because you don’t consider your future self as yourself.

Let’s dwell into a little psychology for the matter. Hershfield HE’s research suggests that a lot of people tend to put their present selves ahead of future selves when making decisions that could affect their future significantly. This is the case for behavioural, financial and health decisions and many others too.

People often treat the future self as if it is in fact another person. On a general level, individuals make attributions about the future self in the same manner that they do for others, for example, by attributing the future self’s behavior to dispositional factors rather than situational ones, and to make decisions for the future self using a similar process that they use to make decisions for other individual.

The truth is that we are bad at predicting what effect our current actions — be it good or bad — will have on our future and blindly go through it in an impulse. That would explain many financial ruins (mainly retirees), heat-of-the-moment scuffles and passionate crimes.

If we spent a few seconds thinking about what that course of action will lead us into, maybe we won’t put ourselves in that situation. I guess that’s why we have the saying Look before you leap, to serve us a warning.

So, next time you think of postponing your work, assume you are assigning the work to a different person and imagine what their response would be when they are shoved more work without a valid reason. Most likely, an actual different person will not like what you are doing and why should your future self like it any better?

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