Live, work, and love in the present moment.
Do you ever wish you could go back in time and talk to your ‘old self’? Or do you ever wish you could go back in time and be your old self, knowing everything that you now know?
We’re always caught up in this mental loop – thinking about the past and ruminating in the future. But how often do we ever take the time to use those mental projections to our benefit?
Think of all the times you’ve reflected on past situations and apply that same logic right now. What are some of the lessons you can learn from your future self, right now? make some guesses about the things your future self would like you to kow so you can make better decisions in the present moment.
The Things You’re Worried About Right Now Won’t Matter in the Future.
This is a lesson you can apply to the little petty annoyances in your life all the way to the major setbacks and obstacles you’ll face. Intuitively, you know this, but it’s so hard to grasp when you’re in the throws of whatever is going on in your life.
Look back at your life at all the moments that caused you stress and worry, things that don’t even register a blip on your radar right now. Something momumental like losing a relationship or losing a job will barely register now when there was a point that that was all you could think about – wracked with worry about how you’d recover.
But, that’s the thing. You almost always recover. Studies have shown that people who go through catastrophic experiences like losing their ability wo walk end up back at their base level of happiness eventually.
For the long term, I like to think of this quote from Marcus Aurelius:
“You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
For the short term, I like to think of this one:
“If it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes getting angry about it.”
I use them both to remind myself that all of feelings of anxiety and worry i feel in the present moment are inconsequential in the long run. Doesn’t cure me, but it helps.
You Have No Idea Where Your Ceiling Is
It’s crazy how quickly you adjust to growth. I’ve grown used to the life I live now, a life that was beyong my wildest dreams a few years ago. And even though I’m aware of how much I’ve transformed over the past few years, I’m sure there’s going to be a future version of myself that would shock and surprise ‘current me.’
This is how personal growth works. Here’s a quote from Charlie Munger who says it well:
Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Step by step you get ahead, but not neccessarity in fast spurts. But you build discipline by prepearing for fast spurts…Slug it out one inch at a time, day by day, at the end of the day – if you live long enough – most people get what they deserve.
You hit a fast spurt. You grow expotentially when the efforts of your actions start to compound. And it feels a lot like an investement that grows with interest.
In the beginning, investing in yourself is just like investing a small amount of maney, it barely moves the needle. It moves the needle so little that you’ll wonder why you’re even doing it sometimes.
Why try to grow a business when you barely have any customers? Why try to start writing when you have zero fans? What’s the point of persueing any type of dream when you have no available evidence that it’ll work?
You start because you have nothing better to do. Why the hell not? Then, you don’t even worry about the ceiling. Just put in the effort for the sake of putting in the effort and watch the results unfold.
I never had some gigantic dream to start. I just kept hitting milestone after milestone until I realised that pretty much all my limitations were self-imposed.
You Don’t Have to have Your Entire Life Purpose Figured Out This Instant
There’s a great book called Stumbling on Happiness by the Psychologist Daniel Gilbert.
A quote from the author:
“We treat our future selves as thought they were our children, spending most of the hours of most of our days constructing tomorrows that we hope will make them happy…But our temporal progency (children) are often thankless. We toil and sweat to give them what we think they’ll like, and they quit their jobs, grow their hair, move to or from San Francisco, and wonder how we could have ever have been stupid enough to think they’d like that. We fail to achieve the accolades and rewards that we consider crucial to their well-being, and they end up thanking God that things didn’t work out according to our shortsighted, misguided plan.”
You try to make your future self happy. But, the problem is, you can only use the knowledge of current you to make decisions for your futrue self. Your future self might have different tastes, beliefs and interests.
You’re always going to be playing a bit of a guessing game and you’re never going to know for sure whether or not you’ve found your purpose. But that doesn’t matter. You don;t need to find your perfect purpose. Your purpose can evolve with you.
But you’re never going to find any level of purpose by sitting ther and thinking about it. The jury is out. You find purpose through your actions. It unfolds as you stop taking a passive role in your life.
Stop worrying about this idea that you’re going to “waste time” by pursuing the wrong path. You’re already doing nothing by staying stuck in the same spot.
You Can Break Your Negative Patterns and Develop a New personality
I bet you sometimes feel cursed. You feel destined to make the same mistakes over and over again. You’ve labelled yourself to be a certain type of person and it keeps becoming your self-fulfilling prophecy.
I was the lazy kid with potential. Smart, but not focused. Talented, but not diligent. i tried and quit so many little projects and schemes. I dropped out of school. Hell, I couldn’t even keep my apartment clean until my late 20’s.
I’m nothing like the person I was six years ago. I reinvented myself. Not even reomtely the same. I’ve developed a level of persistance that my old self couldn’t even imagine.
How? I’m going to gove you the simple and cliche self-improvement answer. I was tired of being me. “Me” wasn’t getting the results that the person I was deep down inside wanted. Sure, it felt comforting to have an identity and sense of self, but I just thought about the long-term implications of staying the same way and literally said to myself “screw it, I’m done.”
You can do the same. Then, you go through the phases. You try to brainwash yourself with positive thoughts. It doesn’t work terribly well but it get’s enough of the job done to keep you going. Eventually, you rely upon habit and discipline then motivation and pumping yourself up. Next thing you know, your behavoiurs are automatic.
You can apply this method to any skill. That’s the crazy part. You can model and adapt almost any personality trait with relentless practice. You can go from disorganised to disciplined, wallfower to charismatic, broke to wealthy, whatever it is you want to do.
But, you have to let go of who you are. You have to die. That’s the hardest part.
You’re Never Going to Be “Done”
That sense of finality you’re looking to achieve via your accomplishments is never going to come.
I thought that following all of my dreams would give me this sense that I crossed the finish line. Once I got what I wanted, the void would be filled. Instead, I had fleeting moments of euphoria that went away pretty quickly.
The moral of the story isn’t that chasing your dreams is a waste of time. It’s that your life is lived in the present moment and you can’t avoid that fact no matter what you do.
We’re all in a rush to a better future that’s just going to end up being a present moment. So, if we never enjoy the resent moment at all, what’s the point of living?
I try to remind myself of that even now. I have more goals, more milestones, new projects, but adding one incremental notch isn’t going to fully scratch that itch, ever. So I try my best to stay focused on the process no matter what, even if my mind is prone to constantly thinking about the future.
Stop being in a rush. There is no finish line. There is just now. Stop chasing. Start embracing what’s happening right now because there’s never going to be this magical point where you get to rest and bask in the glory of your past. Life just keeps moving.
You have new problems. You have new things to worry about that will end up mattering little in the future, both ups and downs’ You’ll continue to break through new ceilings and none of it will ‘matter’ but it’ll be fun.
I guess that’s the main lesson I’m trying to teach myself and trying to teach you. The over preoccupation with your future self isn’t going to help them. Instead, be mindful of that person. Keep them in the back of your mind while you work, live and love in the present moment.
Stop Chasing Yourself
Sometimes it can feel like a futile effort when you’re spending your day trying to catch up to the initial burst of motivation you may feel upon awakening on a good morning.
It happens all the time.
Once you get some momentum going with your productivity levels and optimism regarding your routines and habits, you might start to notice that going to bed at night isn’t as stressful as it used to be. You finally feel like you have a pretty good idea about how you’ve structured your day/week and aren’t as stressed out anymore. No longer are you laying in bed awake, unable to grasp at the sheep mocking you as one by one they hurdle your anxious brain.
No, not anymore.
Now, you can feel the empowerment and relaxation that comes with having an orderly mindset about your goals and desires. You’ve read the books and articles, you’ve listened to the interviews and podcasts, you’ve gone down enough YouTube rabbit holes that you’ve finally popped your head back out the other side. You’ve found out what works for you and are actually executing on a daily basis.
Or, at least you’re taking healthy steps in the right direction and are starting to feel the evolutionary buzz that comes with true progress.
There’s just one thing: you can’t help but feel like your optimism and productivity are starting to pull ahead of you.
It’s a weird feeling, because aren’t those newly developed traits and habits just a better version of you?
Yes and no.
You may have adopted these new attributes to add to your arsenal, but just because they may be seen as positive doesn’t mean that they’re any more you than were the negative traits that you were trying so desperately to escape.
The thing about these positive qualities is that they exist with or without you. Optimism may become a personal state of mind, but it’s one that we only allow ourselves to access, not one that is fundamental to our being.
I’m getting ahead of myself — and in quite the same way that I’m talking about, actually.
Sometimes, when we let the compound interest of our personal development go unchecked, we can fall prey to what I’ll call chasing our ghost.
It’s the culmination of what we’ve decided is the best version of ourselves.
It’s taking all the right steps and achieving all of the milestones we set out to achieve. It’s getting up early and living to the best of our ability in the most productive, healthy, and creative way it can. Then suddenly, we wake up and feel that we’ve somehow fallen behind ourselves. We don’t have the same get-up-and-go attitude, but it’s okay because we’re following through nonetheless due to our newfound habits of persistence, right?
Still, it feels as if you can’t quite catch up to the ghost that’s 2 steps ahead. It’s running away with your productivity and causing you to forget half of the ideas you thought of and half of the errands and responsibilities you wanted to take care of as well.
When are lives become overly structured, and we don’t give ourselves the flexibility to let our days play out as they may — beyond the rigid control with which we feel we must handle them — we end up frustrated and short-tempered.
- We get annoyed when our breakfast doesn’t settle in the stomach right, distracting us from staying focused.
- We get angrier in traffic because we have somewhere to be and this jam doesn’t fit into your schedule.
- We become more judgmental of people who don’t care about the same things we do because we have a firm grasp on what we want and they’re just floating along happy and oblivious to all the progress we’re making. How dare they?!
- The words we try to write aren’t flowing like they should and they need to flow because you said you were going to finish writing this thing and that thing and if this takes too long, you won’t be able to work on that without staying up too late, causing you to not get the right amount of sleep so you can wake up at your predetermined time!
Run! Run! Run! He’s getting away!
Do you see how this can have a snowball effect? Weeks can go by like this and one day you wake up depressed and exhausted and don’t know why.
When I first started taking more control of how I spent my time, this is exactly what happened to me. Not the exact examples I just wrote, but of a similar ilk.
Now, I realize that there is no ghost of perfection two, twelve, or 200 steps ahead of where I feel I am. I know, and you should too, that we are at the exact step we need to be (Unless of course you’re actively sabotaging yourself and doing the opposite of what you intend. Then, in that case, come on…cut the shit).
Otherwise, understand that you can slow down and speed up your process at will. You don’t need to juice up the idea of your ideal to the point where it takes on a mind of its own and seems to go about your day without you, leaving you in the dust of all the things you could or should be doing.
Stop trying to catch up to yourself if you feel you’re falling behind an itinerary that you made up out of thin air in the first place. Not every shot will be a bulls-eye, not every day will be blessed by the gods.
Not every moment must be spent in a hyper-focused state. Not every positive or negative occurrence must be seen as such and recorded for later use.
Sometimes, what works best is to loosen your grip, let your ship catch its own current, and let it sail where it may.
Your future self will thank you.