The Future You – And Why You May Not Get There

If you’re not some mindless instincts driven drone, you spend at least moments of your day thinking about the future. Your plans. Your doubts. Your hopes. Events you wish to unveil. People you want to meet. Relationships you dream of building. To see that, you use one of the most powerful tools at your disposal – your imagination. You can see yourself involved in the limitless spectrum of possible outcomes.

Thing is though, that person is not you.

Without a miss, the future you is at least a bit different. Wiser, calmer, fitter? Broadly speaking, more successful? Of course. Unless medically depressed, we always fill the canvas of future with dreams of reality improved over the present day. And with that, quite often vivid, insight it’s natural we do everything possible to achieve what’s there, right?

Thing is, obviously, we don’t. How come?

You could say it’s our natural inclination towards instant gratification. Hundreds of thousands of years of evolution resulting in spectacular increase of our frontal cortex size were just not enough. We’re not there yet. More often than not, we will prefer the minor reward (even false one, provided by unhealthy habit) over future amongst the stars. But that’s not it.

You could say that we don’t really care about the envisioned outcomes. That our needs, deep inside, are wildly different to our wants. The phenomenon is correct, as every effective salesman, product designer, and marketing genius can tell you. Most people have no idea what their needs actually are, hence can be easily implanted with external ones. Still, that’s not the case.

Finally, you could say that as an effect of endlessly evolving reality, plans envisioned by these dreams are just impossible to achieve. That’s just their nature. Whatever plan we create is based on our understanding of the starting point, which is by default biased and only partly accurate. The further down the road, the higher the discrepancy. All planned events, actions, and outcomes are result of our expectations on how the reality will unveil. Unless you’re a project manager in corporate reality, there’s no way you would seriously consider this to ever be correct. And again, that’s not the point.

How come we don’t really pursue our dreams?

There was an experiment, when several people were asked to first think about themselves, then about their projected future during brain scan. The results were mindboggling. They also provided an explanation behind us regularly failing on reaching for the stars.

Simply put, when thinking of our future, we use different parts of the brain than when digging down in ourselves. To be more specific: we use the same parts that we use when thinking about other people. That’s right.

Your brain knows that the future person is not you, even though it fails to notify you of the fact.

If you give it a thought, it actually makes sense. That person and their reality is different to yours. They do things you don’t do, in environment you’re not in.

Essentially, future you acts differently. And when indulging into dreams, somehow, we expect these changes to just happen. As if there was a switch to flip, one making you make smarter decisions, be confident, or just more likable.

This is a wakeup call.

There’s no switch.

Things will not happen unless you act on them. You will not become that person of your dreams unless you change your behaviour. It’s the combination of your daily habits, across all dimensions – emotions, actions, thinking, speech – that builds it.

It’s Monday morning. Best day to get moving, to make this tiny change, to act just a bit differently, shifting towards the way you dream you would do in the future. Tomorrow might just be too late.

Well, get moving then.

 

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