Present Vs Future Us

All of our decisions can be tracked back to this often overlooked aspect of decision making. The choices we make almost always has a direct impact on our future self, in addition to affecting the present self. For easy choices, like what clothes to wear or what kind of songs you want to listen dont matter that much in the long run, but decisions like what to eat and where to spend money have serious effects on the lives of our future personae. Imagine that there is this person who is 60 years old, living in some distant place, who is watching your every move. Now imagine that when you reach the 60 years of age you will be replaced by that person. Now that person has to live with all the decisions you have made since birth to the day you turned 60. Imagine what the person would tell you if he can tell you how every time you make a decision it makes a difference for them. If you eat well today that guy will longer and with less health issues. If you manage money well, he can live comfortably. If you buy Ferraris and mansions on high mortgage, there is a good chance that your future self will be living in a crappy run down apartment or even worse. You can take almost any important decision your making today and you will be able to find the correlation between that decision and your future self.

In one of his TED talks Daniel Goldstein, a renowned psychologist who has done a lot of work studying how people make decisions, explains how this future self can benefit from what is called commitment device. This is not some sort of science contraption, although it can be, but something or someone who can keep you from straying away from your decision. If you want to quit smoking, you ask a friend or loved one to make sure you never touch the cigarette. That someone or something is a commitment device. Here is the video.

This is significant if you have ever started with something and failed to follow through. For present you, every thing is fine and dandy. You say, ‘ I’ll do this and this and then this, tomorrow’. But when tomorrow rolls in, we neglect doing ‘this’, ‘this’ and then ‘this’ as well. All of these decisions have an impact on the future you because whatever was to be the outcome of those three ‘this’, were never made available for your future self.

I guess, every time we are about to make a choice that would jeopardize any of our longtime goals, it would be fruitful to thing about our future self. From the looks of it, future us will always have the last laugh.

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I am on a blog-a-day-for-a-year crusade. Keep me motivated with your comments. Or tell me some good places to eat at New York.

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