Who Wins the Battle Between Your Present and Future Self?

present and future5

As human beings, we often prioritize our immediate desires and needs, sometimes at the expense of our future well-being. Our present self might indulge in an extra piece of cake, skip a workout session, overindulge in alcohol, stay up late, or procrastinate, leaving our future selves to face the repercussions.

This phenomenon is known as “temporal discounting”, where the further into the future the consequences lie, the less attention we tend to give them.

Temporal discounting originally evolved as a survival mechanism. When living in nature and facing life-or-death situations, it was crucial to seize immediate opportunities for sustenance and safety. However, in our modern society where we enjoy longer lifespans and greater safety, this survival mechanism can have detrimental effects on both physical and mental well-being.

The decisions we make at the moment have a cumulative impact: while each individual decision may not seem significant, they accumulate over time. Good decisions lead to favorable outcomes, while poor decisions result in undesirable consequences.

And we can’t borrow time from tomorrow.

In fact, for every minute spent organizing — an hour is earned. That’s because your future self won’t be rummaging through everything trying to find what you need.

The more we consistently deny ourselves in the moment, the more time and peace our future self gets to keep.

Incorporate your future self into the decision-making process

Anne Duke, a renowned professional poker player who held the title of leading money winner among women in World Series of Poker history, boasts total lifetime live tournament winnings exceeding $4 million. In her book “Thinking in Bets,” she emphasizes, “Involving our future self in the decision-making process prompts us to consider the long-term consequences of those decisions made in the present moment.”

Just like when you have to consider your family and friends in decisions that may affect them, you have to consider your future self in your decisions.

Instead of allowing your present self to make decisions in isolation, disregarding the impact on your future self who will bear the consequences, transform the decision-making process into a dialogue between your present and future self.

Some people call this kind of thinking “manifestation” or “manifesting” our desired future outcome, whatever your terminology — the principle is the same.

Keep yourself in mind. What doesn’t cost you today, will charge interest in the future.

Why Regret is a Good Thing

Regret is often viewed negatively because it arises after an event has occurred, and we can’t change the past. However, regret is a potent emotion that can be channeled to enhance our future.


By imagining how our future self might regret our present actions.

Before making a decision, step into the shoes of your future self. Make a sincere effort to envision how your future self will perceive the decisions made by your present self, which will soon become part of your past. This exercise allows you to tap into the power of regret as a guiding force for better choices.

The 10–10–10 method

Occasionally, we may lack the mental energy to vividly imagine our future self’s emotions. In such instances, there’s a foolproof method to get you going.

It’s aptly named the 10–10–10 method.

The 10–10–10 method involves posing a series of three reflective questions to help you project yourself into the future:

  • What are the consequences of this decision in 10 minutes?
  • What are the consequences in 10 months?
  • What are the consequences in 10 years?

By systematically evaluating the short-term and long-term implications of your choices, you can make more informed decisions that align with your future goals and well-being.

Overcoming our inclination toward temporal discounting can be challenging, as it’s a deeply ingrained behavior. You may not always make the perfect decision, but inviting your future self into the dialogue will, at the very least, broaden your perspective to encompass a broader spectrum of potential outcomes.

This approach increases the likelihood of making choices that better align with your long-term well-being.

In the end…

The battle against temporal discounting, our innate tendency to prioritize short-term desires over long-term goals, can be a formidable one. But by inviting our future selves into the decision-making process, we open the door to a more balanced and thoughtful approach to life choices.

We would like to thank Aroosa Khan and Neurosity, for sharing this educational story with us.  Please share your thoughts and/or comments on this or any other article.  And if you would like to get involved and share your experience with Ataxia, please get in contact with us and join our community today.  A place where we empower you to build a healthy lifestyle and raise overdue Ataxia Awareness.  Experience transformative storytelling and share your story to inspire positive change.

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