Struggling with discipline is like trying to balance between your future well-being and your current happiness or pleasure. Imagine wanting to eat a whole bag of candy now, even though you know it might not be good for your health later on. This battle between what feels good now and what's good for us in the long run can be tough. This is because sometimes it's hard to see the person we will become in the future.
Research tells us that picturing our future self more clearly can actually help us become better at sticking to our plans. According to studies, when we imagine our future selves vividly, it can make it easier to make good choices. So, if you think about how you might feel in the future – maybe healthier and happier if you eat less candy – it could help you put down that candy bar today.
In truth, we often feel disconnected from the person we will be many years down the line. This disconnection explains why we sometimes struggle to do things that are good for us. It's like we're not quite friends with our future self yet. This means that sometimes we don't really think about how our actions today can affect us tomorrow.
This disconnection is why some people keep doing things that don't help their goals. Let's take an example of someone who eats junk food even though they know it's not healthy. This might be because they can't fully connect with their future self who might suffer from health problems due to the unhealthy diet. It's like we're putting our happiness right now ahead of our well-being later.
Now, if we could somehow become better friends with our future self, it might be easier to make good choices. Just think about it – if you knew for sure that eating healthier now would make your future self feel amazing, wouldn't you be more likely to choose that apple over the candy? This is where imagining our future self comes in handy. When we can see ourselves clearly as that healthier, happier person, it's like we're making a promise to them. And we want to keep our promises, right?
To sum up, struggling with discipline is all about finding a balance between what makes us happy right now and what will make us happy in the future. The trick is to become better buddies with our future self. As author and human psychology researcher Peter Hollins wisely instructs, “Think of your future-self experiencing the consequences of your present self’s actions more often. Put yourself in the shoes of your future self with as much detail as possible. Think about how much stress you’ll endure and the real cost-benefit of your lack of discipline. Then, create an actual code of conduct to follow that will promote discipline and encourage you to follow through more often.”
So, the next time you're reaching for that candy bar, close your eyes and imagine a healthier, happier you. Your future self will thank you for it!