HAVE you ever considered if the person you are today and the person you will be 10 years from now will be the same person?
Research shows that we tend to view and treat our future selves as another person, much like a stranger to be exact.
This perhaps explains why some people will choose to maximise their experience today without striking a balance. Consider an example of a person who made a conscious decision to smoke, for instance, knowing that this may lead to health risks in the future.
In another example, we may choose to continue to delay saving up for emergencies but to maximise our ability to spend now. We know that one day, we may get into a tough spot should some unexpected events happen, but because the reward today seems much more real compared to the threat in the future, we decided it can wait.
At the same time, if today you plan to exercise tomorrow, your future self may drop the idea due to a lack of motivation. This makes it very tough for you to plan and create the future we want now.
So, perhaps we have to try to think more about our future selves and try to connect with them more.
However, this seems like a very fictional idea, since none of us can time travel. But think about this, we have been practising this, trying to get our future-self to do what we planned.
Considering the time you set a reminder to remind yourself to call someone or arrive at an event, or when you write down an important event in your calendar. These are your efforts to remind the future you to do what you have committed to do.
While we cannot literally and physically travel to the future, we can, however, plant the idea and leave a message for the future us, so that this ‘person’ is reminded of the importance or urgency of certain things, tasks, or actions.
I have practised writing a letter to ‘future me’ for the past few years.
Recently, on my birthday, I received a letter from myself from a year ago. The contents of that letter were written when the past me was feeling calm and in a position of strength. In that letter, he reminded me that it is important for me to practise self-compassion. It also told me about what he planned to achieve and why those items were important to him, and encouraged me to celebrate progress and be less focused on making things perfect.
Indeed, that was quite a powerful reminder.
Many times, through my work as a financial life planner and coach, I engaged with clients in conversation regarding their values and identified their future plans to increase clarity around these important life transition events and goals.
Through lifetime cash flow modelling, we are then able to take a look at how our financial lives will unfold over the next few decades and make changes from there. We then proceed to review the progress regularly to ensure clients stay on track.
This is how we increase the connection between our present-self and our future-self while putting in mechanisms and truly personalised reminders for the future-self.
If you’d like to increase the sense of connectedness between your present self and future self, let’s have a chat. — April 2, 2023
Kevin Neoh is a CFP professional and a certified member from Financial Planning Association Malaysia, he is also a Financial Life Coach.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main photo credit: Bucket List Journey