Take Ownership of Your Future Self

Take Ownership of Your Future Self

via the HBR by Benjamin Hardy

In his TED Talk “The Psychology of Your Future Self,” Harvard psychologist Dr. Daniel Gilbert explains a bias that almost all of us have: We tend to think that the person we are today is the person we will always be.

Most people, when asked if they are the same person they were 10 years ago, will say no — but we have a much harder time seeing potential for change in the future. Gilbert and others refer to this as the “end of history illusion.” Despite awareness that our past self is clearly different than our present self, we tend to think that who we are right now is the “real” and “finished” version of ourselves, and our future self will be basically the same as who we are today. Gilbert puts it simply: “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.”

Your personality, skills, likes, and dislikes change over time — whether you’re intentional about that change or not. A recently published study that spanned more than 60 years found that the personalities of nearly all participants were completely different than they had been 60 years prior.

Change is inevitable, but it’s not out of your control. Below, we provide three strategies to help you become your desired future self.

Step 1: Distinguish Your Former, Current, and Future Selves

As a rule, people tend to place extreme emphasis on their present selves. We tend to cling to our current identities and speak in incredibly definitive terms about who we are now, i.e., “I’m an introvert,” “I’m not good with people,” etc. These labels leave little wiggle room for change and growth, creating what Harvard psychologist Dr. Ellen Langer calls “mindlessness.”

When you assume a label about yourself, you stop seeing alternatives. As Langer explains, “If something is presented as an accepted truth, alternative ways of thinking do not even come up for consideration … [for example] when people are depressed they tend to believe they are depressed all the time. Mindful attention to variability shows this is not the case.”

The truth is, you’re not the same person you were in the past. You don’t do things the same way you once did. You no longer want what you once wanted. Instead of labeling yourself and focusing on who you are today, recognize how much you’ve grown and changed from your former self.

As entrepreneurial coach Dan Sullivan explains, you should “measure the gain, not the gap.” You can train yourself to see even short-term growth by measuring progress on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Just ask yourself: What wins have I had in the past 90 days? Once you start to distinguish between your current and former selves, it becomes possible to view your future self as a different person as well…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE

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