If you were given $1000, of the following four ways, which would you spend it?
Buy a present for your special someone
Invest the money in a retirement fund
Organize a fun event
Invest the money in a checking account
This question was posed to a group of research study participants, however, half of them had just been show a virtual image of their future selves. Those participants all chose to invest their thousand dollars into a retirement fund.
This study was looking at the principle of Present Bias, or our tendency to choose a smaller reward in the present over a larger reward in the future. More specifically, this study wanted to evaluate whether or not feeling connected to our future selves helped us maker better long-term decisions. Or in other words, eliminate Present Bias.
What does this mean for "current" you? Present Bias promotes impulsiveness, immediate gratification, and can sometimes lead to procrastination. Knowing this, every time we make a decision we can consider our future selves.
All this means is we are actively choosing the long-term reward over the immediate one. A solid way to measure if you're doing this is to ask yourself, "Did I do what was hard today? Or did I take the easy route?" Most of the time, the easy route meant you succumbed to Present Bias.
Wait until the weekend to enjoy a night out.
Save up for your next pair of shoes instead of putting it on the credit card.
Lace up your running shoes and get that workout in instead of sleeping in.
Future you will thank you for it.
Write a letter to yourself in 10 years. Who will you be? What will you know?
*Albeit this is slightly cheesy, research shows it helps reduce Present Bias*
When have you chosen current you over your future self? Was the reward worth it?
"We're all just memories of our future selves." - Reggie Watts