You in 5 years ago is not you today. Hopefully, you have gained more wisdom now compared to 5 years ago. You have become more successful today than 5 years ago. Likewise, you in 5 years in the future will not be the same person as you today. The future you will, hopefully, be closer to your goals than you in the present. For better or worse, your past, present, and future selves are all different.
However, it’s also true that your past, present, and future selves are all the same person after all. Your past, present, and future are all connected. Your past affects your present and your present affects your future. That makes sense because time flows in one direction: Past->Present->Future. It doesn’t work the other way around. We can’t go back to the past. Nor can anything come from the futre. Or can it?
Here’s how. Although you can’t change the past, your past can be reinterpreted by your present self. Similarly, your future technically does not exist, but your present self can reimagine your future to shape the present. Your past, present, and future are all connected in a way that they all influence one another.
Change the Past
For example, you can change your past by changing your present mindset about your past. Of course, you can’t change what happened in the past. But you can change how you recall what happened in the past by interpreting the past event for your benefit. Don’t be a victim of your past. Be a victor. Adopt the mindset that everything happened for you, not to you. You can learn a great deal from your past, even a traumatic past event, when you decide to change how you interpret it.
Here’s the video where Daniel Kahneman explains the concept of the experiencing self and the remembering self. Simply put, the experiencing self lives through the event in the present moment while the remembering self interprets the event afterwards.
For example, you went to Disneyland for your vacation last summer. The experiencing self is you in Disneyland last summer and the remembering self is you recalling your vacation today. And the interesting fact is that the way these two selves evaluate the same event can be different. Your remembering self has the pivotal role in decision-making. Your experiencing self might have had a great fun last summer. So perhaps, at the moment, you had a positive experience. But now as you are remembering the event, you recall the long wait, distasteful food, and obnoxious tourists. Suddenly, because of these negative memories, you decide never to return to Disneyland even though you had a lot of fun. The experiencing self is important but the remembering self is a game changer.
The way you change your unpleasant past experiences is to have a positive interpretation of the experience. One effective way to do that is to think about what you could learn from the past no matter what.
Gift from the Future
We know that the future is the product of how we live today. But, the direction of influence can actually go either way. Just as your present affects your future, your future can also affect your present.
- Your belief affects your ideas.
- Your ideas affect your feelings.
- And your feelings will affect your behaviors and how you behave changes your reality.
It all begins with your belief. And your belief is your choice. You can create your own beliefs because all belief is your choice. What you believe about yourself, your life, and your future, then, is also your choice.
Do you want to change your present life? Then, start believing in your future self. Think about what your future self can accomplish now. Your belief about your future self will affect your ideas and and feelings and eventually your behaviors. And your behaviors in turn will change your present reality.
This is where the payoff comes into play.
In the previous article, we came up with a game plan. One of the great motivators that keeps you in the game and allows you to execute your plan is the concept of payoff. The payoff is basically imagining the future where you are solving the problem and helping others solve their problems too. Your future self is the result of your belief about your future. Imagining the future self is a great motivator.
Do this thought experiment.
Imagine what you were like 5 years ago. Your past didn’t just happen to you but for you. You can “change” your past by reinterpreting it. Likewise, your present is determined by how your future self interprets it. And you can reimagine your future self right now.
What kind of present reality do you want to have? Create your own future self who lives in that reality. Adopt your future self. Keep in mind the payoff that your future self is going to give your present self. Let your belief seep through your thinking, feeling, and doing. Let your belief about your future self dictate your current life. Imagine the payoff as you execute your plan.