daniel goldstein, ted talk, motivation, long term goal, future

How to Resist Instant Gratification and Reach Long Term Goals

How to Resist Instant Gratification and Reach Long Term Goals 960 640 Emilie

Daniel Goldstein, who is in charge of the blog Decision Science News, is an expert in how we make decisions that impact our future. He focuses on the impact of economic and financial decisions, but his research analyzes the way in which we make all kinds of decisions. In his Ted Talk, “The Battle Between Your Present and Future Self,” he discusses the way in which we are less in touch with our future selves than we might think. Although we all know that one day we will get old, and that our present decisions will later effect us, we see our present selves as more “us” than our future selves, and thus show more loyalty to our present selves.

If we eat junk food now, we will gain weight in the future. If we don’t exercise now, our heart and muscles will be weaker later down the road. If we don’t save money, we will have less money for retirement. Often, we do not think of these things as definite. We figure we can exercise more later, or save more money at a later point. But in reality, these are just tactics for us to avoid the reality that our future selves are a direct result of our present. And when forced into a decision, we show more allegiance towards our present selves than future selves.

The key to reaching those long term goals is to remember that we are just as much our future selves as we are our present selves. Protecting and helping yourself in the future should be just as much a priority as helping yourself today. For this, we can try several tactics. Goldstein suggests simulating outcomes so that you can directly see the correlation between what you do today and what happens in the future. For instance, create example investment plans that demonstrate how the amount that you save now influences how much you will have later. Or create model exercise plans that demonstrate how this will impact your health later down the road. If you are a more visual learner he suggests using apps or images. For example, show yourself pictures of apartments you will be able to afford depending on how much you have saved for retirement. There are also apps that can make it look like you have aged or gained weight.

Overall, if you are finding it difficult to keep those long term decisions, do whatever you need to do to simulate future outcomes. And remember, your future is directly impacted by your present!

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