Who you are right now isn’t who you must be. You have a great deal of choice in the person you become.
The results you’re getting in your life right now can change. The person you are in 3 months from now could be completely different. You could have different health, different confidence, more energy, better relationships, and an overall better situation.
But in order to do so, you must answer the following questions:
- Who is your desired future self?
- How bad do you really want this?
- What are the major contradictions between your current and desired future self?
- How committed are you to having what you *claim* you want?
- Are you going to pay the price?
Who is Your Desired Future Self?
You cannot be motivated without a goal. That is a scientific fact. You also can’t have hope or happiness without a goal. As the late grief expert and psychiatrist, Dr. Gordon Livingston said, “The three components of happiness are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.”
You cannot be happy in the present without something you’re excitedly looking forward to. Moreover, you won’t have what Dr. Angela Duckworth calls “grit” — which is passion and perseverance — without hope and purpose toward your future.
A lot of people say you should be “present,” and by that they mean you should ignore the future. But psychologically, this is actually impossible. From a psychological standpoint — the past, present, and future all exist here-and-now. Our view of our past impacts how we see ourselves today. Similarly, our view of our future determines how we feel and what we do in the present.
Without a compelling future which you are increasingly committed to, your present will lack purpose, meaning, and drive. Instead, you’ll become stale. You won’t have grit and resilience. Any little distraction will push you off course.
So the question is: Who is your desired future self?
Do you even know? If you don’t know, then you’re not going to have motivation or direction (see #3 regarding decision fatigue).
Are you looking for yourself? If so, you’re going to be looking for a long time.
Said George Bernard Shaw, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Well, you’re creating yourself with every decision you make. And you’re making decisions every second of everyday (including right now).
The question is: To what extend are your decisions intentional or reactive? How much of your life is on autopilot, based on your current circumstances?
Said Napoleon Hill (emphasis mine): “There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.”
Did you know you can decide what you want?
Just because you want something now doesn’t mean your future self will want it. Indeed, you don’t want various things you used to want, right?
For example, I used to love playing video games all day. I don’t want to spend my time doing that anymore. I’ve evolved out of that and changed my desires since then. But my future self has evolved out of things which the current version of me wants, which are holding me back from getting what I truly want.
There is an anonymous quote: “Someone once told me the definition of hell; on your last day on earth, the person you could have become will meet the person you became.”
Who is the person you could become? Why don’t you train yourself to want that —your desired future self and all that involves?
Define what you want. Then fuel that desire by giving up aspects of your life that are stopping you from having it. With every proactive decision to remove things in your life that are keeping you stuck, your desire for what you truly want will increase.
But you must define it. You must become definitive about it. Your future self must become your purpose.
The Bible says: Without purpose, people perish. Viktor Frankl found the same thing during the Holocaust. He was a Jewish man in the Nazi concentration camps. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he explains that when a fellow prisoner lost hope and purpose for their future, they could no longer bear being in the concentration camp. Without a future to believe and hope in, the present became meaningless. Those who lost hope and purpose quickly died.
You literally need hope to be happy in the now. You need purpose to give your life meaning. You need hope and purpose to become gritty and resilient — to handle anything life throws at you. To overcome the obstacles between you and your dreams.
Who is your future self?
How Bad Do You Really Want This?
Are you willing to get up early to get after your desired goals and dreams? Or are you still sleeping in?
Saying you want something and really wanting it are two different things. If you really want it, you’ll stop distracting yourself from it. You’ll stop hiding it from other people. You’ll be more willing to “fail.” You put everything you’ve got into it, today. You’ll stop procrastinating and burning your precious time.
As Meredith Willson has said, “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”
How bad do you really want it?
You need definiteness of purpose. You need a white-hot ‘why’ — which you yourself define. You are the one who defines the purpose for which you want, which purpose you then fuel.
It’s not about “finding” your purpose. It’s about choosing what you value and what you want. As Frankl said (emphasis mine),
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.”
How bad do you really want it?
Other people out there probably want it more. Will you fuel your desire?
Said the scholar and religious leader, Neal Maxwell, “What we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become.” You become what you desire. Your goals shape your identity, which shapes your behavior. Hence, your view of the future dictates what you do here-and-now.
What do you really want? How bad do you really want it? Just saying you want it isn’t enough. You become what you truly desire.
What Are the Major Contradictions Between Your Current and Desired Future Self?
Look at your daily habits and behaviors. Which ones are clearly keeping you stuck? Which behaviors will your desired future self clearly not engage in?
The former Harvard Business professor, Dr. Clayton Christensen once said,
“It’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time.”
This statement makes incredible sense when viewed in light of the research on willpower. If you’re only 98% committed to something, then you’re going to exhaust the heck out of your willpower. Why? Because without being decisive, then you’re forced to make the same decision over and over. For instance, if you’re only 98% committed to a diet, then in every situation you’re in that has to do with eating, you have to ask yourself: “Is this one of those 2% scenarios when I eat outside of my diet?”
Asking this question creates decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is a lack of intention. It’s a lack of committed decision.
Being internally conflicted (i.e., not being “definitive”) means you’re going to exhaust your willpower a lot and as a result, fail a lot in your progress. This will kill your confidence and over time, stop you from achieving your goal.
So, are you willing to get 100%?
Are you going to remove the contradictions?
If you’re going to remove the contradictions, you need to seek help. You need to be public about your challenges. Stop trying to fight a silent battle. For instance, I know an addict is serious about overcoming their addiction when they finally start being public about their problems, and also public about their desire and commitment to change.
How Committed Are You To Having What You *Claim* You Want?
Are you really committed to what you claim you want? The answer, at least right now, is “no.” Why no? Because as the statement (and image) above says, “Commitment is a statement of what ‘is.’”
Look at your life right now. Whatever you see, that’s what you’re committed to. Whatever you currently weigh, that’s the weight you’re committed to. However much money you make, that’s how much money you’re committed to making. Your commitment in life is reflected, 100 percent, by the results you’re currently getting. If you were committed to something else, you’d have different results.
When you truly commit to the results you want, then your life starts improving. Your future self is what you should be committed to. Everything you do needs to be filtered through your desired future self.
The British rowing team — which hadn’t won a gold medal since 1912 — got committed in preparation for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. That commitment was embodied in a single question they asked themselves before making any decision: Will it make the boat go faster?
This one question allowed them to measure every situation, decision, and obstacle — and to not get derailed from their objective. With every decision or opportunity, every member of the team asked themselves: Will it make the boat go faster? If the answer was no, they didn’t do it. They were committed.
Eat the donut? . . . (Will it make the boat go faster?)
Stay up late and go to the party? . . . (Will it make the boat go faster?)
Because they were committed, they got the result they wanted.
If you want to get committed, you’re going to need to demonstrate that commitment. So how do you get more committed?
- You remove contradictions to your commitment
- You invest in what you truly want (research shows that investment enhances commitment)
- You fuel your mindset through correct inputs and avoiding inputs that stop you (“If we do not create and control our environment, our environment creates and controls us.” —Dr. Marshall Goldsmith)
- Every action you take reflects whatever it is you’re committed to (do something right now to increase your commitment)
Are You Going to Pay the Price?
Condoleezza Rice served as the sixty-sixth US secretary of state. She was also the first female African American secretary of state, the second African American secretary of state, and the second female secretary of state. She has continually defied the odds throughout her life and career. One of the reasons she’s been so successful and innovative is a philosophy she holds. In her own words, “I firmly believe you should never spend any of your time being the ‘former’ anything.”
When it comes to “paying the price,” the greatest price you’re going to have to pay is your current identity. You’ve got to stop being who you’ve been or who you are, in order to become the person you genuinely want to be.
Are you going to pay the price?
Are you going to give up what you’ve currently got for what you genuinely want?
Are you going to remove the contradictions?
Are you going to be open and honest with yourself, and everyone else, about what you genuinely want? Will you go public about your contradictions — seeking help? Will you go public about your goals — seeking support?
Will you enhance your desire?
Will you do whatever it takes?
Will you increase your desire, purpose, and commitment?
Will you become the person you want to be?