Someone asked me some questions and I wrote some detailed answers. I'm cross-posting them here because I think they might be useful to someone.
How do you market to your future self?
We humans make choices that are contrary to what we know would be better for us.
How do we engage people’s interest in their future self when the focus for many is narrowly on ‘now’?
I’m also interested in how the choices we make go on to directly or indirectly impact others.
When I got really into the Getting Things Done methodology, I knew that I would struggle to implement it. I listened to every single publicly available podcast interview with people who had implemented the system. So I joined the paid community and participated in the forums. I blasted my mind with "this is the kind of person you are, this is the kind of community you are part of, this is the way you do this" and...I became that person.
This might seem extreme but I did the same thing with money, writing, dancing, storytelling, copywriting, physio exercises, and a bunch of other things. The second I knew that something was the priority for me, I got to work marketing it to myself.
I used to struggle with getting out of bed when my alarm went off. Mornings were crash landings for me. Every. Single. Day. I tried to solve this problem by setting an earlier alarm and snoozing that. No difference. I moved my phone across the room. It worked for a while. But then I would walk across the room, grab the phone and go back to bed. On and off I experimented with things. Maybe a decade went by. Sometimes things worked in the short run. Nothing seemed to stick.
At some point, I wanted to become the kind of person who meditated in the morning.
It might have been the 80th podcast interview I had listened to that suggested it. It might have been some article I read. It might have just been that someone I knew had started. Or a combination. I can't remember.
The idea of being the person who meditated first thing was enough.
I started getting up without hitting snooze.
This was just an example of wanting to be someone who meditated.
Where it came from
I think the idea of marketing to ourselves came from Seth Godin in some interview somewhere. I think there was also something David Allen said in some interview somewhere.
It started with wanting something different for myself and believing it was within my grasp.
At first, the things within my grasp were tiny: making my bed, tidying my apartment, staying on top of laundry. But that locus of control expanded.
Once I realised how much was within my power, I was able to desire greater and greater things.
I wanted to become someone who wasn't in debt. Enough that I learned how to cook.
I wanted to become someone who didn't smoke. Enough that I quit.
I wanted to become someone who was consistent. Enough that I learned to do things I didn't feel like doing.
I wanted to become someone who kept my promises. Enough that I improved my time estimation, project planning, and boundaries.
I wanted to become someone who could just install a habit on a whim. Enough that I created a system for myself that made that as easy as possible.
The disconnect between there and here
I’m personally fascinated by how we humans make choices about our lifestyles that are contrary to what we know would be better for us.
Knowing something is better for us isn't enough, I don't think.
We have to feel like it is within our power to change it. And then we have to want what's better for us.
Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.
It’s like there is a disconnect about how close the future is or that we think we are somehow immune.
Oh my gosh yes. Very yes. I don't think--on a moment-to-moment basis--that it occurs to us that what we're doing today affects tomorrow.
It took a tremendous amount of staring at the optical illusion that was my finances to see the picture emerge: I couldn't be angry at my past self for putting myself in this position if I was doing exactly the same thing for my future self.
I don't think it's an issue of responsibility, I honestly don't.
I truly think that most of us are so busy reacting to and recovering from daily life that we can't possibly consider doing anything differently. The kind act we could do for our future self doesn't occur to us when we're already up to our ears.
(Side note: I think the impact it has on others is secondary to the impact it has on our future selves.)
Something I left out of the above: I couldn't want any of those things until I'd taken care of the basics - sleeping enough, drinking less, eating better, and things like that. It took a tremendous amount of self care to even notice that if I didn't change my behaviour, things would continue going the way they were.
I wrote this very long. I like this version better.