We think to ourselves that “in the future I’ll be different, I’ll be my ideal self.” We procrastinate about taking the right action and being our ideal selves today, because we feel we have unlimited time or that it isn’t worth it to change right now. Habit changes can also be extremely stubborn and challenging because of a dependency on the familiar and a fear of changing and embracing the unknown.
Regressing Towards the Mean
We’ve grown up and lived a life up to this point utilizing certain habits or lack of habits that we’ve grown accustomed to and comfortable with, and that have not served us well. We eventually see this and realize that we want to change and that it’s time to change. Yet despite our awakening we repeatedly fail to lose the old unhealthy habits we have and acquire new productive habits.
The reason for our failure is due to our desire for seeing immediate results, and when those immediate results don’t show up, we feel demoralized and crave the familiar and comforting old habits that give us immediate gratification. The other reason for our failure is because we are so used to receiving that immediate gratification that giving up those habits is the equivalent of breaking an addiction.
A good example is when people say “I’m going to stop engaging in distractions and avoiding my priorities” and then continue to open new tabs in their browser, going down clickholes and distracting themselves. They do this because they are fearful of making an attempt at creating something and feel uncomfortable at the thought of focusing on important tasks. They fear their responsibility and so they put it off. They also do this because their brain is addicted to the immediate gratification of leisure, not being responsible, and numbing one’s mind.
Transcending Your Addictions
I call these addictions because that is what they are. We acknowledge that we want to change our behavior and become a different person, yet we display no self-control and continually regress back towards our old selves. This is why outside accountability, coaches, and advice can be useful.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. FIND PURPOSE
Establish what you want and what you want to be like. What do you want your life to be like day to day, a year from now, 5 years from now, 10 years from now? Who do you want to become? What are the actions that you’ll have to take to reach your ideal self? Firmly establish what it is that you want and why you want that. Utilize ambition mapping to uncover what it is you need and want to do. By doing this you’ll be more grounded and motivated to change yourself and less likely to rationalize your way back to your old habits.
2. UNDERSTAND FULFILLMENT
We fear failure, we fear looking incompetent, we fear screwing up, so we put off all of our attempts so that we never fail. But by not trying we can never succeed, which means we’re inevitably failing. Staying the same and being stagnant breeds apathy. Changing and growing breeds happiness. Deeply ingrain into your mind that immediate gratification does not serve your long-term interests, it will not make you happy, instead it keeps you the same. Facing your fears, being uncomfortable, and repeatedly being thrown into the fire so that you’re forced to grow and change is where true fulfillment and happiness comes from.
3. REALIZE YOUR MORTALITY
We don’t have a lot of time here alive. Our lives are fractions of fractions of specks of sand. Each day we have, even each moment we have is invaluable. View each day and each moment as an opportunity to become your best self, to find true fulfillment, and to bring value to the lives of others. The best way for you to cherish and respect this gift of life you’ve been given is to make the absolute most of it by becoming the person you want to be and by living your life on your terms.