There are a few different “yous.”
The you of the past. The you right here and now. And the you out in the future—your “future self.”
The right-here-and-now me is very good at running many simultaneous simulations of future scenarios. At times it seems that my mind is like a supercomputer, modeling all the various permutations of what could happen tomorrow, next year, in five years. And as those scenarios unfold in my mind, I can start to see all the pitfalls and dangers along the path. This then leads my mind to begin to plan right now for those potential hazards.
This pattern has been useful in my career. Very useful in fact.
However, it has its drawbacks. It leads to worrying about things that have not yet happened, may never happen, and are statistically improbable.
Also, in these simulations the one thing I often neglect is just simply giving my future self some credit. I know I can problem-solve in real time, yet when I think of my future self, I don’t afford him the same skills I’m using in the present to adapt and come up with innovative solutions.
You have a ton of talent. You have ability, knowledge, skills, relationships, and time. At times it can feel like you have none of those things. But you always have some measure of each. And if you run out of time, then everything else won’t matter anyway so no need to worry about it.
If you lower your aspirations and plans because you perceive future hurdles and want to avoid them, then you will miss out on an amazing life. It’s good to do big things. It’s good to have large aspirations. It’s healthy to plan for a good future. Have some preparation for cyclical or unavoidable negative events. But give your future self some credit. You’ll be every bit as special as you are right now. And in the future you will have even more experience, more knowledge, more relationships, and probably more resources.
Take some of the pressure off your current self. The odds that every one of the potential negative circumstances you can imagine will actually materialize are astronomical. And the few hurdles that do come along, you’ll be able to figure out and navigate when they happen.
If you want to do a few practical things today to help your future self out, rather than worry, try these three:
- Save a little more money. Give your future self some extra resources, so if you do face adverse circumstances, you’ll have the ability to overcome them, rather than be harmed by them.
- Read. Buy a book this week and read it. Read part of it or read all of it. Just read. It’s like storing up wisdom and knowledge and keeping it for your future self. That wisdom and knowledge will help your future self have outsized success.
- Maintain your friendships. More than money or knowledge, what we all need to adapt and thrive in the future is friends. Everything we ever accomplish in life is accomplished with the help of friends. Spend a little time this week maintaining a friendship or two. Write a note, make a call, have a coffee.
And back to the main point. Regardless of how much money, knowledge, or even how many friends you have in the future, you will still be able to figure life out. You will be able to thrive in the future. You, right now and in the future, are unique, special, valuable, and more than capable.