Booming economies like the one we’ve experienced for the last 10 years are great. They create jobs, the create businesses and they create a better way of life.
But they also create something else…
The late, great Jim Rohn said, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do”. In other words, it’s easy to build a stock portfolio in good times. It’s easy to save money when things are rosy. It’s simple to build an emergency fund when the paychecks keep rolling in.
But it’s also easy not to do those things at that time.
When times are good, it’s easy to put off those things as well. It’s easy to kick the can down the road and neglect savings accounts. It’s easy to put off investing for another day. It’s simple to forgo building an emergency fund when there doesn’t appear to be a need for one.
Until there is…
Indeed. The Coronavirus has highlighted the importance of both continuous improvement and financial stability like nothing before it. Unfortunately, the people who neglected both are now exposed.
As Warren Buffett so eloquently puts it, “when the tide goes out, you get to see who’s been swimming naked”.
Many have lost their jobs. Many more didn’t have emergency funds or financial contingencies to fall back on. What’s more, when many of these people do regain employment they may find that what worked for them before won’t be relevant now.
Which brings me to the point of today’s essay…
The battle between present self and future self.
You see, everyone has two versions of themselves. They have a future self that represents who they want to be and a present self which is actually who they are.
The future version creates plans and dreams for a better life. This version knows that hard work, good habits and the power of taking action are what propel us forward in life.
But then, there’s the present self. The present self is actually the one who is responsible for taking that action and getting things done. It’s my present self that is currently writing this blog post, not my future self which came up with the idea and goal for writing this post.
The problem is that the present self prefers the here-and-now over long-term rewards, and therefore the two versions clash in an epic battle of tug of war. The present self wants to chat on social media and the future self wants to read that self-improvement book. The present self wants to go play golf and the future self wants to learn how to invest.
Which one wins?
I’ll answer that in a minute, but first let’s look at an interesting experiment regarding future self and finances…
In one of the early experiments about future self, participants were given virtual reality technology and instructed to look at themselves in a virtual mirror. The experimenters randomized whether participants saw an age-progressed version of themselves (meant to look approximately 70 years old) or a current-aged self. What happened? Participants that interacted with their future self were more likely to delay present rewards and indicated greater intentions to save for retirement.
Which brings me to this point…never make your future self a beast of burden. Don’t neglect it. Rather make it your best friend. Feed it with positive action today. Nourish it with the bounty of good habits and self-improvement in the now. Protect and bolster it by taking steps in the present to build wealth and financial immunity.
Because, with the present and future self, the one who wins is the one you feed. Only the present self can take action, not the future self.
Feed your future self today. More importantly, feed your future self when we return to good times (we will). For then, the invisible enemy of apathy will be more present again. And if you continue to feed your future self, your present will be aligned with your future. The future where you’re financially free.
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
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Ready for more tips on how to achieve the free life? Check-out more articles from the blog archives below: