Lifestyle Engineering

Why You Were Smarter Yesterday: burning the bridges and making commitments for tomorrow

We all assume that we are smarter today than we were before. We now have all these extra experiences and knowledge after all. 

But how do you know that for a fact? 

Today’s you thinks about the day from the “practical” place. “I need to eat, do this urgent thing, have this phone call.” But the yesterday’s you doesn’t care that you need to take a shit or do this another small urgent thing. He thinks long-term. 

The yesterday’s you has a much grander outlook at the world. He wants you to be fit, smart and happy. He planned going to the gym in the morning for you. Eating food that will making you feel good and healthy. Being more mindful by meditating.

So who is all that much smarter after all? Perhaps not smarter, but definitely a better decision maker. 

How easy is it to plan an empowering life? There are zero consequences in the moment. Feeling like you want to run a 100 miles through the death valley? Good! Let’s put it on the goals list. You haven’t jogged a mile yet, but the excitement about this great challenge is exhilarating. You get an instant dopamine spike.

Then the first workout day comes. You look at your plan for the day. Frankly, there is more to do than you can handle. Shower, eat, go to work, etc.. You also got invited to this dinner with cool people that won’t happen again. You de-prioritize the run and push it for the evening.  Inevitably, things at work take a bit longer and by the evening your will power is pretty drained.

The today’s you has a lot more to lose going for that run. The opportunity cost of running is missing out on important work, the dinner with friends and so on. 

There is a hell lot to lose, whereas before, there were zero consequences. 

Even if you make the work out today, the one you have for tomorrow will require a lot of will power. Every time you evaluate the run, you also consider the opportunity costs. You pay with willpower and emotional energy every single time. At some point, your willpower bank will deplete and the run won’t happen.

The problem is that you still give’s your today’s you the decision making power. Do you really need to make a choice every time? 

The run has been planned. Nevertheless, you still feel like you can go back on that decision because “circumstances have changed.”

What if you did not have a say? Today’s you has lot more to lose than yourself in the past. You today are biased to eat the marshmallow, to have an easy out. 

Let the smarter you take care of the business! Take the choice choice away. 

In 2017, I did an experiment - a substance-free year. I was not supposed to drink, smoke or take any stimulants outside of coffee. It was an easy decision to make.

Because I made one choice for the entire year, I did not have to evaluate if I want a glass of wine at dinner. No body asked for my opinion. 

I haven’t drunk since then. 

Thinking and feeling creative.

I did another experiment with writing. I found myself procrastinating on writing through endless internet research. At the end of the day, there would still be no words written.

So every evening, I started setting a 1,000 word minimum using the Cold Turkey Writing app. The app turns my computer into a typewriter. You can’t use your laptop until you hit the minimum. The app won’t quit either. 

Now, NOT writing is virtually impossible. I am motivated to write more than ever, because the only way to do the urgent work stuff is through writing. There is no other way.

My trade off NOT to write becomes massive. In fact, this very article you are reading is written using that app. And yes, despite the fact that I woke up later than I wanted to, there is nothing I can do.

Do I regret writing instead of doing other important things? Not ever! Every evening, I put tomorrow’s me in the position he can’t escape.

Writing has now become a consistent daily practice. And I love it now more than ever. 

This is an example of how you should burn the bridges ahead of time, so that the future you can’t flake. And it’s for your own good. 

Wanna know how I ran my first marathon? I had this random thought while doing my reflection. I’d been pushing off my marathon for years on end and that if keep doing the same thing, I would have run it when I am 60. 

Without any hesitation, I googled for the earliest marathons in my area that I could find. 

I found a marathon in 5 weeks from then. About 4 minutes later, I was putting in my credit card number in.

All I knew at the time was that it’s a marathon and it’s somewhere in Spain. I just bought it and trusted that I would figure out the rest when the time comes. But that marathon would be happening no matter what! 

The marathon turned out to be a trail run. When I told a dude at the nutrition store that my first marathon is in 5 weeks AND it’s a trail run, he laughed. “Haha. Good luck, man. That’s a whole different animal.” On the run itself, I discovered that trail run means that you run through the hills on slipping rocks. 

Ran an obstacle race with friends 6 days after.

GREAT! I didn’t have a choice. I’d probably would not have signed up had I researched it. 

Buying that marathon ticket was one of the coolest impulsive decisions I’ve ever made. Maybe it wasn’t all that impulsive. Not it appears to be strategic

Yourself yesterday knows better. He is more foresighted and has nothing to gain from eating the marshmallow or listening to your pathetic excuses. 

If you are someone like me, who can’t just eat a cookie, but eats the entire box, leave your instant-gratification self no choice. Burn the bridges for tomorrow. Make empowering decisions for the future that you can’t escape. 


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