Happiness
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Your Three Selves: Past, Present, and Future

One of the things that is so important when you’re trying to make huge changes in your life (weight loss, money goals, etc) – is this…

You have to be able to forgive your past self for its mistakes and put in the work for your future self with clarity. Tweet This

We are all plagued by voices telling us ‘we failed before, so why would now be any different?’ With reflection, you can come to understand that your past doesn’t have to define your future and that you are, in this very moment, completely in control of what your future will look like. 

Forgive Your Past Self

More than likely, you’ve made a boatload of cringe worthy mistakes along the way to now. Moments that still stop you in your tracks and make you grimace 10 years later. I can certainly think of a few money mistakes…

  • I purchased a $440 pair of Frye boots on impulse only to spend the next 20 minutes running around frantically to other departments trying to find someone who would allow me to return them. All so I wouldn’t have to face the embarrassment of returning them to the man who just sold them to me.
  • When I failed out of college (I later graduated, another story for another time) I salved my wounds with a whirlwind trip to the local Maurice’s. I can still remember exactly how the $38 ill-fitting, mustard-yellow, ruffle-front shirt looked on me – but I didn’t care, I was emotional and I needed relief. That shirt was worn twice and it stayed in my closet for years after that out of sheer regret.
  • When I left my first ‘real job’ I didn’t have enough money in my 401(k) to maintain the account, so I opted to cash out. Rather than the responsible choice of then putting that into an IRA or other retirement account, 25-year-old me instead cashed out and spent it on rent, groceries and a new winter coat. I face-palm to this day, but the growth in my financial literacy over the last 5 years is astonishing.

There’s more – but these sort of stick out to me as endemic of my issues with how I use money: I’m impulsive, I’m emotional and I used to be ignorant about responsible money habits.

Here’s the important bit, though: I forgive my past self.

Dwelling on these mistakes will only hold me back. I’ve worked hard at being able to reflect on my mistakes and learn from them rather than let them stall me out each time I try to achieve a financial goal. You should to.

Work Hard for Your Future Self

How many times have you looked back and thought – I should have just gone for it. Be it weight loss, a savings goal, getting in shape, going back to school…all of it. You have to forgive yourself for those mistakes. And you have to do the work to get in touch with your goals and values in order to understand what you need to do for your future self.

For me, I’m doing all kinds of things for my future self:

  • I want to be debt free in the future, so I’ve cut my extraneous spending and am focused on paying my debts down faster than ever.
  • I want to be in a good state of mental health, so I’m practicing meditation and mindfulness every day.
  • I want to be in good physical health, so I make small changes like taking the stairs, spending 20 minutes of my lunch to walk, and eschewing soda for water each day.

Your future self is the person who will reap the rewards of your work in the now. Think of who you want to be, what you want to look like, the life you want to be living and start hustling. Keep the idea that everything you’re doing now you’re doing for your future self at the top of your mind.

Be Your Best Present Self

I’m not gonna lie to you – learning the new money habits that will help me pay off my debt has been incredibly difficult. Not that going without takeout coffee has been a travesty – the difficulty lies in coming face-to-face with my impulses and having to redirect myself. Realizing how often you make these rote choices is eye-opening, frustrating sometimes a little defeating.

But I’m doing the best self-work I’ve ever done. I’m actively changing my habits, I’m more aware of my money, I have clearly defined goals and am doing everything I can to meet them. I’ve internalized the idea that life is full of trade-offs, and that I am empowered with choices that can either draw me closer to or push me farther away from my end goals.

That’s me being the best present self I can be right now. It may need to look different as new challenges crop up, but for what I want for myself in the future – I’m doing the right stuff.


In the comments: How are you interacting with your three selves? What have you forgiven your past self for and what are you trying to achieve for your future self?

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