The Psychology of Your Future

The gist: We often underestimate how much our future selves will change. We tend to think that we’ve recently become the people that we were always meant to be and value “now” the most until it becomes the past.

Dan Gilbert talks about our misconception about the power of time. While the past has proven that we’ve all been constantly changing, we are still inclined to believe that future changes will slow down, if not stop completely. Dan calls this the “end of history” illusion.

While our favorite bands 10 years ago might not matter as much to us anymore, we believe that our dream vacation now will still be our top destination 10 years from now. But in reality, our values, preferences, and even personalities all change over time. It is true that the changes tend to slow down as you age, but we are never in a state as stable as we believe ourselves to be in.

“It’s as if, for most of us, the present is a magic time. It’s a watershed on the timeline. It’s the moment at which we finally become ourselves. Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our life is change.”

This quote really hits it home for me. Every few years I look back and marvel at how much I’ve changed. Yet I still find myself waiting to reach that point in life where I finally have it all figured out, all pieces of my personal history have come together, and I have become the person that I will be for the rest of my life. But experiences have taught me that it’s never the case.

Changes in the past don’t bother us; it’s the unknown in the future that we cannot, or refuse to, imagine. But they are inevitable. One of the most calming things one of my friends has said to me is, you may or may not be at the same spot a couple years down the road, but you are exactly where you are supposed to be now.

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