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“Future You” – The Reason We Order Big Macs

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A few years ago McDonald’s introduced it’s health-conscious menu with salads and fruit included. Amazingly, Big Mac and french fry sales jumped by 22% almost overnight! How does that make any sense? The answer lies in this little-known fact: there are 2 of you!Did you know that there are 2 of you? There is the current “You” and then there is “Future You” or maybe “You 2.0”. How are they different? Let’s find out:

“You” is the person you are today. You have good qualities and bad qualities, sometimes you are pro-active and sometimes you procrastinate. You may feel too tired to put energy into some activities. You may act on impulses or hate to exercise. You probably really dislike doing the laundry or yard work.

But “Future You” is different. Future You has no problem with procrastination because Future You has endless energy for all tasks, no matter how boring or difficult. Future You has amazing self-control and can turn down any temptation without blinking an eye. Future You will always order the healthiest thing on the fast-food menu.


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So if Future You is so great, who is this “Future You”?It is the person you think you will become. Future You is the person you imagine when you wonder if you should clean the house today or leave it to Future You. Future You is the person who will be much more enthusiastic about exercising than you are right now. Future You is the person who will order the healthiest item on the fast-food menu, so that present You can enjoy the Big-Mac. Future You always has more time, more energy, and more willpower than present you. Future You is awesome! At least that’s what we tell ourselves.

This is one of the most predictable mental errors humans make: We think about our future selves like different people. We often idealize them, expecting our future selves to do what our present selves cannot manage. We fail to realize that they will actually have the exact same thoughts and feelings as our present selves. When we see our future selves, we always imagine them as somebody better than us.

Remember the McDonald’s results we talked about earlier? Does Future You have something to do with that? Absolutely. What researchers found is that people would see the new menu and tell themselves, “That’s great! Starting next time I will get salads and eat more healthy. But today I want one last Big Mac.” The translation of that is “Future Me is going to be so much healthier and wise. Future Me will have more self-control and will choose the healthy option.” But it never happened. Sales of salads never increased but sales of Big Macs and french fries did. The great lie we tell ourselves is that “Future Me” will be better. But Future You isn’t better. Future You is the exact same as Present You. The choice you make today is almost certain to be the choice you will make tomorrow.

So the next time you feel like procrastinating a diet, exercise, cleaning, or anything else that needs to be done, remember that you cannot count on Future You to come through. If anything is going to happen it is up to “Present You” to make it happen.

Now go out and make it happen!

Kris

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