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Be kind to your older self

Be kind to your older self

You will get older. You will change and become something different than what you are now. There are good news and bad news. The good: You will probably not be as different as you imagine. The bad: You will probably not be as different as you imagine. Even after changing it is likely that you will still be struggling with the same kind of issues as currently. Not the same, hopefully, but the same type. The idea is to be kind to your older self by taking action and always striving to be better than the last year.

We like to think our future self will have more willpower and that he will be so much less stressed, he will have more money and care less about money, and he will have time to do the important things you don’t have the time or interest to do right now.

The truth is he won’t. Unless we help him, now.

Be kind to your older self

Leaving issues for your older self to fix is not a good idea. If you are currently struggling with finding the time and motivation for taking care of your health, it will not magically change one day. It only changes when you take massive action to change it.

Your older self won’t be any wiser or better off fixing problems if we don’t act now and do something to deal with our issues.

It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting. – Jerry Sternin

While you are thinking about change, don’t overestimate willpower. Rely more on systems and help from other people to create the best possible future for yourself. Get coaches, mentors, get books, take seminars and courses.

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. – Lao Tzu

Fixing anything starts with defining the problem. What small improvements can you make today to make things easier tomorrow, next month and a few years from now? What are the activities that improve the quality of your health and life in the long run?

Other valuable questions include: How can you stop making negative progress? What are the things that aren’t serving you? How can you cut them from your life?

What do you feel stress and anxiety about? Will it matter in 10 years? If not it’s not probably worth all the gray hairs. If yes, take some action now.

Use apps. I did a post a while back. The one I did not mention there was AgingBooth (available for both Android and iOs). One scientifically proven way to trick the mind into taking action we know we should take is to visualize our old self. Not so hard anymore with apps that will generate a compelling photo of yourself as old. Spend a few minutes looking at yourself as an old person before getting into anything you know is bad for you. This technique is surprisingly effective, even though it might seem childish or simplistic. For the hardcore implementation, you can have the photo developed and place it on your fridge door to remind yourself to be kind to your older self.

Put a mirror in the kitchen. A study suggests that

“The presence of a mirror in the room helps people judge themselves more objectively nd their behaviors in the same way that they judge others…consuming unhealthy food in front of a mirror enhance the self-awareness of current behavior…This leads to discomfort when one realizes that such behavior does not match with one’s ideal standards of living.”

Use smaller plates to eat smaller portions. We estimate the size of our meals with our eyes first. Using a smaller plate tricks you to serve yourself a smaller portion of food and feel more satisfied with the meal. Switching from 12 inches to 10 inches typically results in 22% fewer calories being served, as the smaller plate makes a normal serving seem more filling.

Get into the habit of walking to places. It burns calories, makes you stronger, invigorates the mind and can act as a break to the achievement mode many of us get stuck in from time to time.

Make small progress to get momentum working in your favor. And while you are accomplishing your goals, have fun, and remember the advice of Jim Rohn: “The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.”

Parting thoughts

Be kind to your older self. Don’t eat crap now only to regret it. Feel the gratitude of your older self now for all the things you are doing and will do to be healthy and fulfilled.

Don’t get bogged down by the massively huge, but how can you make progress now. Most big things can be achieved by small, incremental actions taken frequently.

Be kind to your older self. You are him, just not yet, but you will be. You have two pains you can choose:

There is the pain of discipline or there’s the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces. However, regret weighs tons. Tony Robbins

And I believe that the pain of discipline will be the gratifying and fulfilling path over hedonistic pleasures day in and day out.

So get to it. Move, eat, avoid the bad stuff, and don’t forget to relax, have fun,  and you are on your way.


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Stay well
Arttu Heinilä

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