What I do today affects my tomorrow and what I do tomorrow affects the next day. The me of today is either helping or hurting the me of tomorrow. So tying what I do now to the life my future self has to live is a basic but core thing to comprehend. Simplifying further, I end up with Growing and Dying. Healthy living works well as an example of this what I eat is either helping me be healthy or not. There is no neutral food. When trying to minimize mental clutter I find it helpful to look at my actions in a similar way.
Dying is anything that takes me away from my goal or from the person I want be. So if I want to be able to buy a new car, me spending money on non-essential things causes the goal I have to die a little.
Growing is the opposite of dying it is when you are acting like the person you want to be. It is when your short term actions are aligned with your long term values. This means I am helping my future self live the life I want them to live.
I have the mental model above and I find it effective at helping me to do the right thing, except when it doesn't. My brain seems to short circuit and either forget my values or justify many actions on a daily basis that I would define as dying actions. I know they don't help me, but I keep on doing them. So how do I do the 'growing' thing in the heat of the moment.
I have found 2 things that have helped me.
- I remove my self from the heat when possible.
- I place reminders of who I want to be. So I can feel good for being that person or I can feel bad for hurting myself (even if I won't immediately feel the pain).
What if I have two goals. Save for a car and spend time with my brother who lives in a different town. In order to get to him I need to spend money. I allow myself to have multiple goals as long as I realize the trade offs. Sure I can go to hang out with him, but that means my other goal will die for a day. So I should do other things to compensate this. Such as not eating out, except with my brother.
I know that I will never be perfect, but I also know that making excuses don't help me grow. So each day I try to move forward growing more and dying less.