Sacrifice your current self for your future self
This goes against the most quoted life advice sentence on the internet right now: “live in the moment”. I’ll preface this by saying this isn’t bad advice at all, it just needs elaboration. There’s nothing wrong with trying to reduce the amount of time you dwell on the past and are anxious about the future. I’m a huge advocate for mindfulness and meditation practice, which, in essence, trains your brain to be more aware of your present experience. This allows you to “live in the moment” a little better, and make more conscious decisions, decisions that affect you and the future you. There’s a “you” right here and now, plus there’s an extension of that “you” that stretches across time that will be built by the sacrifices made by the “now” you.
Every action and decision you’ve made in the past has literally (in combination with other factors) brought you to precisely where you are at right now. This couldn’t be more clear. We see this in our lives constantly. There’s a reason why it feels so good when “hard work pays off”. The pain and sweat and daily grind don’t seem so bad in hindsight when you’re now better off than you would’ve been had you not sacrificed the old you for the current you. You might ask: how will I enjoy my life if all I focus on is working for the future? Then, you might also want to ask yourself: how fulfilling would my life be if I never worked, hence, never accomplished, and lived only for moment to moment pleasure? Therein lies the implication for balance; although if I was held at gunpoint and forced to choose to live by one of those extremes, I’d opt for the former. Before analyzing both sides of the coin, I’d like to touch more on the “future extended you” concept.
As previously stated, you are here in this moment, while the you that is here in this moment also extends into the future, since what you do now sets up the path for what will become of you. It’s also important to keep in mind that you don’t only affect you, no matter how alone you feel you are. Just as you were, in large part, influenced and molded by the people you’ve come into contact with, including their actions and their ideas… in that same exact way you also leave an impression on those who come into contact with you and/or your productions (ideas, words, emotions). This doesn’t happen just now, it happens now and for the rest of your life. This butterfly/trickle effect can go anywhere, and depends on everybody within the interconnected chaotic web we’re all in together, which is a good chunk of people. In other words, what you do now not only affects you now, but you in the future, and the people around you, plus the people around them, and so on.
Again, your influence rarely stays with just you. It also reaches those around you, at least to some extent. Your future children will be influenced by the future you that you’ve set up today, and their children by them, just as you were by those who raised you. Why is it that some families can seem to pass anger, respect, or addictive behaviors down their lineage? Also, consider the fact that some full grown adults never shed some of their childhood issues, and even carry it with them into parenthood. Additionally, maybe this even stretches out to people at work or school, or maybe even your community. You have no idea to what extent your actions and the type of person you create out of yourself will effect the outcome of existence.
With this daunting concept in mind, what ideal do you hold for your future self now, and what will it take to get there? What will you need to let go of to get there? What sacrifices will need to be made? When reaching for a goal (assuming the goal is “better”or else why would you reach for it), obviously certain things need to get done for you to get there. Or in other words, something needs to change, which also implies that something needs to go. Parts of you that don’t serve your future ideal literally need to die in order to make room for growth, or else they will keep weighing you down and pulling you backwards, and there won’t be any room for the new you to fill in. I can give you examples of those pieces of you that need to go, but you know better than anybody what that means to you.
None of this means to never be happy with yourself. Always aim to be completely satisfied with your development. In order to be satisfied with your development, you need to set realistic expectations for yourself and then meet those expectations. Not to say failure won’t happen. It needs to, it’s part of the path. Clear out the bad, make room for the good. Plain and simple. Sacrifice your current self for your future self’s sake.
Each and every one of us is dying everyday, getting closer to that final moment. The only way to prove you’re not dying is to grow. The only way to grow is to sacrifice.