Every day, we make decisions that have good or bad consequences for our future selves. (Can I skip flossing just this one time?) Daniel Goldstein makes tools that help us imagine ourselves over time, so that we make smart choices for Future Us.
We all struggle with giving in to immediate gratification and making decisions that are good for the long term.
Microsoft Principal Researcher Daniel Goldstein spoke about this tension in an excellent TED talk, "The Battle Between Your Present And Future Self," which he gave in November 2011.
Oftentimes, he says, we'll try and use "commitment devices," or make a contract with ourselves while we're rational to stop ourselves from giving in to temptation later.
"It's an unequal battle between the present self and the future self. I mean, let's face it, the present self is present. It's in control. It's in power right now. It has these strong, heroic arms that can lift doughnuts into your mouth. And the future self is not even around. It's off in the future. It's weak. It doesn't even have a lawyer present. There's nobody to stick up for the future self. And so the present self can trounce all over its dreams."
Listen to this wonderful talk here
[youtube height=”500″ width=”800″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1Z_oufuQg4[/youtube]
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