The Idea That’s Changed My Life

We’re all living in uncertainties right now, one way or another. We’re all unsure about the pandemic, our employment, our health, our relationships with those we love… the list continues as our anxiety grows.

Over the past few years, I had done my fair share of reflection and responsibility ownership through countless therapy, running, and meditation sessions. I‘ve had a lot of time to talk, think, and sit on my own thoughts with each of these sessions. Over time I created this idea to separate the idea of selves, specifically by following these three shifts in my mindset that inevitably changed my life:

Thank your past ➡️ Own your present ➡️ Prep for the future

The core idea of this is to separate your selves. Who you were yesterday is not the person who you are today, and the version of you today will be different from the person you will be in the future. There is a responsibility to acknowledge all parts of your selves:

Thank your past. Sure, you are who you are because your friends and family’s support, but it’s also because of your privilege, your luck, and of course your own hard work along the way. Before you work on your future, it’s important to show gratitude and acknowledge all the work and accomplishments from your past self for putting you where you’re at today.

Own your present. Now that you’ve shown gratitude and are mindful about your past, it’s time to let it go and move on. Owning your present means taking full responsibility and accepting your present self. Instead of blaming your current decision on your past, shift that responsibility, power, and focus to what you can do right now. You’re doing X because of Y in the past (or worse, that Y had happened to you), you’re doing X because you’re actively choosing to do so right now.

Out of the three shifts in mindset, this is the by far the most difficult one to shift into — one that I’m continuously working on. The core idea is to not give yourself an out and to believe you’re not already holding the keys to living your life. If you’re slacking off, realize that it’s your choice, right now, that you’re deciding to slack off. If you’re staying up late when you should be going to bed, realize that you’re actively deciding to do this — no one else is forcing you not to go to bed. So when you’re tired tomorrow, you know that it was on you and no one else.

Instead of relying on the unpredictable winds to carry you through (and hope that it takes you to the right direction), owning your present empowers you to be the captain of your own ship. There is a lot more to this I can go into, so I might create a separate post specifically on this in the future.

Prep for your future. Your present is going to be tomorrow’s past, so in order to thank you past tomorrow you have to not only own your present, but also prep for your tomorrow, today. The good thing is this isn’t as hard as it sounds! A good example is to cook with the slow cooker. You know you want a wonderfully slow-cooked dinner tonight but it takes eight hours, so you prep ahead of time in the morning. This shift is basically that — doing things now to so you can thank yourself later.

I apply this mindset to all areas of my life whereever I can: Add water to the Brita filter now so I can have fresh water later. Put aside money now for retirement later. Prep for next week’s meeting now (by adding notes into the invite) so future me won’t forget about the the discussion topics or action items in the future.

Now the coolest part is this — by prepping for your future now, you’ll inevitably be thanking your past later. This cycle repeats itself endlessly and over time you’ll have less burden from your past, more ownership in your present, and more outlook for your future. By focusing more on each of your selves separately, they can create a more meaningful impact to your life as a whole.

I didn’t learn about the separation of selves and these shifts in mindsets in any one book specifically, instead I was inspired by countless productivity and other self-help books in order to develop this “recipe” over time. By learning to be more grateful, accountable, and future-thinking, I became the captain of my own ship over time, instead of letting (or blaming) the wind to take me somewhere I felt I didn’t belong.

This was just an introduction to the idea of separating your selves, and I can expand more about each of these three mindset shifts in future posts. In the mean time, I invite you to ask yourself (or comment below) on the following questions to get started:

  1. How can you thank your past for getting you to where you are today?
  2. What decision can you own / what action can you take today regardless of the past?
  3. What can you do now ahead of time to set up for tomorrow’s success?

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100w100d: Everything is Everything

Day 61: Growing up, people who know me would describe me for the longest time as bitter and emo. I was extremely insecure growing up, constantly downplaying myself and settling on the negative side of things — that way I wouldn’t be as disappointed when things fall apart. And things often did.

But then something happened: I got tired of being afraid and from constantly looking down. Somewhere along the way it dawned on me that negativity is nothing but unproductive and that drama is best left in movies.

Lauryn Hill said it best in ’98: Develop a negative into a positive picture.

100w100d: 50%

Day 50: I’m officially at the halfway point of my 100 Words for 100 Days project, which was initially inspired by my friend Stephen when he was telling me about his daily writing project at the time.

It’s been taking a bit longer than I thought it would since I started back in May. But instead of being all half-empty about it, I’m actually pretty excited to keep planning ahead in order to wrap this project up by end of the year.

Keeping at precisely 100 words per post, this project is not unlike an Instagram of my daily thoughts in words.

100w100d: Habits

Day 46: I’m fascinated by how habits get started. Humans may be creatures of habit, but our minds are actually designed to always choose the easier route (to keep us safe) unless that work provides pleasure or reward.

I’ve been trying to start a gym routine for years with little success. I would go on for awhile only to stop for one reason (excuse) or another. Guilt would eventually set in and I’d begin the whole process again…

The logical step is to connect working out with a reward, though my mind is already saying “let’s just not go”.

Shut up, brain.

100w100d: High School Days

My High School Homies

Day 44: It’s been thirteen years since I graduated high school, and from time to time I still wonder how I managed to pull it off. With seven diverse subjects , all with its own daily homework assignments, projects, and demands on top of all the “optional” extracurricular activities, it’s easy to forget how much work you have to endure as a high school student.

Nowadays, I’m working full-time at a job with unpredictable hours, but in many ways it’s still easier (and more straightforward) than my life in high school. It serves as a good reminder whenever complacence slips in.

Keep going