When thinking about the landscape around managing oneself, there are two opposing ideas that I have found to be true:
1. My present self cannot be trusted to make the best choices in the present moment.
2. My present self knows what is best for my future self.
This odd dichotomy is a powerful insight if you can put it to your advantage. HBR published an article in 2012 titled, Your Problem Isn’t Motivation in which they identified one powerfully simple insight:
If you want to follow through on something, stop thinking. Or as Nike puts it, Just do it
Armed with this knowledge, there are two tricks that I employee strategically to help thwart my present self.
1. Gamification of my habits
All of the mundane habits that I talk myself out of on a regular basis such as drinking water, taking my multi-vitamins, making my bed or stretching are all things that ideally I would not like to think about, but just do them on a regular basis. The trick I’ve found that works best is gamification (the application of typical elements of game playing e.g. Point scoring, competition with others).
Tracking stats and earning points for brushing and flossing, making my bed etc. is oddly enough the only prodding I need to build these habits into my daily routine. I’d recommend an app called Productive, although there are several others available out there.