How to help your future self

Friday, June 22, 2018 9:03 PM

We’ve come to the final column in this 12-part series about taking control of yourmoney and living the life of your dreams.

As you know by now, the benefits of improving your financial health can touch everyaspect of your life:

Less stress.More enjoyment.Freedom from debt.Living your dreams.More options and choices.But creating financial well-being is a long process.

Paying off your debt can take one to two years.

Saving an emergency fund can be an 18-month commitment.

Paying off a home can take 15 to 30 years.

Investing is a 25- to 40-year journey.

And, of course, you will always face choices about your money.

The enormous benefit of pursuing long-term goals has made me think about how we can accomplish them in the face of a reality where resolutions and commitments to change seldom last more than a week.

What I’m learning is that willpower – the go-to tool for most of us when we try to change – is like a muscle and quickly becomes tired and weak. Don’t we all have a track record of broken promises and failed New Year’s resolutions?

When it comes to goals that require grit, David DeSteno, a psychology professor at Northeastern University, points us in the direction of emotions, not willpower. In his new book, Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion and Pride, he shows us how we can avoid temptation and achieve success.

You can listen to a podcast interview with DeSteno at

DeSteno says, gratitude, compassion and pride are pro-social emotions that evolved to allow our ancestors to forego instant gratification and develop relationships. Both of which helped ensure our survival.

Today, we can use these emotions to develop a relationship with our future self – the one who benefits from our delayed gratification. When we view this person as a stranger, research shows that we opt for today’s pleasure over achieving long-term goals.

If we only had a time machine to visit our future self. Thanks to the app AgingBooth, we do. AgingBooth allows you to upload a photo to see what your future self may look like.

The result of meeting your future self can mean investing more for retirement, getting out for exercise, making healthy food choices and giving up habits you know are bad for you.

As you continue on your journey toward achieving financial independence for your future self, treat your current self with compassion, practice gratitude and take pride in your small successes.

Prosocial emotions may work better than willpower, shame, blame and beating yourself up. Remember, if you don’t like this kinder, gentler way of achieving your goals, you can always go back to your old habits.

To read the other columns in this series, visit

Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. www.personal