Have you ever done something you knew was a bad idea, but you did it anyway? Like devouring a pint of ice cream in one sitting, or staying up until 2 a.m. when you have to wake up at 6? Or, on the other end of the spectrum: Challenging yourself to 1,000 burpees in one day, leaving you unable to lift your arms for three days?

It’s pretty simple: It comes down to choosing the short-term—the instant gratification—over the long term.

If you know you have tendencies that prioritize the now you over the future you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s an often-recognized societal problem!

This TED talk, for example, goes into the concept of what the presenter calls “short-termism,” and argues that short-term-ism is the biggest challenge we face that essentially limits both individual and societal success.

So why is it so hard to consider the future over the now? Turns out, it might have something to do with the way our brains are genetically wired: They’re actually programmed for short-term gratification at the expense of our future selves.

This 2011 study explains that when you think about the future, your brain does something neurologically that’s actually pretty odd: It stops realizing you’re thinking about yourself and actually thinks you’re thinking about someone else!

Specifically, the part of the brain known as the medial prefrontal cortex essentially shuts off. Generally, when you’re thinking about yourself it’s firing on all cylinders, and when you’re thinking about something you don’t have anything in common with, it turns off. 

If this is true, then it makes sense then, that because your brain sees the future you as a total stranger, we don’t always treat our current selves with consideration of our future selves.

The good news is you can consciously change the way you think. 

You can learn to train your brain to make better decisions. 

You can learn to take actions that preserve the future you. 

It all starts with building better habits, one at a time. And helping you do just this is what we’re here for.

Our coaches are here to help you build healthier lifestyle habits that become automatic. 

Because when you do this—when something becomes a habit—then your default decisions become healthy ones. 

And the great part is the process of building new habits doesn’t need to be overwhelming. It doesn’t need to be an overnight overhaul of your current lifestyle. In fact, that usually backfires quickly…

Instead, habit-building can start out as small as committing to putting green vegetables on your dinner plate before anything else, starting the day with a big glass of water, or showing up at Madlab three days a week. 

It might not sound sexy or glamorous, but the small things add up over time and are what will allow you to be successful, not just today, but long term.

- Coach Emily

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