The Power of Short Term Thinking

I saw a  TikTok video the other day that made me both giggle and also ponder life; those are the best am I right? I can no longer find it (ugh), but I'll do my best to describe it in all its glory: Picture a man sitting in his car sipping on a Starbucks(?) iced coffee looking into the camera exasperated but smirking. He talks into the camera describing his dilemma as thus:

We are living in a very confusing time where we don't know which diametrically opposed but equally plausible scenario is currently happening i.e."Is the world about to end or should I be preparing for hot girl summer?"

He needs to know the answer to this question, because it's virtually impossible to live in a way that honors both accompanying mindsets. It's funny because it's so relatable. This predicament clearly resonated, as hundreds sounded off in the comments with variations on the declaration: "I refuse to spend my last days going to the gym and drinking green juice!!"

What would you do if you thought the world was about to end? And how would that differ from how you're living now? I'll go first - I would probably grab a Sonic chili cheese dog (the footlong, not the 6'' duh) on the way to the airport where I would then hop on a jet to the nearest beach so I could gaze at the ocean, hopefully surrounded by friends and family, while also enjoying the largest piece of chocolate cake I could find. (Too specific?) Your last days are to be lived luxuriously with rich decadence, throwing caution (and dieting) to the wind!

That being said, if I were to "Live every day like it's your last!" I would be broke, unhealthy and perpetually jet-lagged. Maybe it's because I have a penchant for taking things a little too literally, but I never understood that phrase.

So do we have 1 day or do we have a lifetime? How would knowing change how you live your life?

Many of us have no idea how long we're going to live. However living your life like there's no tomorrow, making no plans for the future is probably not going to make for a good life. You'll surely accomplish very little and annoy the heck out of yourself and others as you're running around in full chaos mode. On the flip side, thinking you have all the time in the world could also throw your priorities out of whack. If you think you have 80 years instead of 1, you may feel inclined to let life pass you by.  

I recently watched Don't Look Up, and it made me think about how I'd live my life if I knew I only had 6 months left. Un-ironically, Jennifer Lawrence's character uses the diet app on her phone to countdown the days until her time on this earth (and her diet) ends. She seems almost relieved when she realizes that she'll never have to diet again . . .  because she'll be dead. It's morbid but dare I say, kinda funny? Would you diet if you had 6 months to live? Probably not.

Diet ends never!

Although "Live every day like it's your last!" is terrible advice IMO, I think it's a good thought exercise. Or better yet, what if you only had one week or one month? What would be really important for you to accomplish or do in that short amount of time? Maybe you'd quit your job (and your diet!) and go on an off-grid vacation with your friends and family. Awesome! That means that friends and family are more important to you than your job or how you look in a bikini. Use that information to create your resolution and prioritize your attention.

In fact "Spend more time with family and friends" is my Resolution #1. Spending at least 1 week off-grid is also one of my goals for this year. And even though dieting/losing weight has been one of my resolutions for the past 10+ years, it did not make the list this year. Why? Because in the end, I've realized that what I really care about is that I feel healthy enough to do the things I love i.e. go on long hikes, dance for hours, ski with friends, etc.

This is also not to say that quitting your job should be one of your resolutions because that's what you would do if you only had 1 week to live. When deciding on your resolutions or goals, think instead in one-year increments. What would you do if you only had one year left? How would you fill your year?  

You would probably go to that music festival you keep putting off or write that book you've been meaning to start, or maybe you'd make amends with an estranged friend or family member. Best of all, you'd probably stop worrying about dumb stuff like what Aunt Margaret said at your birthday party two years ago. (Let it goooo!) Thinking you have one year left forces you to hone in on what's really important, forget the silly stuff, and go after things now instead of later. (It also forces me to be more realistic about what I can accomplish in a year.)  

Some of you may be thinking: "Okay I understand not utilizing 1 day when thinking about resolutions, but 1 year is so short! Thinking short-term in 1 week or 1 year increments will only dissuade me from long-term achievements like becoming a doctor or getting that promotion." I get it. That's why this is a thought exercise only. However! If you're completely miserable and counting down the days until "x" happens, take a hard look at whether it's actually worth it.

Will your future self thank you once you've accomplished said thing or will you be bitter towards your past self for wasting so much precious time? Is what you're working towards really what you want in the first place, and is it worth sacrificing current happiness?

I really wish I had asked myself these questions when I was going through engineering school and really at any point during my career. I've had many a friend who has said some variation of "Yeah, I'm really miserable with "x" aspect of my life, but in "y" years it will be different!" A part of me dies inside when I hear that.

Because so often when that promotion, pay raise or <insert other achievement> happens, it doesn't bring you more joy like you expected. In fact, our mind is really bad at predicting what we'll make us happy. (Thank you Dr. Laurie Santos!) Not to mention that many ambitious people find themselves climbing the wrong hill anyway when it comes to achievement.

I know it sounds corny, but I encourage you to ask yourself: "What would I do if I only had 1 year?" when identifying your resolutions or when you're presented with a future opportunity or invite. You might be surprised by the answer. Hopefully it will encourage you to finally go do the thing you've been wanting/waiting to do. (And maybe it will help you be more spontaneous!  . . . something I struggle with immensely.)

Most likely once you accomplish whatever it is, you'll wish you had done it sooner. For me, this meant quitting my job, something I'd been fantasizing about for years, and living on the road. Spoiler alert: it was the best gift I've ever given myself.  And for the first time in a long time, I can confidently say that I am living 2022 as if it were my last year on this earth (with a few caveats.) I'm not living like there's no tomorrow, but I'm also not living like I have all the time in the world. (And yes I am preparing for hot girl summer.)

Dream big and bold, turn those 1-year dreams into resolutions, mantras or just post them in your space where you can see them. And if the answer to this question encourages you to change your 2022 resolutions, great! Resolutions are flexible. That's also part of the reason I just completed mine and it's ... February. Oh well! Stay tuned, as I'll be revealing those in next week's blog.

P.S. If you happen to stumble upon the video to which I'm referring, please send me a link via email or Twitter! I would love to watch it again!

Miss Berri

Miss Berri