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Eventually, Diligent Immatures build the Future

People overestimate their short-term abilities but underestimate their long-term ones, imagining they cannot improve much more. But at the same time, people believe their future selves will have everything figured out and can solve their current problems and challenges. So why do we have two very conflicting imaginations?

  • Planning fallacy is the tendency in behavioral economics to underestimate the time, effort, and resources required to complete a task or reach a goal. "People overestimate their short-term abilities but underestimate their long-term ones."
  • Natural Optimism Bias is the tendency for people to overestimate the likelihood of positive outcomes and underestimate the possibility of adverse effects. This bias can lead people to be overly optimistic about their abilities or the potential success of a project or goal, which can cause them to take on more risk or be less cautious than they should be.

While these two sound like contradicting stories, these are just two sides of human's poor perception of time.

Let's say someone receives a health diagnosis that indicates they need to make significant lifestyle changes, including exercising regularly. In the short term, they overestimate their ability to make immediate progress, assuming that they will quickly see improvements in their health and fitness level. They also underestimate the effort and diligence required to sustain these changes over the long term, assuming they can make a few quick fixes and then return to their previous lifestyle. That leads to their unthinkingness about what will come next, essentially underestimating what we can eventually become. That leads to an infantile belief that their future self will somehow figure out how to make these changes. This combination of biases can lead to unrealistic expectations and poor decision-making. As a result, the person struggles to sustain their exercise routine or gives up entirely when progress is slower than expected.

No magical future ourselves will come and solve all our problems. They will never come. We simply need to be aware of the perception of time and recognize that building a better lot takes sustained effort and perseverance over the long term.

Eventually, diligent immatures build the future.

Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.

— Marcus Aurelius (121—180)