Eliminating Contradictions

Published on Aug 11, 2020

What are three things you habitually do that contradict who you want to be? Now, eliminate them. Benjamin Hardy recommends doing this exercise in order to be truer to your desired future self.

It’s an interesting and effective way of identifying ways to improve yourself. You could try to come up with a new idea about something you should do. But that might be something you’ve seen someone else do, which might not really work for you. Maybe you’ve heard about someone doing a three-mile run every morning and decide to try to do that. But that might not work for you for any number of reasons. It might just be too big of a leap from where you are right now.

But if you start with the things you are already doing and commit to simply stop doing them, or to replace them with something else, you are starting with actions that are rooted in your environment. The new ideas will be rooted in your life, but they will be coming from your future self, the better version of yourself who you are trying to be true to. These ideas will likely be more realistic.

For example, I am currently eating a protein bar as a snack every afternoon. I don’t really need any snack in the afternoon, and certainly not a high-calorie protein bar. I have felt a nagging sense of guilt about this, but I haven’t done anything to resolve this problem. But when I set out to identify contradictions between my current actions and my desired future, this was the first thing that jumped out. It’s an obvious contradiction between the level of fitness I desire and what I actually do every day. Since I know why I do this unhealthy action (it tastes good, I want to break up the monotony of a day in front of the computer), it’s easy to find a substitute for when I have the impulse. I can instead do a little exercise, or have a healthier, lighter snack. I know the context, I know the motivations, so I can easily come up with a better substitute.

This exercise is powerful because it starts with a vision of your future self, what you really want, then brings you into your present to identify a concrete next step to take. It helps you get out of your own way and make real, tangible progress towards your desired future.