Be Your Future Self Now with Dr. Benjamin Hardy

Sep 13, 2022

Dr. Benjamin Hardy joins us in one of the podcast's most anticipated interviews to reveal the secrets of constructing a present in alignment with the best version of our future selves. 

Dr. Hardy holds a P.h.D in Organizational Psychology; he is the author of several books on self-development and entrepreneurship, the world's leading expert on the application of the Future Self science, a husband to his wife Lauren, and a loving father of six. 

In this episode, Dr. Hardy shares bits of his personal history in an original way; he starts from his current self, the one several years ago he saw as an ideal future self, and goes backward, explaining the situations and decisions that led him to where he is now. 

We talk about some lessons we can learn from his latest book, "Be your future self now," and explore the multiple applications the book offers to improve our day-to-day life. Dr. Hardy explains the critical role "forcing functions" have in our lives, the 80/20 rule applied to our goals, and how our future dictates our present. 

Dr. Hardy also shares some details from his next book, "10X is easier than 2X," we explore the power of refining and augmenting end goals to modify and make our present better, and much more. 

Some Questions I Ask:

  • As we start, please tell the audience about your story and how you got here to do what you're doing (3:23)
  • As you think about your past, what's another time that really sticks out to you, where you felt like your future really drove your present? (14:09)

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • What are the forcing functions, and how do they push us forward (11:18)
  • What are the things that hold us back from being our future selves (19:32)
  • What is a lesser goal, and why do we pursue them (22:01)
  • How does the 80/20 rule apply to our goals (25:20)
  • What happens when we make our end goal bigger (31:43)
  • All progress starts with a truth (40:47)

Resources:

Connect with Dr. Hardy:

Let's Connect!

Transcript 

Clint Hoopes: Sometimes I think we get so focused on even timeframes — like we'll say, “Someday, I'll do X. Someday I'll do that thing that I want to do.” That's what I love about once you get to a different level of commitment, instead of just saying “someday,” you're saying, “I'm doing it.”

Clint Hoopes: Welcome to the Unrivaled Man podcast. I truly am so grateful to have you here today. You are here on a wonderful day. I have an amazing guest today. His name is Dr. Benjamin Hardy. I'm going to give you a little bit of his bio, and I'm going to tell you a bit more about him. Dr. Benjamin Hardy is an organizational psychologist, an author, and the world's leading expert on the application of the future self-science. His books have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. And his blogs have been read by hundreds of millions. He and his wife, Lauren, are the parents of six kids and they live in Orlando, Florida. Ben is a truly amazing man. I am currently a member of Ben's Platinum Group in his Accelerated Momentum Program. It is an amazing thing, I joined this program at the beginning of the year because I was wanting to take part of my life to another level. And I'm telling you, I've read things by Ben for quite some time, and when he started offering a chance to be able to work with him and a very small group of people, and just working on improving ourselves, just really helping to become our future selves; I jumped at the opportunity earlier this year. And I can tell you, it's been transformational for me in my life. I'm so grateful that we have been here today because some of the things that he has helped me in my life have not only made me a better businessman and helped me in that side of my world, but it has helped me be a better husband, a better father, and just a better person in general — all by helping me get clear on who I really want to be. Without further ado, here is my interview with Dr. Benjamin Hardy. 

Clint Hoopes: Ben, we're on. Welcome to the Unrivaled Man podcast. Thanks for joining me.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Clint, you are awesome. I like hanging out with you. I love talking to you. This is going to be cool. 

Clint Hoopes: Well, thank you, I appreciate it. Well, like I said in the introduction, we've known each other for a little while now. It's been so much fun over the first part of this year to be able to just really go deep with you and your Platinum Group. And honestly, it's been a lot of fun. So, on the podcast, people have already heard a lot of your influence, so I'm excited to have you on here for everyone. 

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Perfect. I'm all for it. 

Clint Hoopes: Well, Ben, as we get started today if you wouldn't mind, as we start, let's just tell the audience a little bit about your story, how you got here to do what you're doing.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: I'm going to do it in the reverse order that most people do it. So, there's a great quote, and I don't usually do this, but there's a great quote from Steve Jobs. He said, “You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect the dots looking back.” One thing that I'm doing in a book I'm writing right now is I'm having people go from where they are now and looking at their previous growth stages from here. So, I'll just tell my story backward from where I'm at right now and that might be a little interesting. It might also not work. It might not work to do it in verbal format, but I'm just going to try it. So, who I am right now is I'm a husband and father of six kids. My kids are my older three and we did adopt them in our last chapter. But we adopted them, it's been like four years, from the foster system. They are 11, 13, and 15. And then we got two three-old twins that turn four soon. And then we got a one-year-old boy that turns too soon. So, actually, all of our kids pretty much have birthdays on the second half of the year. We live here in Orlando, Florida. I write books on self-development and also entrepreneurship. And that's pretty much who I am. I just do more and more of that. I'm always intrigued by, I guess I will say since we already talked about, this book right here, Be Your Future Self Now. I'm interested in how to pretty much live the life you really want and how to do that powerfully. So, those are some of the ideas I write about. In terms of how I got here, in the last chapter of my life, I was doing my PhD in Organizational Psychology, I was doing that at Clemson University, and that was from 2014 to 2019. And when I got to Clemson, when I first got there, I was not an entrepreneur, but I was very interested in entrepreneurship. So, I actually did research. When you do a PhD program, what happens is you sign up to work with someone who's an extreme expert in a topic that's interesting to you. There was someone who was at Clemson, who was one of the top researchers in the world on psychological courage. She has been studying courage — like all the mechanics of courage — for decades. So, I wanted to work with her and write about entrepreneurial courage. So, I did my master's thesis on that, studied the difference between wannabe entrepreneurs and real entrepreneurs. And then I ended up doing my dissertation on a deep dive subject called transformational leadership theory. And when we first got to Clemson, that was kind of the kickoff for me to finally start working towards my future self as a professional author. It took several years. It actually took like three and a half years to grow a massive audience and get a professional book deal and stuff like that. 

Clint Hoopes: I just love that you did so much of that, just because I know a little bit more of your story, you did so much of that, and building your business and building your audience while you were doing your PhD.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Well, the thing is, for me, the PhD was kind of like a part-time job. But if I woke up early, I could take online courses, I could write blog posts, I could pick the brains of authors. And it really doesn't take that long. I'd write one blog post four times a week — that’s like two hours in the morning. So, I would just procrastinate my classwork, and in my classes, I was not a very great student. I was learning but I put my future self way before my current self. So, there are so many aspects to my story, it's actually a little clunky trying to go backward now that I'm doing it. So, I'll just probably stop there. But if there are any aspects of what you know about me that you think would be useful to the audience, I'm happy to share or we can just go whatever direction you want to go, Clint, seriously.

Clint Hoopes: One of the things I think is fun when you talk about, from your story, because I think I just saw recently that you and your wife just had an anniversary, right?

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Literally, yesterday. Yesterday was our 10-year anniversary. 

Clint Hoopes: And that's what I love about what's so crazy about your story. I also have six kids, but I've been married a little longer than you have, and we got them all one at a time. And I just think about that story and about how we have here on the show so many of our listeners are fathers, husbands, business owners, and business leaders. And I think about how you got thrown into that world so quickly. I mean, you went from no kids, just you and your wife, to three kids so quickly, and yet still managed to do all of these other things that your future self was going to accomplish and you started doing it. And I know that that is something that would be I think something the audience would really enjoy to hear is a little bit more about how you got through that because so many of people right now are probably listening, saying, “Man, I'm in the middle of it with life, with kids, how do I go and accomplish this great dream that I have?”

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: So, one of the downsides of starting the story with your current self versus where you were and all the crazy trauma and crazy things that you went through to get here is it doesn't paint the best picture. But yeah, I guess what I will say is two things. One is I did grow up in Salt Lake City, Utah; parents got divorced when I was 11, both of them went radically different ways. And very interesting, my dad became an extreme drug addict. And it was just an interesting time, I had zero stability. Luckily, I was able to graduate high school, ended up serving a two-year church mission, which was transformational, and then really decided on that experience that I wanted to write books and study psychology. So, for the first four years, I got home from that experience in 2010. The first three and a half years were really to learn psychology, get a bachelor's, learn how to actually like be a student because I barely graduated high school. But once we got into the PhD program and it took a few attempts to do that because I got rejected a lot. But we were trying to get pregnant, my wife and I. We wanted to have a family, we wanted to have kids, that was something that was super important. My wife had actually been married before she met me. She got married really young and she ended up being sadly in a really abusive marriage for three years, and then she got out of that situation locally. And then she ended up traveling the world trying to reinvent herself and then she ended up actually doing a church mission as well. 

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: So, I met her right when she got home from that, and she was ready to start having kids, but it just didn't happen. So, when we got to Clemson, we signed up to be foster parents and we just got these three siblings. And in terms of how I handled that while trying to do a PhD while also waking up at five in the morning so I could try to grow my writing career. I actually gave a TED talk on this. But one thing that's really interesting is that I don't feel like I could have succeeded without those kids. It's kind of a reverse way of looking at it. I really am believing more and more that they are my teacher more than I'm their teacher; they highlight all of my weaknesses. Even when I think I have outgrown something, boom, I realize I have not outgrown this. And they also give me the traction. I feel like once we got those kids, I felt this massive weight of responsibility that I really need to grow up, show up, and figure stuff out. So, they, without even knowing it, lit a lot of fires under me and they forced me and my wife to grow up really fast in a lot of different dimensions. We've had them now for seven or eight years. But now they're like teenagers and we're like, “We’ve got to figure this out fast.” Because not only are they teenagers, but they also do come with other challenges. So, I see myself as the ultimate beneficiary in the relationship, I see them as the teacher. Obviously, I still have plenty I can guide, help, and support. I feel like I've just been massively blessed, honestly, and supported through it. You can drill down in any direction, I'm just providing some thoughts. I really don't know how I got through it. I'm serious. It was overwhelming — a lot of depressing moments.

Clint Hoopes: Well, do you know what I think of is, a lot of times, we talk about two different things that I know a lot of times I've heard you talk about; one is forcing functions — things that happen in our lives that not necessarily back us into a corner, but they're things that really start making us change.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Having the three kids was a massive forcing function for me — massive. Just so everyone knows, a forcing function is any situational factor that pushes you in a specific direction. A deadline could be a forcing function for really getting the job done. So, there are forcing functions. But that one was big, where it's like, “Oh, I now have these three kids. I don't have any more time.” If I didn't have them, I could have easily justified coming home and working at night or just sitting in watching TV, but it's like no, I come home and the house is a mess, my wife's pulling her hair out and these kids are fighting and stuff like that. I guess I can only work on this job thing at 5 am because when I come home, my wife freakin’ needs me, and I’ve got to actually get home fast. So, it changes everything. It was intense, but a lot of meaning, a lot of purpose, and a lot of prayer. It's just that a lot of things that help you through it. And certainly, when we got to Clemson in 2014 and when we left, we actually moved to Florida in 2018, but I finished my PhD in 2019. Totally different shoes. I was actually literally making $12,000 a year when we got to Clemson because I was a graduate research assistant. And when you start doing a PhD program, you get paid almost no money; you're pretty much just working so that you don't have to pay for tuition. They'll give you like $1000 a year, they waive your tuition. And after my first year, I made the leap where I was like, “I'd rather pay my own tuition and try to build my own writing career, my business,” because I valued my time too much. So, made that leap and just really went for it and took a totally different path than the other PhD students.

Clint Hoopes: So, once again, your new book is Be Your Future Self Now. And I love, in your story, just so many different parts where you had these little pivotal moments in your life where you decided just that. You may not have had that exact language at the time. But that's what you were doing, essentially, is determining, “Hey, if I want to be my future self, I might as well do it now. I don't need to do it the same way everyone else has done it and make that happen.” In the book, I love one of your chapters, it says “Your future drives your present.” So, as you think about your past, what's another time that really sticks out to you, where you felt like your future really drove your present?

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: So, I actually believe that's true in all situations, people just often don't look at it through that lens. Let me give an example. Often we think that the past is actually dictating who we are. Certainly, our view of our past and our experiences and our culture, our friends, etc, can influence the expectations, standards, or goals that we have. But at the end of the day, it's the goals that we have that force us forward. Even if, in a lot of ways, your goal is just simply to get to work so that you can pay the bills — that's the thing driving you. You're on the hamster wheel if that's the case. But one good example was me as a young man. When my parents got divorced at age 11, I actually, even at that point, thought I wanted to go serve that church mission. But we stopped going to church, we stopped really practicing it for years, but it was still this idea in my mind. So, how I look at it is Viktor Frankl. Viktor Frankl wrote the book “Man's Search for Meaning”. And one of the things he talks about in that book is that he pretty much says, “When you have a Why to live for, you can bear almost any How.” What he means by that, and he breaks it down a lot in the book. And that book is really about people who survived the Nazi concentration camps; the Jewish people who are inmates and had to go through the Holocaust. He was one of those people, and he was also a psychologist in there helping people to have hope and stuff like that. And he ended up surviving and wrote about his experience and it's called “Man's Search for Meaning”. But one of the things that he talks about is that he basically says that if you don't have a purpose for your future, your present has no meaning. And if your present has no meaning, and you're not really working towards something specific that gives your life purpose and meaning, then as a person, you're kind of falling apart. He says, “You lose your spiritual hold.” He found that when people lost hope in their future in the concentration camps, just the ridiculousness of the situation, also being starved to death; it just became too unbearable and they, ultimately, ended up dying very quickly, and he could predict it. 

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: The only reason I shared that is, psychologically — and there's a lot of research now to back this up and on hope and things like that, another topic, which, if we want to, we could go into them — we are all determined or driven by the future that we most believe in, whether that's a hopeful future or a non-hopeful future. If you've got a pessimistic view of the future, that's going to definitely impact who you're being right now. So, for me, as that young man, 13-14, going through high school, because I had that view in my future — you could call it a goal, and that's the word that Viktor Frankl used — of getting on that mission. Even though there were times when I was pretty sure I wasn't going to go, it was still this kind of goal. And because it was kind of a goal, it helped me navigate. I knew, for example, that if I wanted to go on that mission, and I might change my mind, but I knew if I wanted to go, I'd probably have to graduate high school because from what I understood, you needed to be a high school graduate to go on those kinds of things. So, because that was a goal, I'm like, “Okay, well, I'll keep going to school, at least the bare minimum to graduate.” So, that's an example of the goal shapes the process. I also have maintained at least some degree of the standards just because I knew that there were standards, etc, to go on those things. So, the reason I share that one, and I could share any episode of my life, really, but Frankl says, “If you don't have a goal or a purpose that's giving you direction or that you're striving for, you're gonna kind of fall apart and the situation will overwhelm you.” And my situation certainly was overwhelming. I had no stability, things were pretty rough, pretty chaotic. But I had some North Star that allowed me, to some degree, navigate it. And you could apply that same situation to the next chapter — like me, when I get home from that experience, trying to get into like a various college or trying to get into grad school, or once I get into grad school, trying to become a professional author, or when we're trying to adopt our kids, or now in my situation, whatever goals I'm pursuing now. We're always being driven by what we're most committed to.

Clint Hoopes: I like what you just said: “We're being driven by what we're most committed to.” Because what happens is Sometimes I think we get so focused on even timeframes — like we'll say, “Someday, I'll do X. Someday I'll do that thing that I want to do.” That's what I love about once you get to a different level of commitment, instead of just saying “someday,” you're saying, “I'm doing it.” Often you talk about 98% commitment to 100% commitment. 

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: If you're still waiting, then you're not committed. What you're committed to is whatever you're now doing. You can know what you're committed to by observing your behavior. So, obviously, we were both committed to having this conversation because here we are; the proof is in the pudding. And if anyone's listening to this, then you are committed to listening to it. So, you can know what you're committed to by watching what you do. And the truth is that there's a lot of things we want that we never quite get committed to. We may have wanted to start that business or write that book, or maybe we wanted to be at our kids’ games but we never actually made it a commitment, we never actually made it a non-negotiable. It was just something we wanted, but ultimately, we were committed to something else as evidenced by what we did. The only way to actually “be your future self now” is to get committed to that, to make that who you are, and then to let go of the things that are in direct contradiction to it. One really good way of looking at this, and this is how I see it, is just Identity. Identity is who you are as a person, or it's at least what you're most committed to as a person. The only way to change what you're committed to is to simultaneously change your identity. You change who you are, how you show up, what you believe in, what you care about. And you prove that by actually making it who you are and stopping the things that are opposite of that.

Clint Hoopes: I love the stopping part of it. I know that sometimes at the beginning of the year, you'll hear different people talk about New Year's resolutions and some people will talk about doing “stop doing” list, that kind of a thing. That's not a super new idea of saying, “Hey, we’ve got to stop doing some things.” But when you talk about stop doing things, it's a different level. I even talked about on the podcast back in the day, finding some of these bad habits you want to stop doing. But there wasn't a real purpose, it wasn't driven by a purpose in the filter that you were determining what to stop doing was more generic when people talk about it. But take us through that a little bit further about the elimination of things to get you that future-self filter.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: I'll share with you two quotes to start. One is my favourite quote, which comes from Robert Brault, and he says, “We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.” So, lesser goals are anything that is easy at the moment but is ultimately taking you away from what you really want. So, if I want to be focused at work, I'm trying to write my book, but I keep getting on Facebook. That's some lesser goal. So, we're kept from our goal, not by obstacles, but by a clear path to lesser goals. And those lesser goals could be friends, honestly; they could be hobbies, bad habits; they could be your job. Your jobs become a lesser goal but you're just holding on to it because it's convenient to do and it's got a clear path. Going towards your big goal might not have quite a clear path; you might have to get onto 500 pathways to finally figure out how to get there. 

Clint Hoopes: Yeah, clear path feels more secure in some way.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: How I look at it is the lesser goals are your current self, whereas what you really want is your future self. That takes committing and what it means when you commit is that you let go of the things that are stopping you from getting that, you get rid of those lesser goals. So, there's a second quote that is one of my favorite quotes as well — it's basically, “Perfection is not when there's nothing left to add but when there's nothing left to take away.” So, when you want to go really big in some direction, you can't go surface level, you've got to actually commit to it to the point where you stop doing the 50 other things you're doing and actually say, “No, this is what I'm serious about. This is who I am. This is where I'm going.” I'll go into this because I think it'd be useful and I know you know the framework very well, but right now I'm writing a book called “10x is Easier Than 2x”. And this whole book is really about, you have the choice, you can either commit to something really exciting and also something extremely transformational, which would be what I'm calling 10x. It's who you really want to be. It's also so big that it almost feels impossible. It requires a lot of faith, commitment, courage, and ultimately, you transforming to get it. There's a lot of excitement, also a lot of fear that you've got to overcome, and a lot of growth you're going to have to go through to make one of these kinds of jumps. And there are frameworks, there are ideas for how to do it if you want to go through the learning process. 

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: 2x is more of the idea that you're just going to keep doing more of what you're already doing. You don't need to change that much, you’re just plodding along. So, you're letting the past and the present dictate your strategy. Whereas 10 acts, as an idea, is more about you choose the future that you want and you let that future dictate what you do. Well, just going to the idea of elimination, one of the things that is the core concept of this book is the 80-20 principle. And the 80-20 principle is the idea that 80% of your results come from 20% of what you do. This same principle, it's not a new principle, it's actually a very perpetuates principle. 80% of money is made by 20% of people in all domains. So, it's a true idea. But the idea is if you want to go for 10x or if you want to go for some real transformation, then you've got to eliminate the 80% that's not worth your time. No matter how successful you are, no matter where you're at in life, you have that 80% that's lurking, that's just still there, that's your current habits, your current job, maybe your current roles, your hobbies, whatever it is, there's that 80% of things that isn't worthy. And you brought up earlier about the future-self filter. Your big future-self goal is a filter, and that 80% of things can't make it through that filter. So, as long as you keep those, you can't be where you want to go. You're still committed to lesser goals, you're still committed to your current self.

Clint Hoopes: I love that. That's what actually shows your commitment. That's what you were saying, right?

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: If you want to go through the filter and become your future self. If you want to be honest and have integrity to the goal, which you say you want, I heard it said recently and I like it that if you keep engaging in those lesser goals or in that 80% of things; the more you actually start to commit to a bigger future, the more it becomes obvious, the various things that are holding you back. And if you keep doing those things, not only will you have internal conflict and you'll be out of integrity with what you fully want. I like the analogy that you're watering the weeds. Whatever you put energy into is going to grow. So, if you keep putting energy into stuff that's, ultimately, holding you back, you're basically just watering the weeds. So, I think elimination has got to be at least 50% of battle because that's what you're holding on to, that's your safety zone, that's your security blanket that stopping you from just going for what you really want.

Clint Hoopes: As we talk about future self, we talked about getting your vivid vision of your future; what you want to accomplish. And whatever part of your life it is. Right here we're talking about, from a business standpoint, from being a great father, being a great husband — all those different parts of life. But it can be in anything you want to accomplish, it's worthwhile. That, in and of itself, is a revolutionary side of things for a lot of people in a goal-setting standpoint getting more clear. But I think most of us can wrap our head around that part — like getting clear, “Okay, yes, I can see myself. I can see what that could look like or what that could feel like.” But actually executing on the side of eliminating things — that's hard for a lot of people because you said it's so comfortable. And being able to step back enough from the view of our future self to actually see what our current self is doing that's totally out of line — that is really hard. And I think that's probably one of the hardest parts for me in this process is really being critical of that 80%. That 80% I shouldn't be doing, being really critical of that has been a challenge.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: I'd say the easiest way to look at it is, it's 80% if it's not directly taking you to your future self. 80% if it's mostly maintaining who you are now. The 20%, which is the area you go all in on, you turn the 20% into your future self’s 100%. And then at some point, a big aspect to that is going to be an 80% that your future self is going to have to get rid of. But the 20% is what gives you so much energy and excitement. And it's where you want to go even if you're afraid of it. It's like it's what you ultimately want to be doing. When I was going to college, the 20% for me was all around — and I'm talking mostly in work terms right now — obviously, family, faith, and those things are in my 20%. But like in terms of my work, I really wanted to grow as a writer, I wanted to like write books, that was my future self, that was my dream. My 80% was going to school, trying to pay the bills, those were things I felt like I needed to do. And so I'm just squeezing in my dream and barely getting 20% out of it. So, if you're only spending 20% of your time on the dream, and you're spending 80% of your time on your job, then you're not going to really get there. And the 80% is many, many things. It is also your views of the world. You’ve got to educate yourself out of certain views so that you can actually start living in higher views. The 80% is so many things, but the goal is that you start spending more and more high-value time where you want to focus. I really liked the quote from Jim Collins, where he said, “If you have more than three priorities, you have none.” And another great book on that subject is essentialism, just the idea of you’ve got to define what's essential to both your current self and your future self; you’ve got to actually know what is worth your time and what you value. Because if you don't, then you're just going to be swayed by all the polls of the present. And this is actually one of the biggest threats to your future self and there's a lot of research on this. There's even a TED Talk called “The battle between your present and your future self.” Great TED Talk. By the way, another great TED Talk on the subject is called “the psychology of your future self.” But what all the research on this subject shows is that if you're not clear and connected emotionally to your future self, meaning you actually care about your future self enough to make investments towards them, whether those are going to the gym, reading a good book, and learning a skill — whatever it is, if you don't care about your future self, you've got no rudder, you've got no direction in the present. So, there's a great quote on this, it says, “The bigger your vision, the better your decisions.” There's another quote from Dan Sullivan, he said, “The only way to make your present better is by making your future bigger.”

Clint Hoopes: I love that quote you just shared about the only way to make your present better is by making your future bigger. I love how you've talked about that often. Back in school, I think about how they used to talk about when you have a process and process improvement; they would say, “The best way to find your bottleneck in a process is by speeding up the process, almost overload the process, and then you're going to find the bottleneck.” So then you can fix the bottleneck. I've always loved that. So, you find the bottleneck by speeding up the process. Then once you find the bottleneck, you eliminate it, speed up the process again. And then you'll find the next bottleneck and you eliminate it. So, you know where to improve and to go. So, I just thought of that just now that as we make our future bigger, we're almost starting to do that very thing, “Okay, well, let's go from the 2x to the 10x. Let's make it even bigger.” And now it's almost like we're putting all that effort into it, and now we can find the bottleneck, so to speak, which I think is that 80%.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: The bottleneck is where you’ve got to actually put the energy and attention so that you can go 10x. And the problem is that all your energy and resources are still focused on the 80% not enough getting to the bottleneck.

Clint Hoopes: You're right, because if you're focusing so much on the other stuff that you're never even going to get to the point that you can have that laser focus and actually find that real. I like that.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: The bottleneck, to me, is the thing that's going to get you there; it's within that 20%. So, you’ve got to really solve that at a big level. But if you're only putting barely 20% of your time, energy, resources, or effort into it, you're not solving the bottleneck. This is why I like the whole quote, like, what's the one thing that if solved, makes everything else irrelevant? That one thing is the bottleneck, which is that 20% that you’ve got to go all in on. And if you don't, your efforts are minimal. You'll be spinning your wheels, focus on the 80% that's only getting you 20% of your result. You’re grinding away and you're just making marginal gains. So, you're right, I like you saying, “You overload the system or speed up the system to identify the bottleneck.” Another way of doing it is just simply making the goal so big that it filters out almost all of the current things you're doing. Because if you make any goal in any direction — call it spiritual, call it in your work, whatever it is, in a specific direction — if you make the goal really, really high, what the goal is, the goal is a filter. And the higher you take the goals, the finer the filter gets, where not very much can go through. So, the bigger you make the goal, the more it makes obvious that things at some level are not going to be able to keep coming up. As an example, let's just say the goal is maybe it's to get in shape. But then you elevate it to, “No, I'm going to run a marathon. No, I'm going to do an Ironman. No, I'm going to be the top Ironman person in the world.” You just keep making the goal bigger and bigger. A lot of the bad habits start to be impossible, completely contradictory to the goal, where it's like, “Okay, I can't keep eating pizza four times a week, that doesn't fit the filter.” So, the point of making the goal so high is that it really puts a line in the sand of, like, 80% is really obvious, you can't keep going at it. Unless you just want to stay committed to your current self, if that's what you want, it's okay. You don't have to count to me, you don't have to count to Clint, and I don't have to account to Clint. I get to choose my life, I get to choose my standards, I get to choose my own personal integrity. It's between me and me, and it has nothing to do with anyone else. So, there is no external competition and there's no needing to answer to anyone else. You have to choose who you're going to be and how you're going to live. No one else can do that.

Clint Hoopes: I love how you said, basically, it's your personal integrity, is who you truly want to be. And when you determine what that is for you, then you can feel at peace about that, you can feel great about that. And it helps you have your own filter of what decisions you're going to make that are going to get you there. So, I like that. 

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: I'll say it in the simplest way. I know that we all choose our priorities. And then we choose our standards within those priorities. So, I'll give my cousin as an example. I was recently back in Utah, visiting my dad, and my cousin lives at my dad's and he plays World of Warcraft, which is an online video game, pretty much all day, which is fine, I used to play World of Warcraft all day. He chooses his priorities, but he also chooses his standard within those priorities. So, he is one of the top people in the game. And it's an online game, and we're talking about it, and he was telling me that he left his group within the game since it's an online game, they call it a guild — it’s the group you’re in. He's telling me about how he left his guild because it didn't meet his standards —  I’ll use the language like — he wanted to be raiding and getting these items and stuff. He wanted to do it at a really high level, and the group he was in just wasn't up to his standards, at the standard he wanted to play. So, he chooses his priority — in other words, World of Warcraft — but he also chooses his standard within that, and that's what we all do. My financial advisor, as an example, huge priority for him is lifestyle and travel. There was a point when it was no longer within his standard to fly in the back of the plane. He elevated his standard where it's like, “I'm only flying first class.” At this point now he's flying private half the time, and the standard that he's one wanting to create for himself is to own his own jet. That's his priority and his own standards and they have nothing to do with me and I have no judgement of him for the priorities or standards he chooses. But they may not be the priorities or standards I choose, it may not be a priority for me to have a plane or to fly first class, it may be, but I choose my own standards. And that's ultimately what makes you who you are as a person, is deciding what you prioritize, and then how high or where you land your standards within those. A lot of people have the same priority. There may be two people who play the exact same amount of golf — 30 hours a week, 20 hours a week — but one of them has a standard of being a professional golfer, whereas the other one, their standard isn't at that level. So, we all just choose what we value, what we prioritize, and where our standards are within those priorities.

Clint Hoopes: I love that. Really getting clear on which part of our life. Like we've said, we've talked a lot about work and things that way. But I think about from a family life standpoint. I think about earlier in my career, specifically, I would say things like, “I want to spend more time at home with my family,” or “I want to do things like that. I want to be more present with my kids.” And I found that my actions weren't supporting that. You start not having integrity with what you say you want and where you want. And that's when it finally starts shifting, and you actually do get clear on it and shift. It's funny how now I feel like I've done a lot better at that. I think my past self would be very proud of where I've come at this point. But from my current standpoint, now in my current state, I can see how much more I have to go and how much farther I need to go. And I love and think, “Okay, I need to up it again.” And I think that's one of the things I love about future self so much is that every step we take towards our future self gives us a chance to celebrate the gains we've had, but it also gives us a new perspective to look at so that we can, once again, go and have a different view of what our future self can be and start to shift and change, even a little bit more, the closer we get. So, I remember when we first started going through a lot of this in detail first this year, I remember I was going through some of this in detail with you and I was going through this and I was getting hung up a little bit. We were making so much progress on things and all of a sudden I'm looking at my future self and it started shifting faster than I was thinking. And I was making leaps and all of a sudden I'm like, “Oh, my goodness!” I almost feel like I was a flip-flop or something, like, “Oh, man, can I keep committed to what I'm doing?” But what I realized is that as I took steps towards my future self, it just became more and more clear.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: I think I shared with you this quote earlier today, but I like what aval Ravikant said: “It's not 10,000 hours, it's 10,000 iterations.” And when you keep learning, even a week from now, my future self in a week from now is going to have a slightly nuanced and better perspective than I have now. And hopefully, they make an iteration. The opposite would be just me charting along on the path my former self set, who was radically ignorant compared to where I'm at now. So, you're constantly tweaking and you're clarifying what really matters and you're continually adjusting your path to get to a better place. So, the tweaking, adjustments, and iterations are a sign of growing out of an old perspective. So, it's very good actually.

Clint Hoopes: I believe this is in the Be Your Future Self Now book. Like I said, I muddle together between conversations and things I read of yours, but I believe it was the example of some of the doctors that you were saying that they had one year of experience repeated 20 times, instead of 20 years of experience in some study that was done, right?

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: So, that's the example of focusing on 10,000 hours versus 10,000 iterations.

Clint Hoopes: Yes. And that's what I wanted to bring up. When I first read that, I thought, “Man, that kind of hit me right between the eyes a little bit. In what in my life have I accepted that mediocrity and just kept muddling along?” It's either eliminate it or do it in a way that's worthwhile. Actually, get the iterations in not just the hours.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: This is how I look at it is your habits or your current self, you could repeat habits for decades. There's no growth in habits, it's just you doing the same thing over and over. If you want to get better at something, you actually have to put your intentional thought toward it. Habit is you on autopilot. If I actually want to get better at a skill. It's kind of like basketball, as an example; you can play basketball for 20 years and get no better. You actually just repeating the same errors over and over again. To actually get better, you actually have to do what's called deliberate practice where you have specific goals and you're actually working on getting out of your habits and actually getting better, learning a new skill, and you're always setting a new platform or a new baseline, and hopefully, you just keep doing that. That's the whole continuously iterating. How I look at it is if your weeks look very similar, week to week, then you're just repeating the same errors over and over. You're just on autopilot. You're not actually intentionally facing your fears or facing yourself and being honest about where you're holding yourself back and making slight adjustments; you're just on repeat mode. And when that's the case, you're actually just avoiding having the hard conversations with yourself. So, you've got a lot more internal conflict, which is going to aid you a lot more than, actually, the challenge and the grit or all the things involved in learning and becoming who you want to be. It's a lot more taxing to sit dormant and to be in internal conflict.

Clint Hoopes: I'm always reminded of the quote that you've shared many times: “All progress starts by telling the truth.”

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: I'm learning that more and more every day. Today, I had to be extremely courageous and tell some truth to people that I love. And the truth can sometimes be a sword; it cuts through the fat and it sometimes forces decisions. And otherwise, you can just sit idling by and not tell the truth, but that's not going to move you forward. All progress starts by telling the truth.

Clint Hoopes: Well, Ben, thank you so much for being on here. As we come to the close here, I really want to ask you, if you could share with us, what's your top action step. We've talked a lot about a lot of great things and a lot of things that people can do to be their future self now and start changing something in their life. So, what would be your top action step for my listeners?

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: I think the easiest way to start is you really want to think about your top three priorities. I would actually say your only three priorities. Back to that Jim Collins quote, “If you have more than three priorities, you have none.” This requires you to actually sit. Because for most people, their problem is that they have too many competing goals or desires; they're too spread thin. And they're trying to do too many things even if those too many things are all just hobbies or distractions or whatnot. So, you have to ask yourself. It's a combination of getting connected to your future self but also thinking about what matters most now. Just sit and ask yourself. If there are only three areas of your life that really matter and everything else has got to go, what is it? And the great part is that those priorities change over time. In my past self, one of my priorities was to focus on school and get my PhD. That's not the priority of current me, that was past-me priorities, my future self is going to have different priorities. So, you really wanted to say, “What's the absolute most important thing right now for me to focus on, commit to, and invest in, in terms of my time, energy, effort learning?” These are the three core areas that are going to have the biggest impact on who I become in the future. And these are also relevant to what I want my life to look like in the future. You have to simplify. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. And it may take time, it takes continuous iterations. You may have a draft of an idea of what you think your priorities are, and then you change them with a little bit more reflection and honesty and maybe experience. But what are the three areas right now that if you really focused on, committed to, and went deep on, and start to eliminate the lesser goals, the 80% of things that are pulling you away from those, and you really got centred on those and set some big standards or some big targets in those areas. That's really how you start to simplify your life. And success is a lot simpler than mediocrity. Success requires simplicity. You’ve got to actually choose something and focus on it and start to let go of all the other priorities or distractions that take away. That's fundamental, and you’ve just got to start there. Sometimes you can reverse engineer those three priorities by simply saying, “Where do I want my life to be in three to five years?” And then you can isolate based on where I want to be, here are the priorities I'm going to have to focus on. You can't optimize 50 things, you can only really do deep progress in a few areas. That's the definition of going deep versus shallow.

Clint Hoopes: And I love one of the things you said at the beginning of all that, you prefaced by saying, “Hey, we’ve got to discover these two things.” But first, you said, “You’ve got to get quiet.” And I think that's one of the hardest things. It is one of the main reasons that people don't get clear on these things is they don't step away from the distractions for enough time. So, I love that. Clarity on those three. It's a big thing.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: If you don't have those three, then there's not really any area to focus for your future self.

Clint Hoopes: Exactly. Where are you going to go? How do you know what kind of future self you want to be? 

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: How do you know what to do with your time? How do you know what to do? How do you know where to focus if you don't know what your priorities are, what you actually care about, and what's going to matter most to your future self? 

Clint Hoopes: The filter really is everything. Discovering what that filter is because--

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Your identity is the filter, by the way. Your identity is the filter through which you see the world, through which you have standards, through which you choose to be committed to things, your identity is the filter through which you see the world. So, by choosing your priorities, by getting committed to those things, and by having standards, you're actually just defining the filter for yourself. Whatever you focus on expands.

Clint Hoopes: I love that. Ben, thank you. 

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Super good to be with you, Clint.

Clint Hoopes: So many words of wisdom. If you want to connect more with Ben, there are some amazing places to do that: benjaminhardy.com.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy: I say the easiest is just, honestly, you can go to benjaminhardy.com. Obviously, we’ve got a stack of books, audiobook is there if you're an audible person. Read “Be Your Future Self Now” if any of this resonates.


Clint Hoopes: I love it. Well, Ben, thank you for being here. And for all of you, now is the time to be the Unrivaled Man in your life.