The future is very sensitive and highly dependent on the present as events that might seem insignificant now can completely transform the future.
Have you ever thought what effect your today actions will have ten years from now? The fact is that most people are so much into instant gratification and have never thought about this.
Short-term pleasure has castrated people brains so they never consider how one action, one single step can impact their whole life.
One ordinary action, like to read this article. Your future would be entirely different if you weren’t here, reading this article.
This is called the Butterfly Effect.
“In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a minor change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state”.
In simple words, something that you do now like reading a book can result in changing your entire future.
The butterfly effect is the idea that the disturbance of the air by a little and insignificant butterfly has enough power to form different kind of weather patterns all over the world, like a typhoon.
By is that possible? Could a typhoon in USA be formed by a butterfly in China?
Edward Norton Lorenz is an American mathematician and meteorologist who discovered the butterfly effect. Lorenz found that the details of a hurricane like the time of formation are influenced by small factors like the flapping of the wings of a butterfly which was far away from the spot that the hurricane was created.
When he was running his weather model he used initial condition data that was rounded in a seemingly insignificant manner. Rounded data means that he used 12,51 instead of 12,5184. The result of that minor change was a completely different weather prediction.
Such a minor change in initial conditions resulted in a completely different outcome!
To understand better the butterfly effect consider the example of throwing a dice. The outcome of the dice depends on initial conditions like the direction you throw it or the thrust. A slightly different throwing results in completely different dice outcomes and paths. This makes virtually impossible to throw the dice the same way more than once.
Of course you can get the same result but the dice’s orbit would be completely different.
Butterfly Effect Movie
Recently I show a movie called “The Butterfly Effect” which perfectly achieves the illustration of the butterfly effect in real life.
The movie follows the life of a 20 year old college student named Evan Treborn. Because of several childhood traumas aggravated by short term memory losses Evan grows up having lost certain parts of his memories, in majority the most horrible ones.
Surprisingly he discovers that he can live again these lost moments using his brain. Evan manages to change these memories, by taking a different choice than the one he has taken when he really lived each situation.
This results to changing his future entirely and living a completely different life. Evan is trying to re-live these moments to set things right for him and his friends but he can’t foresee the outcome of his choices as each one of them sets up an entirely different future.
He finds himself being a college fraternity member, a prisoner as well as an amputated and helpless man. All these final outcomes were the result of a small initial difference in his approach regarding a specific situation.
Even if the movie is based on science fiction as well as unknown and poor researched topics like the Chaos Theory or time travelling it illustrates perfectly the power of choices.
A tiny choice that you take today can be the foundation of a sequence of millions of events and consequent choices that shape your future.
For instance, the choice to steal something of very little importance from a supermarket could lead to instant satisfaction for not being caught. A repetition of this action could lead to forming a regular stealing habit and after some years you turn yourself to a professional thief. Then you end up in jail.
Or, the choice of going to the gym and improving your physique could lead to improved health overtime. A repetition of this action for years would help to develop your sense of dedication, commitment and hard work. That’s a power that could be used in other areas of your life like the financial one.
After succeeding in building an impressive body you decide to build a profitable online business where you give fitness advice to beginners and help them to develop their own bodies. This could probably result to great monetary rewards.
Choices have consequences that transcend decades. MJ DeMarco, author and entrepreneur has talked about the importance of choices and the butterfly effect in his best-selling book The Millionaire Fastlane.
Choices Taken Today Are Like a Golf Club Hitting a Golf Ball
As MJ says, choices made today impact forever.
Our choices have consequences that transcend decades. This transcendence is horsepower.
Mj gives an amazing example of how choices work by relating them to a golf ball:
Think of it like a golf club striking a golf ball. When the clubface hits the ball square, the ball
goes straight and heads toward the hole. But when the clubface is rotated a fraction of one
degree, the ball’s trajectory lands far off course. At impact, the divergence is minor, but as the
ball travels further it widens and widens until the gap is so large that getting back on track is
nearly impossible. A bad choice can set your trajectory off by only one degree today, but over
years the error is magnified.
The divergence of your choices can widen as the year passes and can be either positive or negative.
So What’s the Practical Application of The Butterfly Effect?
It is the knowledge that your today actions can shape your whole future. A seemingly insignificant choice can have a remarkable effect in your future while a fractional change of that choice can give you a completely different outcome.
The consequences of your choices can last a lifetime, especially the choices you take when you are young. The older you get the less power your choices have and the less able you are to change your old choices, though it’s not impossible. Nevertheless it’s far more difficult.
MJ explains this also really well:
Think about it in terms of an asteroid that is on a collision course with Earth. When an asteroid is millions of miles out in space (representing your youthful choices) a simple one-degree change in trajectory will save the Earth from destruction.
This is the power of choices. For us older folks, the asteroid is closer to Earth (and closer to our death), which weakens the potency of our choices. A one-degree change isn’t as effective, and for the same potency, it needs to be 10 degrees.
Think well before taking a choice today because this choice can impact your entire life.
Where do you think that the choice of eating processed food and drinking fizzy drinks every day will lead you when you are 40?
Will you be financially independent on your 30’s when all you do in your 20’s is partying and getting drunk?
Will you get the job you desire if you spend every afternoon watching your favorite TV program for 3 hours?
Will you live you live your dreams if you spend your precious time in meaningless activities?
The most insignificant choices in life form your lifestyle and develop your habits. Even if you don’t realize it at this moment they play a significant role in your life.
The only thing I would like you to take from reading this article is to answer the following question each time you decide to do something:
Will these actions/activities help me achieve my goals or will my future self regret for doing it?
If the answer is no then what you were intending to do isn’t worth your time and energy. Spend it somewhere that is worth it.
Damian Pros is the owner of the growing personal development/Fitness blog DareandConquer.com
You can download his FREE E-Book to learn how you can become more disciplined and focused than normal people and beat procrastination forever.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.