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Why you procrastinate — and how to still get things done | Tim Urban

Watch the full talk: A clip from Tim Urban’s TED Talk “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator” from TED2016 Tim Urban knows that procrastination doesn’t make sense, but he’s never been able to shake his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. In this hilarious and insightful talk, Urban takes…

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Watch the full talk:

A clip from Tim Urban’s TED Talk “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator” from TED2016

Tim Urban knows that procrastination doesn’t make sense, but he’s never been able to shake his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. In this hilarious and insightful talk, Urban takes us on a journey through YouTube binges, Wikipedia rabbit holes and bouts of staring out the window — and encourages us to think harder about what we’re really procrastinating on, before we run out of time.

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You’re welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

Become a TED Member:
Follow TED on Twitter:
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Subscribe to our channel:

TED’s videos may be used for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons License, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives (or the CC BY – NC – ND 4.0 International) and in accordance with our TED Talks Usage Policy (). For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), please submit a Media Request at

So in college, I had to write a lot of papers.

Now, when a normal student writes a paper,
they might spread the work out a little like

this.

And I would want to do that.

But then, actually, the paper would come along,
and then I would kind of do this.

Now, I had a hypothesis that the brains of
procrastinators were actually different than

the brains of other people.

And to test this, I found an MRI lab that
actually let me scan both my brain and the

brain of a proven non-procrastinator, so I
could compare them.

So here’s the brain of a non-procrastinator.

Now, here’s my brain.

There is a difference.

Both brains have a Rational Decision-Maker
in them, but the procrastinator’s brain also

has an Instant Gratification Monkey.

Now, what does this mean for the procrastinator?

Well, it means everything’s fine until this
happens.

So the Rational Decision-Maker will make the
rational decision to do something productive,

but the Monkey doesn’t like that plan, so
he actually takes the wheel, and he says,

“Actually, let’s read the entire Wikipedia
page of the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal,

because I just remembered that that happened.”

The Instant Gratification Monkey does not
seem like a guy you want behind the wheel.

He lives entirely in the present moment.

He has no memory of the past, no knowledge
of the future, and he only cares about two

things: easy and fun.

Now, sometimes it makes sense to be doing
things that are easy and fun.

But other times, it makes much more sense
to be doing things that are harder and less

pleasant, for the sake of the big picture.

And that’s when we have a conflict.

Turns out that the procrastinator has a guardian
angel, someone called the Panic Monster.

Now, the Panic Monster is dormant most of
the time, but he suddenly wakes up anytime

a deadline gets too close or there’s danger
of public embarrassment, a career disaster

or some other scary consequence.

But there’s a second kind of procrastination
that happens in situations when there is no

deadline.

So if you wanted to have a career where you’re
a self-starter—something in the arts, something

entrepreneurial—there’s no deadlines on
those things at first, because nothing’s happening,

not until you’ve gone out and done the hard
work to get some momentum, to get things going.

There’s also all kinds of important things
outside of your career that don’t involve

any deadlines, like seeing your family or
exercising and taking care of your health,

working on your relationship or getting out
of a relationship that isn’t working.

Now if the procrastinator’s only mechanism
of doing these hard things is the Panic Monster,

that’s a problem, because in all of these
non-deadline situations, the Panic Monster

doesn’t show up.

And it’s this long-term kind of procrastination
that’s much less visible and much less talked

about than the funnier, short-term deadline-based
kind.

And it can be the source of a huge amount
of long-term unhappiness, and regrets.

I had a little bit of an epiphany.

I don’t think non-procrastinators exist.

That’s right.

I think all of you are procrastinators.

Now, you might not all be a mess, like some
of us, and some of you may have a healthy

relationship with deadlines, but remember:
the Monkey’s sneakiest trick is when the deadlines

aren’t there.

We need to think about what we’re really procrastinating
on, because everyone is procrastinating on

something in life.

That’s a job for all of us, and it’s a job
that should probably start today.

Well, maybe not today, but you know.

Sometime soon.

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72 Comments

72 Comments

  1. sertaki

    July 17, 2021 at 5:01 pm

    Guess why I’m watching this video.

  2. Hot Girls Video XXX

    July 17, 2021 at 5:07 pm

    Stop drifting for this moment of separation to last,

  3. Ranjeet Odedra

    July 17, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    Repost ?

  4. Pacmanshooter

    July 17, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    I am procrasting by watching this.

  5. Mohammed Aejaz Ahmed

    July 17, 2021 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks for shortening that video, I’m motivated to learn angular now

  6. Felip STR

    July 17, 2021 at 5:22 pm

    NIce!
    thx

  7. Maoux

    July 17, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    ‘and how to still get things done’ ?

  8. Indra Kurniawan

    July 17, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    I like the long version

  9. Robert Leach

    July 17, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    I am 76 , change up Boy.

  10. Yas Sin

    July 17, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    Lol i swear sometimes even my panic monster is a little afraid of the instant gratification monkey XD

  11. 123

    July 17, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    How many years old is this video?

  12. Sathrimel

    July 17, 2021 at 7:10 pm

    Saved to watch later

  13. Hanzo Hasashi

    July 17, 2021 at 7:23 pm

    Currently procrastinating applying for jobs 😅 go me

  14. Dani de Janeiro

    July 17, 2021 at 7:38 pm

    Title: why you procrastinate and how to still get things done
    Vídeo: haha silly monkey here comes the monster it happens to everyone see you tomorrow maybe
    Me: huh?

  15. Cabdullaahi Bootaan

    July 17, 2021 at 8:19 pm

    The monkey (procrastinator) snikiest trick is when there is no deadline.

  16. ALI RAWAL

    July 17, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    Once again I have saved for watch later 🤣🤠

  17. Harshraj Rathore

    July 17, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    Applying for jobs and getting one is not easy.

  18. الأسود العنسي

    July 17, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    I will watch this video tomorrow.

  19. Niklas

    July 17, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    Does Tim have adhd?
    Because what he describes in this video is pretty much exactly how people with adhd work…

  20. SimSim

    July 17, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    And here I thought that this was a follow up talk :/
    Still enjoyed the vid though

  21. Tarlan Kasra

    July 17, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    Of course it happened FYI it was “only” all over the news back in the day SMH.

  22. Arthur He

    July 17, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    nooooo if it was full length I would procrasinate to watch it and I might get things done otherwise, but now it’s short so the monkey likes it and uses it to procrastinate

  23. TheCommonGentry

    July 18, 2021 at 12:50 am

    feels weird. didnt think ted-ed would go in this trend threadd/post bumping. .. i genuine thought he did a follow up and the monkey was making a came back :,(

  24. Jamaican Princess1974

    July 18, 2021 at 5:14 am

    That was funny at the end

  25. Kiran kumar ♂️

    July 18, 2021 at 5:24 am

    Timetravellers are those who watching this again 😂

  26. patna

    July 18, 2021 at 5:33 am

    Hard work pays off tomorrow. Procrastination pays off today!

  27. Peter Polak

    July 18, 2021 at 6:16 am

    Ok bois let’s watch this for the fifth time, but this time in a shortened version

  28. Jo

    July 18, 2021 at 6:19 am

    Have i watched this already?

  29. Saara

    July 18, 2021 at 6:23 am

    Coincidence! Am presenting this as a topic for class presentation and am just preparing it few hours left🤦🏽‍♀️
    Big procrastinator here🙋🏽‍♀️

  30. Gaurav Mishra

    July 18, 2021 at 7:15 am

    Awesome video 😂😂 more like stand up comedy in disguise..

  31. Karamdeep Singh

    July 18, 2021 at 7:22 am

    Lol recommended again by youtube

  32. Nikolay Vakulich

    July 18, 2021 at 7:44 am

    Save to Watch Later

  33. Chan WS

    July 18, 2021 at 8:23 am

    I’ve procrastinated so much the panic monster has gone away and my work still isn’t done

  34. cosmiicc90

    July 18, 2021 at 9:14 am

    I’m literally procrastinating watching this video

  35. Eduardo Cardoso

    July 18, 2021 at 11:53 am

    Subtitles in portuguese please

  36. がだ

    July 18, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    Actually this is bullshit and the truth is that the monkey is all about future and past. It reminds me that the work will hardly mean anything in the long run and at the same time it reminds me of good times I had implying happiness would ever be lost.
    One more thing, when the monkey have grown strong enough, it kills the panic monster.

  37. j.s Varaba

    July 18, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    1

    오늘도 영상 👀잘보고 갈께요~
    📰구독 👍좋아요 ⏰알람 ……….👌오케이
    (^^) (__)(^^)

  38. n n

    July 18, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    the cover of this video reminds me of that meme with that dude with an obsessed crazy sight and “MURDER” written on the board

  39. Christopher Sundquist

    July 18, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    This is a joke. A procrastinator simpley doesn’t do things unless they NEED to be done. They are satisfied with the way things are and don’t want to change unless they NEED to.

  40. Mr Rod

    July 18, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    I am in the comments for the puns

  41. Sloth Belly

    July 18, 2021 at 4:11 pm

    stop reminding me that i have work to do when i procrastinating, that creepy.

  42. Kris Bari

    July 18, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    I’m too lazy to watch this video 🤧
    Okay! Watch it later

  43. Marcus Hanna

    July 18, 2021 at 5:28 pm

    “…and it’s a job that should probably start today. Well, maybe not today. You know…sometime soon…”

    -*spoken like a true procrastinator*

  44. mosbyaj

    July 18, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    Bookmarked so I can watch this later.

  45. MaJR The Chief

    July 18, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    Yeaaaah!

  46. Cegomez

    July 18, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    I think I have become the monkey

  47. TheAdventure bro

    July 19, 2021 at 12:57 am

    My monkey must be the size of King Kong

  48. Bhargav Nanekalva

    July 19, 2021 at 2:59 am

    … and what is the answer to the second part of the question?
    “and how to still get things done”

  49. Paul Dill

    July 19, 2021 at 3:20 am

    Story of my life.

  50. $

    July 19, 2021 at 5:31 am

    It’s a long video I’ll watch it later

  51. Nick Nelson

    July 19, 2021 at 6:11 am

    I’ll watch this later.

  52. ccm800

    July 19, 2021 at 7:38 am

    Looks like he may have procrastinated those slides 🙂

  53. sondra russell

    July 19, 2021 at 8:13 am

    I definitely need to save this to watch later

  54. BENZON ANIME NOSTALGIA

    July 19, 2021 at 8:18 am

    Thank you TED

  55. supercalafragilisticjoy

    July 19, 2021 at 10:20 am

    I was excited for a moment because I thought TED had brought him on again

  56. Mystery_tech Nepal

    July 19, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    This thing has been already said in geet years ago

  57. John M

    July 19, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    I watch this as I have 4 pieces of work due in 4 weeks. About 12000 words total. These are my final pieces of work and then I graduate.

  58. Alistair Strachan

    July 19, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    I know I am procrastinating doing some work by watching this.

  59. EM.M.A

    July 19, 2021 at 2:47 pm

    I’m liker no 3333

  60. M. Farhan Reshaina

    July 19, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    Dude really need some designer

  61. Thomas De Quincey

    July 20, 2021 at 12:33 am

    Watch the original vid. It’s better.

  62. YANRY

    July 20, 2021 at 8:51 am

    Just my Two penny:-
    Why do you blame yourself in ancient time there was no sense of time Hence No procrastination
    Don’t blame yourself blame 9to5 society

    And Great achievements are only achieved where there is no sense of time

  63. shelly white

    July 20, 2021 at 11:38 am

    Never procrastinate especially when it involves making money and investing. procrastinating promotes poverty and laziness

    • Anthony Szymon

      July 20, 2021 at 11:42 am

      wise words, the investment market has been tough this days, how do you pull through?

    • shelly white

      July 20, 2021 at 11:46 am

      @Anthony Szymon My financial consultant is MORLEY PERCY and I first came in touch with her from an investment podcast, you can get in touch with her by looking up her name online, all her details are public.

    • jay pritchett

      July 20, 2021 at 11:48 am

      @shelly white i have heard of Morley Percy, i think i will get in touch with her now. thank you for this valuable information, its never good to procrastinate

  64. Raphael Carizo

    July 20, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    Here I am procastinating with a video about procastination

  65. Екатерина Забелло

    July 20, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    What was the moral ? The most educative part ? I know that we are All procrastinators. But is it good or bad? What should I do with it?

  66. Tobi k

    July 20, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    First TED talk video with comments enabled! yay

  67. Mayur savage

    July 21, 2021 at 5:03 am

    alright, Lets procrastinate procrastination.!

  68. Sainty

    July 22, 2021 at 12:47 am

    He has ADHD😄

  69. Chantelle

    July 23, 2021 at 1:01 am

    I thought you were going to give me the answer on how to stop procrastinating 💀

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Education

How to support yourself (and others) through grief | Nina Westbrook

Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more. In big and small ways, we all experience loss: whether it’s the passing of a loved one, the close of a career or even the end of a dream. Explaining how to process many types of sorrow, marriage and…

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Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more.

In big and small ways, we all experience loss: whether it’s the passing of a loved one, the close of a career or even the end of a dream. Explaining how to process many types of sorrow, marriage and family therapist Nina Westbrook highlights the importance of grief as a natural emotion and a powerful lens to help you imagine new futures — and shares ways to support yourself and others through difficult times. (This conversation, hosted by TED curator Cloe Shasha Brooks, is part of TED’s “How to Deal with Difficult Feelings” series.)

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You’re welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

Become a TED Member:
Follow TED on Twitter:
Like TED on Facebook:
Subscribe to our channel:

TED’s videos may be used for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons License, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives (or the CC BY – NC – ND 4.0 International) and in accordance with our TED Talks Usage Policy (). For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), please submit a Media Request at

Transcriber:

Cloe Shasha Brooks: Hello, TED Community,

you are watching a TED interview series

called How to Deal
with Difficult Feelings.

I’m your host, Cloe Shasha Brooks,
and a curator at TED.

This past year has been full
of both personal and collective grief.

And this grief has taken many forms.

And to dive deeper into the world
of understanding and managing grief,

I’ll be speaking first
with Nina Westbrook,

a marriage and family therapist
who has supported clients through loss.

Hi, Nina.

Nina Westbrook: Hi, Cloe,
good to see you.

Thank you so much for having me.

CSB: Thanks for joining us.

Nina, you have talked about how grief
can be about the loss of people

and tangible things.

But that it can also be
about the loss of dreams,

something that many people
have experienced over the past year.

Can you give me some examples
of grieving for lost dreams

and talk about what it means
to experience this kind of grief?

NW: Absolutely.

I believe that grief can take
so many different forms,

and I think oftentimes
when we think about grief,

we associate it with the emotional process

that takes place when we’re coping
with the death of a loved one.

I don’t know.

It’s just not as common to associate grief

or correlate grief
with the loss of a dream.

So when you think about dreams
and when they begin

and how deeply they’re rooted
into our daily lives and our routines

and how much our dreams

determine our decision-making process

and the choices that we make
throughout the course of our lives,

they hold a pretty significant
amount of space

in our minds and in our hearts.

Imagine a child who,

you know, from a young age,
we begin to dream

and they begin to dream
about becoming an astronaut one day

and walking on the moon
or becoming a professional athlete.

And then as we grow older,

we begin to focus in
on what our needs are

and what our wants are,

and our dreams begin to look more
like acquiring our dream careers

or job positions or opening businesses,

having children or finding love.

And the reality is that these dreams
do not always work out

and manifest themselves in a way
that we have imagined, right?

And that can be so devastating
for so many people.

The loss of careers and jobs

or our divorces,
the loss of relationships,

or infertility can all be
extremely devastating things

and those types of devastating events

propel you into the emotional process

that takes place during grief.

CSB: Let’s bring a question up
from the audience.

What are comforting things to do
or say when someone is grieving?

So I guess someone else in this case.

NW: That’s a really amazing question.

A lot of the time, simply being present

and offering support and encouragement

is really going to be important

when you’re trying to support
someone else through their grief.

I think communication is also important,

asking that person,

“What can I do,”

or “What do you need
from me in this moment

and how can I best support you,”

is kind of going to be the best way
to figure out how to support this person.

Sometimes they just want
someone to listen to.

Sometimes they need someone
to make them laugh or to help, you know,

keep them distracted for a moment

or sometimes they just need someone
to be around them.

It just really depends on the person,

since grief is so subjective
in the way that we go through it.

CSB: Totally.

And let’s go right
into some strategies, too.

So I’m sure you have strategies
for managing the grief of lost dreams.

How do people pick themselves
back up after that?

NW: You want to give yourself
permission to grieve, first off.

And it’s not a linear journey,

there is going to be lots of ups
and downs that take place.

Some days you’re going to be OK
and some days you might cry

and sometimes you might go
a month without crying.

And then one day everything comes
crashing down all at once.

It’s just a matter of giving yourself
permission to go through these feelings

and knowing and reassuring yourself
that this is OK and it’s normal.

And also keeping in mind

that it’s OK to feel joy
even in those moments of sadness

that you’re going to experience
when you’re grieving.

The other thing that I think
is really important

is just to be proactive
in the grieving process.

Don’t ignore your grief.

You can seek support.

You can’t be afraid to ask for support

or lean on others, people that you trust,

friends, family members, coworkers,
whomever it may be for support.

And then making a plan, making a new plan.

Mourning happens over time.

What it’s doing, what we’re doing,

and all of the emotions
that were going through

during that mourning process

is we’re literally detaching ourselves
emotionally from the dream

that we are mourning

or from the object that we’re mourning.

And what that’s doing
is opening yourself up

and making space for new dreams

and new experiences
and new opportunities in the future.

So goal setting and planning
is going to be key.

A lot of the time
we really focus on plan A.

So this is a great time to pivot

and focus on planning
for a new future and a new outcome.

CSB: Absolutely.

And just one final quick question for you,

which is that sometimes people
get mad at themselves

for not getting over their grief.

What would you say to those people?

NW: It’s really important to keep healing
at the forefront of your mind.

And I think that understanding
the grief process

and going through the ups and downs

and knowing that that’s all a part of it,

you have to be patient with yourself,

you have to give yourself grace

and understand that you’re
going to have good days,

you’re going to have bad days.

But when it all comes down to it,

if you’re keeping the idea
of healing in the forefront,

then you can focus your energy
and your time into that process

and going through it in a way
that is productive

to your emotional well-being
in the future.

CSB: Wonderful.

Well, thank you so much
for this conversation, Nina.

We have come to the end,

but really grateful to you for joining us.

Take care.

NW: Thank you so much
for having me. Take care.

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Education

Who makes judges? | Jessica Kerr

Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more. What qualifies someone to become a judge? The answer is surprisingly vague and even taboo to discuss. Lawyer Jessica Kerr sifts through the murky, mysterious process that sits at the center of the Commonwealth judicial system in countries like…

Published

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Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more.

What qualifies someone to become a judge? The answer is surprisingly vague and even taboo to discuss. Lawyer Jessica Kerr sifts through the murky, mysterious process that sits at the center of the Commonwealth judicial system in countries like Australia — and makes the case for “judge school,” a legal education better fit to bring justice, legitimacy and public trust to any court.

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You’re welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

Become a TED Member:
Follow TED on Twitter:
Like TED on Facebook:
Subscribe to our channel:

TED’s videos may be used for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons License, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives (or the CC BY – NC – ND 4.0 International) and in accordance with our TED Talks Usage Policy (). For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), please submit a Media Request at

Transcriber:

You’re in a room you don’t want to be in.

Something bad has happened.

There’s a stranger in a suit
with your future in their hands,

A judge.

Four years ago, that judge was me.

The people looking up at me then
had no choice but to trust me.

But what had I done to deserve it?

Australia’s judicial system operates
under a shroud of mystique

which fends off tough questions like this.

But you will have the right to ask

how people like me prepare
for the job of judging.

And you may not feel comfortable
with the answers.

The system needs to change.

To set the scene, first,
let’s think about public confidence.

Judges in Australia are not elected.

Yet, the power they wield is immense.

Ultimately, we trust the system

because we believe
that judges generally get it right.

If we lose that belief,

we risk unbalancing
the whole constitution.

But we live in a time when blind faith
in elites is eroding fast.

Judges are increasingly vulnerable
to the “why” question.

Why do you deserve the power
we have given you?

And so they should be.

Second, it’s fundamental that judges
have to be seen as independent,

doing their jobs without fear or favor.

To avoid any pressure
from the government of the day,

judges have high salaries,
which can never be cut,

and they can’t be fired
for what they say or do.

Unless they’re obviously corrupt or mad.

In exchange, judges agree
to be ultrarestrained,

both in and out of court.

A kind of veil comes down
when a judge is appointed.

It’s a lonely way to live,

and it feeds into this sense
that judges are somehow different

from the rest of us.

Finally, I can tell you that all judges
are in theory appointed on merit.

That sounds good.

And in theory it is.

Judges are chosen
in a confidential process

which relies heavily on advice
from senior judges.

The people chosen
are all experienced lawyers,

traditionally top courtroom
lawyers or barristers,

who spend their days
appearing in front of judges.

They’re all personally
shoulder-tapped for the job,

and the results are in general,
pretty impressive.

But what do we really mean
when we talk about merit?

For one thing, barristers
are historically maler,

paler and staler than other lawyers,

which is really saying something.

It’s been argued that the people
who get chosen as judges are above all,

the ones who remind
existing judges of themselves.

Diversity on the bench is an issue
that’s become impossible to ignore.

And judges are essentially picked

based on how well they argue cases
in front of judges.

But that doesn’t really make sense.

Let’s compare a courtroom
and an operating theater.

Barristers and judges both play
essential roles in court,

just like anesthetists
and surgeons in an operation.

But you don’t hand
an anesthetist a scalpel

just because he’s been putting
people to sleep

for the surgeon for 10 years.

The underlying skill set may be
the same in law as in medicine,

but the jobs are fundamentally different.

The strange truth about judging
in countries like Australia

is that even though judges
are such an important part of government,

we’ve basically privatized
the system of making them.

That work is done, if it’s done at all,

within the private legal profession.

And here’s the thing.

There is no judge school
for wannabe judges.

Judicial appointment is seen
as a badge of honor,

not as a professional milestone
that a lawyer builds up to

the way that a doctor works
towards specialization.

Judges are just lawyers

until the day they take the judicial oath.

And from that day it is sink or swim,

except they can’t be fired
for incompetence.

How do you think it would feel

to know your life was on the line
in a judge’s first ever case?

And how do you think
that judge would feel?

The transition to the bench
can be a baptism by fire.

I had never run
a criminal trial as a lawyer,

and there I was in a magistrate’s court

in the Seychelles,

being asked to hand down
12-year prison sentences

in my first month on the job.

It was terrifying.

Is it any easier to make that transition
as a top courtroom lawyer?

Well, in some ways, definitely.

Barristers do know a lot of law

and the years of watching judges in action
do give them a head start

on how the process works.

But as society changes,

our expectations of judges
are changing, too.

Judges are increasingly called on

for a whole range
of extra nonlegal skills.

They have to be managers and leaders,

politically and culturally savvy,

able to handle relentless scrutiny
and social isolation.

We don’t necessarily expect
or even value those skills in a barrister.

And when we aim
for a more diverse judiciary,

the problem actually gets worse.

If we want less male, less pale judges,

we’re not likely to find them all
in barristers chambers.

And people who haven’t spent
their working lives in court

can’t possibly be expected
to just know how judging works,

no matter how excellent
they may be in other ways.

So what you end up with
is a situation where no new judge

is actually likely to have every piece
of the merit puzzle.

But the number and shape
of those missing pieces

varies hugely from judge to judge.

How is this OK?

Why does our system assume
that anyone comes ready-made

for such a demanding job?

It turns out there are some
pretty strong cultural reasons why.

People who study judiciaries,
that’s me now,

are traditionally reluctant to talk
about behind-the-scenes issues,

like making judges,

for fear of being seen
as interfering with judicial independence.

I think this has gone too far.

Independence depends on public confidence.

And we can no longer be expected to trust
what can’t be explained and justified.

But the legal elite have an obvious
interest in maintaining the status quo.

As a lawyer,

it feels uncomfortable
to criticize a process

that my barrister friends
say is a natural progression,

even a kind of right.

And getting any lawyer to talk openly
about learning how to judge is hard.

People like me learn quickly

that admitting to judicial
ambitions is out of order.

You can aim to be a barrister,
which puts you in the running,

but you can’t be seen as angling
for an appointment.

The contrast with a profession
like medicine couldn’t be more stark.

The incentives in law are all backwards.

I came to realize

that it was only in confronting
these culture barriers

that I would have any hope
of breaking through

from the why to the how.

So how do we talk about making judges?

It starts with government taking more
responsibility for its own processes.

And not just in explaining
why it picks one person over another,

although that would help.

At the top of my list
is ongoing education for judges.

Judges in Australia do actually
go to judge school now,

kind of,

but only behind closed doors
once they’re already on the job.

It’s labeled as CPD: Continuing
professional development,

which is totally routine
and compulsory for lawyers

and other modern professionals.

But because no one is supposed
to tell a judge what to do

or how to think,

in case that undermines
their independence,

it’s all voluntary.

In principle, a judge like me
could just say no.

And that CPD label neatly avoids
the elephant in the room,

the fact that every modern lawyer
needs at least some help

learning how to be a good judge
in the first place.

There’s actually some amazing work
starting to happen in judicial education,

but it is nowhere near enough.

And in any case,

it’s those pre-appointment years
that matter the most.

Government has taken
no responsibility at all here.

And to get past that stigma
on wannabe judges,

the profession itself has to change.

Whether it happens formally or informally,

we need to be thinking
about a judicial career path

and actively creating judicial merit.

We need to support young lawyers like me,

particularly the diverse ones,

to do things that will
make them great judges,

not just great lawyers,

especially when those things

are not likely to get them
promoted as lawyers.

In hindsight, I wish
I’d had way more experience

in things like community justice,

technology and management.

And I so wish I could have gone
to judge school.

Better prepared lawyers
would mean better inputs

for those people who choose
and manage judges

and ultimately better evidence
that those judges deserve your trust.

And that’s what it all comes back to.

Any of us, any day,

could find our future
in the hands of a judge.

In that moment,

we need to be able
to look each other in the eye

and know we can trust the system.

Thank you.

(Applause)

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Education

Essential questions to ask your future self | Meg Jay

Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more. How much do you think about your future self? If your answer is not much, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to plan for a version of yourself you haven’t met yet, says psychologist Meg Jay. Sharing how…

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Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more.

How much do you think about your future self? If your answer is not much, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to plan for a version of yourself you haven’t met yet, says psychologist Meg Jay. Sharing how to close the empathy gap between you and your future selves, she outlines courageous questions to ask about how your present and future can align, so you can begin to achieve your goals. (This conversation, hosted by TED current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers, was part of a TED Membership event. Visit ted.com/membership to become a TED Member.)

0:00 Intro
0:13 The empathy gap between your current and future selves
1:55 Philosopher Derek Parfit: “We neglect our future selves because of some sort of failure or belief or imagination.”
3:00 How virtual reality could help you save for retirement
3:45 A Q&A with your future self
5:54 Get to know yourself anytime — age doesn’t matter
7:38 Next steps with your future self

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You’re welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

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Transcriber:

Meg Jay: We need to talk
about the empathy gap.

So the empathy gap is
why we sometimes hate on people

on the other end
of the political spectrum.

Or it’s why maybe we shrug their shoulders

at the problems of those
who look different

or live different
or love different than we do.

It’s why we almost certainly
aren’t doing enough

to protect our kids and grandkids
from climate change.

It can just be difficult sometimes
to care about people that we don’t know

or to do right by people
who don’t even exist yet.

But what if I told you
that that same empathy gap

can also get in the way of us doing right
by ourselves in our 20s and beyond?

And before I go on,

let me say that everything
I’m about to talk about

also applies to all of us out there
who are well beyond our 20s.

But for a little bit of background,

in 2013, I gave a talk
about why our twenties matter.

So it’s about almost 10 years later.

I’m still a clinical psychologist
who specializes in 20-somethings.

But these days, the 20-somethings I see,
they know their 20s matter.

So they want to get them right.

They want to move to the right city.

They want to take the right job.

They want to find the right partner.

They want to have the right answers.

Well, the bad news is
there are no right answers.

There are no right answers for where
you should live or where you should work

or how you should settle down.

These are what are called
“large world problems”

because there are just too many unknowns.

No app, no algorithm, no enneagram

can ever solve these problems
or answer these questions for you.

But the good news is,
because there are no right answers,

there are no wrong answers.

There are only your answers.

So your 20s are a great time
to listen to and be honest with yourself.

They’re a great time to have
a conversation with your future self.

So philosopher Derek Parfit said
we neglect our future selves

because of some sort of failure
of belief or imagination.

So I’m going to say that again,
because it’s really important:

we neglect our future selves

because of some sort of failure
of belief or imagination.

So when you’re young,
it can be difficult to imagine or believe

that you could ever really be 35,

especially when most of the influencers
you see on Instagram or TikTok

are younger than that.

But that’s a problem
because research shows

that our brains think
about our future selves

similarly to how
they think about strangers.

And that’s where the empathy gap comes in.

It can be difficult for us to care
about a version of ourselves

that we haven’t met yet.

Yet research also shows

that if we find a way
to close that empathy gap

between our present selves
and our future selves,

we start to think more
about what we could do now

to be kind to ourselves down the line.

So in one of my favorite studies on this,
researchers used virtual reality

to show 20-somethings

what they would look like
when they’re old.

Scary, I know, but the 20-somethings
who saw their age-morphed selves,

set aside more money towards
retirement than those who didn’t.

So I don’t have
virtual reality in my office

and saving for retirement isn’t something
that comes up a whole lot.

But what does come up a whole lot

is that about 85 percent
of life’s most defining moments

take place by around age 35.

So I ask my clients
to imagine themselves at age 35

and I ask them to believe in their ability
to have created those defining moments.

And then I ask them to get
really specific about what they see.

What do I look like, where do I live,
what do I do for work?

Do I enjoy the work? Is it meaningful?
Is it important? Does it pay well?

Might these things be true one day?

Which of these things
do I really care about?

What about after work?

Who do I come home to?
Do I have a partner?

What does that relationship look like?

How does it look different or similar
to the ones that I saw growing up?

Are there kids in the picture?
How old was I when I had my first child?

How old might I be when that child
goes to college or has their own kids?

And of course, am I happy, am I healthy?

And what exactly do I do or not do
that makes me happy and healthy?

So the idea here is just to try
to get to know your future self,

because when we spend time
connecting with that person,

we do some reverse engineering

and we start to ask
our present self questions

about how our present and our future

can come together or meet somewhere
in the middle, along the way.

We start to ask questions like,

“How is everything
I think I want going to fit?”

or “What does all this mean
about what I need to be doing now?”

Or here’s one of my favorite questions
to ask yourself at any age:

“If I’m in a job
or a relationship or a situation

I would like not to be in in five years,

then how much longer
am I going to spend on this?”

So, like I said, many
of these are tough questions.

But 20 years of doing this work

has taught me that 20-somethings aren’t
afraid of being asked the tough questions.

What they’re really afraid of
is not being asked the tough questions.

And maybe that’s because
they’ve told the world

that they’re interested in having
courageous conversations

about race and class
and politics and the environment.

And perhaps at any age,

one of the most courageous conversations
you can have is with your future self.

Thank you.

Whitney Pennington Rodgers:
Thank you so much, Meg.

That was wonderful.

I’m glad to be here with you
and with all of our members.

And I know that your work is
with people in their 20s, young adults.

But you mentioned in your talk

that this is something you can apply
at any stage of your life

and at any point.

It’s not just advice that you should use
in your 20s, is that right?

MJ: Oh, yes.

I mean, I think our 20s is when we first
start having to sort of figure out,

“Oh, there’s a future self out there.

And I guess I better think
about that person.”

Because, you know, like,
school kind of does it for us,

has us plot two or three years in advance.

So our 20s are when we first start
to think across those horizons.

We get better at it over time.

And then in our 30s, 40s, 50s, we have
more built-in connections to the future.

Like maybe if you have kids,

you think, “Hey, I really
want to be around

when they graduate from college”
or whatever the case may be.

So there are there are ways we kind of —

it becomes a little bit more natural
the older that you get.

But it’s always important.

I have a couple in my practice right now

and they’re actually having a conversation
with their future relationship,

because in about five years,

their kids are going to
be leaving for college

and they want to be sure they have
a marriage they feel good about

when the kids are gone.

Or if I think about myself, I’m 51.

So I’m having a conversation
with my future self

about, “Hey, you know,

what do I want to get out of
the years of my career

that are just ahead in my 50s

and, you know, time’s running out.

What is it I want to get done?”

So I think we’re, you know,

we always need to be
in conversation with our future self.

It’s just something that’s new

and usually quite difficult
for 20-somethings.

WPR: So I guess one thing
I’m curious about is, you know,

people have said, “OK, I like
this idea of these questions.

I want to ask myself these questions.”

And they do that. And then what happens?

You know, I guess,
what do you recommend people do next?

What is the way that
they can sort of take this further

to advance themselves and this thinking?

MJ: Yeah, so, you know, again,

it depends on the goal
or what ended up happening

between you and your future self
in this conversation.

But I think like most long-form projects,

so I would suggest some, you know,
pencil and paper, do some math,

sort of sketch out
some things just to start with.

And then as you go along,

you might realize other things
that are important to you down the line

that you want to be sure
that you get in there and add in there.

And then I would figure out —
it depends on what it is,

but a schedule that works for you,
where you check in about your progress on,

“Hey, am I being true to myself
and to my future self

in terms of what I said
I was going to start prioritizing more.”

So maybe that check-in is once a month.

Maybe it’s every year on New Year’s.

Maybe it’s your birthday.

It really kind of depends.

But I do think — I mean,
having this conversation one time

because you heard my chat today

and then dropping it is probably
not going to do a lot for you.

But if it’s kind of the beginning
of an ongoing conversation with yourself

and like with any goal,

it’s probably something we need to
keep circling back around on.

“OK? Is this still what I want
and how am I doing on this?”

It kind of create some accountability.

And so for that, that is where I think

some people find,
I’m going to tell a friend

or I’m going to tell my pastor

or I’m going to write it in my journal

or whatever it is for you

to kind of say, this is a goal
that I’m going to own

and I’m going to keep coming back to it.

WPR: Have some sort of partner,

even if that partner is yourself,
your future self.

MJ: Right.

WPR: Well, Meg, thank you so much
for being with us today,

for your for your talk and for sharing
so much of your wisdom

around these questions
and your 20s, and so much more.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

MJ: Yeah, my pleasure. It was really fun.

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