My office is a mess. I don’t feel like cleaning it – I’d rather play with the kids right now. So I say, “I will clean it in the future,” and I go play. A week later, my office is still a mess.
You’re not saving for retirement. You’re also spending as much as you bring in because you’re going out a lot and you just picked up a big HDTV and those car lease payments are whittling you down. So you say, “I will start saving in the future.” Five years later, you don’t have a dime in retirement.
I’m overweight. I was in pretty good shape, but my exercise routine was blown away by the writing, editing, and promotional work for my upcoming book. I’d like to run, but there is so much else to do. So I say, “I will go exercise in the future,” and I work on other things. A month later, I still haven’t started that exercise routine.
You’re in a truckload of debt, but there are a bunch of things happening this summer that you want to do. So you tell yourself, “I will come up with a debt repayment plan in the future.” A year from now, your debt situation is worse (if that’s possible).
I need to redo our will to account for our newborn son. It’s one of those “important but not urgent” tasks, so I’ll tell myself, “I’ll adjust the will in the future.” A month later, it’s still not done.
Going back to school. Looking for a different job. Taking charge of our spending. Kicking a smoking or a drinking or a drug habit. Rebuilding a relationship with our father or our mother or our sister or our brother.
There are countless things that we ought to be doing now, but instead of doing them, we simply say, “Our future self will do it.”
Guess what? Our future self is pretty unreliable, too. He/she doesn’t think that the task in hand sounds like much fun, either, and he/she is just as likely to put it off as you are.
Actually, your future self is even more likely to put it off than you are because you’ve already established a pattern that putting off that important thing is okay.
If you want to actually succeed in life, stop relying on your future self to take care of things. Now.
If you’re in debt and want to fix it, start fixing it now.
If you’re overweight, start eating better and exercising now.
If you’re not saving for retirement, set up retirement savings now.
If you want to get household tasks done, do them now.
Don’t find excuses to not do them because you want to do something “fun” today. There will always be something fun to do, which means there will always be a reason to avoid making the hard changes.
If you won’t make the change, your future self certainly won’t, either. By skipping out now, you’re telling your future self that not doing it is just fine.
Are you going to do something today, or are you going to give you and your future self permission to never actually get around to it?