Your Future Self

In my work as a life coach, I hear people talk about procrastination. I'm sympathetic because on occasion I suffer from it myself (full transparency: I am finishing this post just an hour before it is supposed to "drop").


The "what" of procrastination is rather simple. You, now, would rather put off doing something that needs to be done.


The "why" is more complicated. You might be distracted, disorganized, prone to laziness, don't like delaying some gratification, want to avoid perceived pain, etc.


One solution is to have your future self speak to your present self. If your goals are to exercise, lose weight, read more, avoid binge-watching TV, begin mindfulness, etc. ask: if that is what I sincerely need and want, what can I do to make that EASIER now?


That's the key. Make it easier. Break the goal down into doable tasks and create realistic but motivated benchmarks.


Let's look at eating for an example.


There’s a conflict that often happens when we try to be disciplined about something: I want this pizza right now, but I know I’ll regret it later.


Which interest should win out: your future self, who doesn’t want you to consume too many carbs and sugars … or your present self, who doesn’t care so much about nutrition and just wants to devour something delicious?


Notice how both answers are okay. You should be careful with your diet but you also deserve food that tastes good. What happens is that the present self usually wins, because it controls the action and so its interests are more important. But the future self truly has a stronger case as it is composed of a bunch of future selves (you in 10 minutes from now, you an hour/day/year from now). So shouldn’t a thousand future selves outweigh the current self’s interest?