5 Ways to be Kinder to Our Future Self

I have to admit, I’m not always kind to my future self. I have such high expectations of the future me, but if I’m not careful, I will set her up to fail. As much as I value being present in the now and seizing the moment, one thing is certain: we tend to cut our current self a break and just expect that our future self will pick up the slack. This is true with diet, exercise, finances, work, and more. If you’ve ever skipped that workout, stopped the 401k contribution, eaten that donut, or bought that item just outside your budget, while comforting yourself with the idea that your future self would be better, than you know exactly what I’m talking about.

This reminds me of a common issue in retail. The evening shift employees would often say, if the morning team would just do their part, we wouldn’t have to work so hard to get everything done before closing, while the day shift employees would say the same about the evening crew.  I imagine my future self saying this. In fact, it’s happened. The me that started dieting would often ask, “why didn’t you start this sooner or skip all that crap food in the first place?” Those with college-bound kids often experience something similar. Those 50 and older do too, when they see the balance in their retirement accounts. Their future self is much closer, and they can see the difficulties that await them.

So how can we be kinder to our future self while still living in the moment? Here are 5 ways:

  1. Be clear on what you want your future self to look like – This is less about goals and more about vision. This will also change, so consider the future versions of yourself in 5 year increments. Break down what you want for the future you 5 years from now, 10 years from now, and so on. Your needs will change, so you want to take those into consideration.
  2. Come up with a plan – Once you know what you want for your future self, you can create a plan that supports this vision every day. If you want to pay off your $3000 credit card bill so that the future you can start saving for a new car, make a list of all the little things you could do to support this every day. Even if you don’t accomplish all of them, you will still feel like you made some progress (which makes the current you feel good).
  3. Create space to live in the present – This means giving yourself some sort of allowance to enjoy the now. If that means eating a donut, skipping a workout or buying a treat, that’s fine, but be very clear about the rules. Be specific about how often, how much, how many, etc. Then stick to your own rules.
  4. React to procrastination – I know procrastination by its very nature is NOT reacting. If you find yourself procrastinating your diet and putting it off until Monday (again), it’s likely you’re feeling overwhelmed and that’s why you’re procrastinating. This is a sure sign that either your plan is too aggressive or you are focused on too much at once. Take small steps towards accomplishing what you need to and alter your plan if necessary.
  5. Write yourself a note from your future self – I know this sounds a little woo-woo, but this can be a great technique. Imagine you are now your future self and you are enjoying the life you had hoped for. As the future version of yourself, write a thank you note acknowledging the work, sacrifice, and challenges that the current you did. Be very specific. You can say something like, “Dear Current Self, thank you for working those extra shifts even when it meant missing out on some fun activities like the annual family picnic. Because of your sacrifices over those six months, I now don’t have to worry about bill collectors calling and stressing me out. I just wanted you to know your efforts paid off.” Then re-read this note whenever you need a little motivation to push through a tough moment.

It’s important to enjoy the moment now, but it’s also really helpful to not slack off and leave all the hard work up to our future selves.

In the comments section, share one thing you can do today that will support your future self.

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Comments

  1. I love the reminder about small steps! With so much going on in my life right now as I build this business, the overwhelming nature of it all makes me want to procrastinate.. but I keep telling myself, small steps. Sometimes I try to reflect on the small wins of a week.. Just keep swimming!… even if upstream at times

    • That’s how you do it, Pam. Remember, procrastination is NOT a sign of laziness, it’s a sign of overwhelm and stress. Chunking down (like you’re doing with your small steps) is the best remedy for this. Keep rockin’ on, Sister!!

  2. Christy says:

    I love the note from your future self. I’ve written a note to my past self, but I love the idea of taking it out in time. This is a really great list of tips for self-care. Thanks!

    • I’m so glad you liked it, Christy! It’s so easy to forget that our future self needs our help too. 🙂

  3. You’ve done it again April! Written a brilliant and instantly actionable post…you offer so much value and I take away wisdom every time I read a post of yours.

    I love the idea of writing a note from my future self to my present self! I am going to do that one for sure. I have been writing out a goal both personal and work related and then writing a baby step I can do daily for a 30 day sprint. The baby step is just one thing that moves me towards achieving my goal. It helps me take action when I start losing motivation and helps me get out of feeling overwhelmed.

    Awesome post as usual! Thanks brilliant lady.

    • Thanks so much, Jul’s! I’m so glad this resonated with you. Your baby steps are SO going to help you kick butt in your 30 day sprint!! Rock on, Lady!! <3

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