Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Future Self

This is a metaphor that Des and I have started to use frequently. Or maybe not a metaphor, but a turn of phrase, a way of reframing thoughts so that we can make better decisions. It goes kind of like this:

You have three selves. Your past self, your current self, and your future self.

Now, my current self used to worry a lot about himself. He stole from my future self so he could get better stuff. He spent a lot of time complaining about what a bastard his past self was, stealing all his time and money. But he didn't worry much about his future self, because he was sure that guy would be in a much better position and would be able to afford all the money he was borrowing.

Here is a diagram of this:

In case it's not clear, let me explain the metaphor a bit. I would bitch and moan about the bad decisions I made, and how I wish I hadn't eaten out so much last month, because I needed that money now. I'd berate myself for having made such a horrible decision. At the same time I'd use credit cards or student loans to buy things, including eating out and other frivolities. That's what I mean by stealing money from my future self -- when you take on debt that's what you're doing. When you put off chores that's what you're doing. You're assuming your future self will somehow have more money and time than your present self. And if you're wrong, you just do it again. And again. And your future self never gets anything. Poor future self...

Making procrastinating and piling up debt are kind of mean things to do to our future self. Pretty soon, we'll be that future self, and look back and wonder why our past self is such a selfish jerk. So we got to thinking, right? Wouldn't our current self be enjoying life more if our past self would just show it a bit more love? Maybe our future self would appreciate it if we sent it a little present every now and then?

Here is a diagram of what I try to do now:

So when we exercise, it's a gift to our future self. When we save money, it's so our future self can have an easier time, and maybe a bit of fun. When I do the dishes the night before, it's so I can have a nice clean kitchen the next morning. When we don't buy a new electric gizmo, it's so our future self can have a camping trip.

And you know what? I like life a lot better when my past self stops being such a jerk. When he sends me presents, I get to open them and be happy. All I have to do is show a little love to my future self, and everything is so much more tolerable. I end up with less debt, less guilt, and more fun.


At December 16, 2011 at 7:21 AM , Blogger namleips said...

Huh. I uploaded the pictures back when I posted it. Wonder where they went.


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