Now Self versus Future Self

Do not disturb!

Do not disturb!

This morning, my alarm clock went off at its usual time, 8:10 AM (I know, I’m spoiled rotten. Thank you, work from home gods.) The sweet sounds of ukelele floated through the room as I pressed the blinking red “snooze” button on my iPhone, silencing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for a few more minutes (if you need a smile, listen to this song. I walked down the aisle to it!). As I snuggled into my pillow, I remembered I had the day off! As the joy of sleeping in filled my head with visions of pouncing through sleepy-cloud-land a bit longer, I remembered that Monday mornings I could go to a 9:30 Zumba class with one of my favorite instructors.

Suddenly, I was faced with a decision. I could stay in bed, curled up in my traveling gnome pajamas with a kitten wrapped around my head and a lazy tabby at my feet. I could enjoy my day off to the fullest by getting some extra Z’s, waking up later, around 10 AM, maybe even 11, with rays of sun peeking through the blinds. OR…. I could get out of bed, into the cold bedroom air, and put on my workout clothes. I could fill up my water bottle, grab my keys, and drive ten minutes to the gym, where I could jolt myself awake with loud latin music and screaming, sweaty women.

As I lay in bed negotiating with myself, I caught a glimpse of this book on my nightstand –The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It. This book was recommended to me by a friend, and I suddenly remembered one of the main points of this book – we all have a “now” self, and a “future” self. When we’re facing a willpower challenge, in my case, getting up and going to the gym, I tend to always think about my “now” self. My “now” self wants to stay in bed, to be lazy and warm, to not have to do any sort of ‘work’ on my day off. But what about my “future” self? My “future” self wants to fit into size 16 jeans, go on vacation to Thailand without fear of being ridiculed for my size, and to one day have healthy, happy pregnancies without being “high risk” because of my weight. My “future” self knows that I’ll feel great after a workout, and that’s the most important thing.

Seeing that book reminded me that I’d rather have what my “future” self was having – a healthier, happier future. So I got out of bed, into the cold bedroom air, put on my workout clothes, filled up my water bottle, drove to the gym, and jolted myself awake with loud latin music and screaming, sweaty women. My “future” self said “Thank You.”

When you’re faced with a decision, do you ever look at it as “now” self versus “future self”? You can also think about it like what would feel good now, versus what would feel good later. Most of the time, unless we’re really, really sick or emotionally not good, the “feel good later” will end up being the better deal. 🙂 What do you think?

10 thoughts on “Now Self versus Future Self

  1. Your brother and sister both practice the use of our “past selves and future selves”

    For example, the future April is always really happy when the past April does wise things like getting gas the night before an early wake-up or doing her math homework two days before it’s actually due. 😉

    However, future April was mad at past April for not picking up dog shit yesterday and instead she had to wake up and shovel shit at 8 am before the gardeners came for the house I’m petsitting at.


  2. I struggle with this all. the. time. I always remind myself that habits become character… but sometimes I don’t give a damn and I sleep in. #YOLO HAHA (this is funny to me because I never use/say yolo). hope you’re well on this gloomy day!

  3. i think everyone struggles with the now versus future!

    i know yesterday i was going through the same thing! but i decided i would be happier post work out then post dinner with no work out. good job for getting out of bed!!

  4. Sometimes future me and present me work in harmony, or at least reach a compromise. For example, when present me wants a beer but future me knows what it’ll do to my weight loss goal. They compromise by having present me ride my bike for 30 minutes before I can have a beer. What’s bad is when future me forces present me to ride my bike to work in the cold morning air so that he can have a beer after work.

  5. This post was great for my willpower! Thank you so much for the great perspective. 🙂 My future self would be really happy to walk away with some Diet Bet money and a healthier me. So my now self is just saying no to that tempting food in the kitchen here at work. 🙂

  6. I just finished “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. She talks about “short-term happiness” versus “long-term happiness” and how frequently, we make decisions out of a desire for short-term happiness that directly contradict our goals for long-term happiness (i.e. hitting snooze brings you immediate joy but fights the joy that you’ll feel when you’ve lost weight a week from now). These short-term decisions lead to general discontent because they only bring about a few minutes or hours of happiness.

    On the other hand, making choices like going to zumba feel painful in the moment, but bring about long-term happiness (the amazing feeling you get from realizing you lost weight that week). Long-term happiness, unlike short-term happiness, also tends to persevere throughout days, weeks, or months. For example, we only feel good about the donut we ate for 90 seconds while we’re scarfing it, then the short-term happiness dissolves. However, we feel good about having lost weight for a long time…often when we reach a weight loss goal, the rest of the week we feel charged, powerful, and sexy. However, you only lost that weight because you made goals with long-term happiness in mind; you turned down LOTS of opportunities for short-term joy (sleeping in, eating donuts, skipping the aerobics class, etc.)

    After having read the book, I often think “will this bring me long-term term or short-term happiness?” It’s amazing how often I’m able to turn down a bowl of ice cream or hitting snooze when I think, “this will make me happy right now, but being five pounds thinner will make me SO much happier next month.”

    Anyway, I guess it’s a long answer for “yes, I do think about my future self all the time.”


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