Do the thing you don’t want to do. Future you is going to appreciate it.

Cindy JobsADHD In The Workplace, Health and Well-Being, Organization, Productivity

I just got back from an afternoon walk with my dog. We usually take our walks early in the morning. Sometimes we even greet the sunrise while out and about. Unfortunately, today was not one of those days. Instead, Rosie and I sat on the couch while I had a second cup of coffee.

Today I woke up a little later than usual and convinced myself I didn’t have time to take the morning walk (about 45 minutes). I told myself an afternoon walk would be just as good. I know better, and yet I could have done better. I’ve had the afternoon walk experience, and it’s not great. Present Me didn’t want to go for a walk. Present me wanted another cup of coffee.

When we walk in the morning, there are fewer cars and people. Walking early in the morning allows me to check the exercise box first thing. Both my dog and I are happier and more content throughout the day if we take a morning walk. If I don’t walk or exercise in the morning without a good reason, I feel a bit of guilt throughout the day.

When we walk in the afternoon, the experience is much less pleasant. There is more traffic and more people. The park is full of activity, so Rosie doesn’t have the same opportunity to stroll and smell the smells. I spend too much time worrying about speeding cars and inattentive people. Afternoon walks mean too much input and less presence. Although it was a beautiful afternoon for a walk, I wished I’d taken that morning walk instead.

When the afternoon rolled around, I wished the “morning me” had taken that walk. This a classic example of Present Me (morning me) not taking Future Me (afternoon me) into account.

As I considered other areas where Present Me doesn’t consider Future Me, these different scenarios popped into my head.

Unpacking after a trip:  Although I’m generally tired of traveling, super-happy to be home and spend time with my family. Present Me wants to curl up on the couch and enjoy being home. But she also knows that unpacking my suitcase will set Future Me up for success. When I don’t, my morning routine gets thrown out of whack.

Eating healthily:  I love bread. Unfortunately, bread does not love me. I used to have a breadmaker (remember when those were popular?) on the counter. Every Saturday night, I set the breadmaker up to have cinnamon bread ready at 7:30 AM, with a cube of butter sitting right next to the machine. Present Me would eat too much cinnamon bread that Future Me would have to exercise off. Now I’m much more conscientious about what I eat because I know Future Me doesn’t want to have to work that hard.

Work stuff: I’m still not as good at this as I’d like to be, but there are some tasks Present Me really doesn’t want to do. I try to power my way through them anyway because I’ve given myself permission to not work on Fridays. If Present Me procrastinates work stuff, Future Me will surely have to work on Friday.

These are only a few simple examples of how Present Me can screw up Future Me. My guess is that you have some similar ones of your own. 

What can you do to help out Future You? Pause and think, “what would Future Me want Present Me to do?” Sometimes it’s something small like putting down that piece of cake; sometimes, it’s much more significant, like living with a family member while saving money for a house. We are all faced with Present Me and Future Me decisions.

How will Present Me take Future Me into account tomorrow morning? I put a 3″x3″ sticky note on the mirror saying, “Future you will want to have walked in the morning.” How can you remind Present You that doing what you don’t want to do is right for Future You?


Cindy Jobs, PCAC, PCC

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