In college, I maxed out a credit card at a dive bar.
A dingy, dirty hole-in-the-wall, Ryan’s had $3 pitchers of Bud Light and cheap tacos on Thursday nights. I spent way too much time and money there.
Handing my credit card to the bartender at the end of a long night, I often said to friends, “Future Jonathan’s got this. That guy is the best.”
I’m not making this up. I actually said that.
Future Jonathan paid off the balance eventually, but he was not amused.
It’s a little unusual, but I find this idea of thinking about our future selves as separate people to be both interesting and useful. It’s a good way to look at our choices:
What are we doing to our future selves?
How will Future You feel about Present You?
You’re Either Helping or Hurting Future You
There’s really no standing still. Every day, we’re either setting our future selves up for success or failure in a bunch of different areas.
I try to ask myself the following question regularly (and I don’t always like the answer):
If I keep up my current daily practices, without kidding myself, where will I be in ten years?”
— Jim Rohn
If I don’t exercise and manage my eating (and drinking) habits, I’m setting up Future Jonathan for health problems (and maybe even a shorter life).
If I don’t manage my finances carefully, I’m signing up Future Jonathan for a life with fewer options.
If I don’t consistently read and learn additional skills, I’m robbing Future Jonathan of opportunities I can’t even see yet.
We know we shouldn’t just do what feels good right now, but too often we don’t give much thought to why. Thinking about how Future You will feel about Present You helps make things a little more real.