It’s funny how we can be so short-sighted sometimes that we’ll sacrifice the future for the sake of the present, as if the future were happening to someone else.
In one of his classic stand-up bits, comedian Jerry Seinfeld lamented the short-sightedness of “Night Guy”:
“I stay up late at night because I’m Night Guy. Night Guy wants to stay up late.
“What about getting up after five hours of sleep?
“Oh, that’s Morning Guy’s problem. That’s not my problem. I’m Night Guy. I stay up as late as I want.
“So, you get up in the morning … your alarm … you’re exhausted, groggy …
“Oh, I hate that Night Guy!”
Likewise, in an episode of “The Simpsons,” Marge tries to warn Homer that he’ll regret not having spent enough quality time at home with his family when his kids are grown.
Homer replies: “That’s a problem for Future Homer. Man, I don’t envy that guy.”
So, how about Future You? Do you envy that guy? Or might you benefit from putting a little more thought into how your actions and efforts in the present will impact your future self?
Here are a few simple ways to make Morning Guy and Future You much happier.
You’re tired at night and perhaps you just want to flop on the couch and unwind until bedtime, but before you do, take a few minutes (and that’s all it’ll really take) to go around your home and tidy up. Put everything in its place so that tomorrow you wake up to a clean slate and you won’t find yourself frantically looking for your keys as you try to rush out the door.
Program Your Coffee Maker
It’s like a gift to your future self: Take the time to prepare your morning coffee, or whatever essential morning beverage or breakfast you prefer, the night before.
There are many strategic ways to save and invest your money. However, the simplest way to establish a habit of saving is to set up your bank’s checking account so that it automatically transfers some amount of money—even a very modest amount—into your savings account on a regular basis, whether that’s weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Then, forget all about it and go about your life.
You likely won’t even notice the absence of cash on hand, but it will add up quickly and your future self will surely be grateful for it.
Get to Bed Early
Remember Morning Guy and make sure to get substantial, quality sleep each night. For the best sleep, make sure you’re not staring at your phone or another blue-light screen right before bed. Keep the temperature in your home on the cool side and get yourself to bed at roughly the same time each night.
Each time you make the effort to prepare a meal, prepare much more than you immediately need. Set aside leftovers for packed lunches and repurposed ingredients for the rest of the week. You’ll find that the effort required to make more of what you’re already making isn’t very significant, but will reap rewards for days to come.
Before the end of the day, take a moment to glance at your calendar and see what’s on the agenda for tomorrow. Make a simple, short to-do list to guide you through your day. Lay out the clothes you’ll need and set out any bags or items you’ll need on hand the next day. When you wake up prepped and ready, you’ll feel on top of your game.
Book Something Fun
All work and no play is not what your future self wants. Get something fun or inspiring to look forward to on your calendar. Book a trip, make dinner reservations for a special occasion, plan a get-together with loved ones, or commit to an inspiring project. Having something great on the horizon is not only a joy to look forward to but also tends to create a higher level of engagement in life leading up to the big event.