Think of your Future Self as a Dear Friend

Do you routinely procrastinate even small tasks? Do you have a hard time reaching goals and creating new habits? Do you beat yourself up about it?

Maybe it will help to think of your Future Self as a Dear Friend.

Why is self-care so hard sometimes? I find that most people (including myself) treat their friends better than they treat themselves. And give them better advice.

And why do we procrastinate? Because (for one thing) delayed gratification is hard! Most of us, at any given moment, would much rather do something to satisfy our current self than do what would benefit our future self.

I think self-care and procrastination go hand-in-hand.

Self-care experts suggest treating yourself as if you were a child, or a dear friend. All too often we criticize ourselves and feel guilty, instead of speaking to ourselves kindly and patiently, and doing what would be constructive or helpful.

Example: Having a frustrating work day.

Negative self-talk: I suck! But I have so much more work to do. Must…keep…going…

Caring advice to a Dear Friend: Oh, sweetie! Why don’t you take a break? Take a walk, get something to eat. Then come back to your work refreshed.

And procrastination experts advise thinking of your future self when deciding what to do next and what to let slide.

Example: Sink full of dirty dishes.

Thinking only of your Current Self: Ugh! I don’t feel like doing the dishes tonight. I’m going to bed!

Thinking of your Future Self: Remember how nice it is to wake up to a clean kitchen? I don’t want my Future Self to walk in and think, “Ugh” first thing in the morning! I think I’ll do the dishes right now and get it over with.

Example: Important project you’ve been putting off.

Thinking only of your Current Self: My brain hurts. I think I’ll just watch TV instead.

Thinking of your Future Self: OK, time to get clear about why this project is important (or eliminate or simplify it); break it down into do-able steps; ask for help if I need it; and get started.

Can you think of times when it would be helpful to think of your Future Self?

When would it be helpful to treat yourself as a Dear Friend?

Why do you think these things are so hard?

Please share with us in the comments below!

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Copyright 2018 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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Comments

  1. Great post, Hazel. I think I almost spend too much time thinking of my future self, and end up with a sort of “reverse procrastination.” I have trouble relaxing when there are still things to do. I think talking to myself as I would talk to a dear friend would be helpful in these cases. I agree that most of us treat strangers better than ourselves sometimes.

    • Well, you’ve got a point there. There’s a fine line between procrastinating and legitimately calling it a day, or saying, “that’s enough of that for now, let’s focus on something else for awhile”. I think the line is different for everyone, and that it depends partly on how you feel when you reach it. And I think it’s a matter of having a plan vs. winging it. (See my blog post “How to Live and Work by Design, not by Default) If your habit is to do the dishes each night, I think it’s fine to skip it once in a while. But it your habit is to leave them sitting out, and each morning you feel like crap because you did, then something needs to change. And if you’re working on a project (depending, of course, on how big it is, how important, and whether there’s a deadline) it could be that an hour, or a few action items, is “enough” for one day.

  2. Hazel,

    This is such a great prompt to “pay it forward” to your future self.

    I think those that struggle with self-care put unrealistic standards and expectations on themselves – and have been that way for a long time that it’s become a habit. So it’s tough to break the pattern but thinking as yourself as a dear friend could really help to stop that negative thinking cycle.

    At the start of the week is a great time to prepare for your future self, with reviewing your calendar and to-do list, meal planning, grocery shopping, planning out time for self care.

    Thanks for this wonderful reminder!

    Kathleen

  3. This is an insightful post Hazel! Funny, last night when I washed the dishes, I thought to myself, “This is a present to myself in the morning!” since I hate waking up to a messy kitchen. I am currently participating in a 30 days of self care challenge on social media. It is really helpful to make sure I do something for myself (or future self) each day.

  4. What a beautiful perspective to use the “future self” idea as a way of helping with our current choices, This is easier for me with some things more than others. I guess it’s a matter of the good or bad habits we’ve adopted. For me getting those dishes done and sink empty is no problem. I love doing anything water-related. Plus I love that “clear” or sense of completion I experience when the sink is empty, and things are back to square one. However, when it comes to sweets, it’s harder for me to consider my future self. At those moments, those Hershey Kisses look too good to pass up. Perhaps not the best snack choice for the future me. So it’s a push-pull between honoring and caring my future self, and not always doing that. This concept will help me going forward. Many thanks, Hazel.

  5. Oh, how I love this post. The little girl inside me twirls at the thought of thinking of my future self as a dear friend.

    So you’re saying to change my perception, rather than feeling guilty for something to give myself Grace, take a break and come back to it.

    I live this!

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