This article is an extension of an earlier post: “LATER” Never Comes.
There’s a great scene in the show How I Met Your Mother when best friends Ted and Marshall discuss who should get their beloved apartment once Marshall gets married.
Rather than hashing out the difficult topic, they gallantly decide that today’s not the right day for the discussion. Ted’s reply is memorable: “You know who I think could handle a problem like that? ‘Future Ted’ and ‘Future Marshall.’” Marshall’s response: “Totally. Let’s let those guys handle it.”
Unfortunately, I relegate big decisions, projects, and personal goals to “future me” way too often. It’s so easy to put things off until tomorrow, and I naively believe that “future me” will handle it.
For a long time, I did this with writing. I knew I wanted to write and aspired to be an author. It was a goal, but I did nothing with it.
Thankfully, my friend Alex set me straight last summer. While we were discussing career goals, I shared my goal of being an author and talked about the types of books I wanted to write.
Alex asked how much I had been writing lately. I sheepishly replied, “Not much, but I want to write more.”
I will never forget Alex’s response. He said, “I don’t know much about writing, but what I do know is that if you want to be a writer, you have to write.”
How right he was!
In my head, I had already taken up the mantle of “writer” without putting in any effort. I stole the title, lumping myself in with all of the deserving souls who had sweated droplets of ink for years to earn that title.
After I got over the initial blow to my ego, I resolved to actually do the work. I realized that each of us is truly defined by what we do TODAY — not who we aspire to be tomorrow.
Here’s what that looks like…
If you want to become a writer, define success by whether you’re writing TODAY. If you don’t have the courage to write today, you are not a writer. You are “a person who wants to write someday.”
If you want to become a gifted public speaker, define success by whether you found a way to practice that skill TODAY. Did you volunteer for leading a team training? Did you speak up during a big company meeting?
If you’re trying to lose weight through diet and exercise, define success by whether you ate well and exercised TODAY. Become the type of person who goes to the gym TODAY rather than saying you’ll go tomorrow.
Don’t leave the tough decisions up to “future you.” “Future you” is actually a pretty lazy person. Don’t trust “future you” with anything!
I think the world would be a much happier, more productive place if there weren’t as many “future you’s” out there.