Present You should be taking care of Future You.


A few weeks ago, I was at work I always do, I was talking aloud to myself. "Thank you, Past Cass!" I said to my computer screen, giving a sigh of relief.

One of my coworkers turned around and said, "What?"

"Oh yeah, Past Me was looking out for Present Me. She wrote down all the notes about this job in detail and now I know what's going on so I don't need to stress about it."

My coworkers laughed at me, mostly because I'm a weirdo but also because they'd never really heard someone divide themselves into 2 separate people - Past and Present (and I guess future, too!)

This little interaction has stuck with me and I think one of the main reasons why is because I feel like lately, I've been putting off a lot of things I want to do now....for the benefit of Future Cass. And that's really, really hard. I'm not someone who is ever-patient. In fact, I would argue, I'm the opposite. I'm fairly impulsive and long-term goals have always seemed insurmountable to me.

But, here I am, playing the long game. And goddamn is it ever hard.

They call it delayed gratification and thanks to the marshmallow test, it's become kind of a litmus test on how able you are to stick with something thankless for a future reward. A lot of people around me lately seem to be making very short-term decisions and it makes me want to focus on the here-and-now also. 

Instead, C and I are hunkering down....which we'll be doing for another year here. Yes, we will be staying in this city that I'm not a huge fan of, so that C can get his career off the ground. He's been offered a great opportunity with the company he is currently working with and we want him to have experience in his field before we move. I'm making decent money right now and I've got a fairly good grasp on my job so I'm trying to stay in this position until we move. I have 1.5 months until my student loan is paid off....and then we're moving on to setting up our emergency fund....and then money for a down payment on a place. All boring, necessary steps to being OK financially within the next few years.

In the meantime though, I would like to move and get a dog. I'd like to go on lavish vacations. I'd like to buy new clothes and a new vehicle. I'd like to get a new TV...and a laptop...and maybe a new console. I'd like to go out to nice restaurants and go camping more.

But unfortunately, we only have so many dollars. And that means that we need to be smart with our money. That means that going for walks and hanging out on the beach close to home and window-shopping and budgeting are my ideas of fun at the moment.

So when I get those rumblings, I tell myself, "Future Cass will thank you for your sacrifices." It will pay off eventually. Making the boring decisions now will benefit future me.

So next time you have a decision to make, stop and think about Future-You. Will Future-You be happy with this decision or will it screw Future-You into the ground? Will you look back on everything with regret or with happiness? And then make your decision from that perspective. I think you'll be surprised by how this mentality alone can change how you see everything around you.