“Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”
Sean Patrick Flanery
You’ve probably heard this quote before, but do you actually practice this sentiment in your own life?
In today’s culture of instant gratification, remembering to do your future self a favor has become ever more complex. With such easy access and multiple options for just about everything these days, there isn’t a sense of urgency to plan or think ahead.
No plans Saturday night? There’s always Netflix, Hulu, or even a virtual hangout.
Chat with your friends? Choose phone, text, social media, or try a retro face-to-face get-together.
Forgot to prep for dinner tonight? Thank goodness for DoorDash!
With such convenience at your fingertips, why should you want to plan ahead and do something for your future self? Well, for many reasons, actually.
Why should you do things for your future self?
Doing things for your future self positively impacts multiple areas of your life, from nurturing your mental health to encouraging long-term habits.
Wear your confidence on your sleeve
By doing something today to help your future self, you will automatically feel like you have your ducks in a row. This feeling of accomplishment helps foster confidence and productivity in the future.
Let’s think back to your high school years to illustrate this point. If you had a huge presentation in class that you spent time outlining your talking points and practicing for, would you feel more or less confident than if you hadn’t prepared at all? A lot more confident!
Just this simple habit of preparing in advance provides confidence that you are in control of the situation, whether it’s your Junior year science presentation or an interview for your dream job in your adult years.
Beat the procrastination cycle
Procrastination is a self-fulfilling prophecy; the longer you put something off, the harder it is to begin. The solution to combat the procrastination cycle is fairly simple —you must DO THE THING.
By doing the thing in advance (or, at least, before it’s urgent), you avoid the negative procrastination cycle AND actually beat it before it has its chance to rear its ugly head. No more dreading THE THING, stressing about THE THING, or beating yourself up about not doing THE THING. It’s already done.
While that sounds simple, it is most definitely not an easy practice to implement. The easiest way is to start small and tackle easy tasks. Not only will you thank yourself later, but you can also ride that wave of positive momentum to tackle bigger and more pressing tasks.
Which leads me to …
The power of positive momentum
“When deciding how to spend our time, energy, or money, thinking of our future-selves can help us to avoid feelings of regret and set ourselves up for feelings of satisfaction.” -Gretchen Rubin
Consistently making proactive and beneficial decisions for your future self increases the likelihood of repeating those actions over time. This scientific concept of diagnostic utility indicates that making decisions with a known beneficial outcome (i.e. a favor to your future self!) and then following through positively impacts your self-perception. Once you’ve affirmed your capability, you’re more likely to do it again and again and again —resulting in a consistent pattern of positive habits.
For example, a former couch potato begins a daily practice of taking a morning walk. After repeating the daily habit several days in a row, they will then perceive themself to be a more active individual and thus continue to make physical activity a part of their lifestyle.
The moral of this concept? Trick yourself into forming good habits by purposely pursuing things that your future self will thank you for.
How can you do things for your future self?
There are countless ways to help your future self. The primary objective is to take the opportunity to do something today that you know you will appreciate down the road.
You can do something that will impact your productivity, your mindset, your physical health, or your financial well-being. You can do a one-time favor to yourself, or start a consistent habit that will accumulate benefits over time. The possibilities are literally endless.
Embrace the decisions and actions you can every day to help out your future self. I promise she’ll be thankful!
What can you do today that my future self will thank you for?
So, if you love this concept of doing something today that you will thank yourself for later, let’s go through these 25 ideas to help you get started.
- Don’t buy what you don’t need! – To avoid impulse buys, tell yourself you can purchase a non-essential item —but only after 3 days. Chances are, you won’t end up buying most items.
- Prioritize daily – Take 5 minutes at the end of work every day to set daily priorities for the next workday. You’ll be prepared and ready to go when you start work the next day!
- Gifting ahead – Always have a running gift idea list in a note or document accessible from your phone. The next time your kid, partner, parent, or friend mentions an item or service they are interested in, quickly find it online and save the URL to your running list for easy gift shopping when you need it.
- Start the thing – Just start that task you’re likely to avoid, even if you can’t finish it in one sitting. Create the outline for your next presentation at work. Declutter one room (or one part of the room!). Take a five-minute walk instead of avoiding a 20-minute jog. The hardest part is always starting.
- Dinnertime plan – Do your meal planning and make your grocery list once a week. If you and your family love going out or ordering takeout, build that into the schedule —but by creating a plan for most of your meals, you can avoid that last-minute dinner scramble.
Do you want a copy of my weekly meal planner printable?
- Take a mental health break – When you feel yourself getting angry or emotional, walk away from the situation. Take a breather and clear your head. You’ll feel better after a break, and you might just avoid doing/saying something you would regret.
- Necessities on schedule – Set up your household necessities on a delivery schedule so that you never have to worry about running out. Thanks to Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program, our house is never without TP or laundry detergent, and we save money with the discount!
- Consume wisely – Don’t have that extra cookie or adult beverage that you know you don’t really need. It’s never worth it.
- Gym prep – Prepare your gym clothes, gym bag, and water bottle the night before. Don’t give yourself an excuse to crawl back in bed or go home after work by making the transition to gym–mode easy peasy.
- Leave things ready to go – Prep things to use the next time you need them before you’re done. Fill up your gas tank on the way home. Wash or dry clean all your seasonal clothing before storing it in the off-season. Clean out the kid’s school bags before throwing them in the closet for winter break or summer.
Trust me on this one.
Sincerely, regretful mother who found month-old chicken chili in her child’s backpack
- Notes to-go – Always have a way to jot down notes and ideas, whether a little notepad in your purse or a productivity app on your phone like ClickUp or Evernote. This way, you won’t have to remember it, and you’ll never lose those spur-of-the-moment ideas.
Have you tried it yet?
- Bedtime routine – Create your own nightly bedtime routine to transition into sleep. Cut off the TV and electronics, read a book, listen to a meditation app, do some light stretching or yoga, or curl up in bed and talk with your partner to wind down.
- Get emotional – Take time every day to reflect on your emotions. Write in a journal, talk with a loved one, or enjoy a few quiet moments to yourself to ponder how you’re feeling. The first (and arguably most important) step to emotional intelligence is understanding your emotions.
- Savings on autopilot – Set up an automatic deposit from every paycheck to your savings account. You don’t even have to think about saving, plus you won’t be tempted to spend those funds.
- An ordered arrival – Plan for your arrival home before you go on a long trip or vacation. Make sure the house is tidy. Get your calendar in order for when you return. Order grocery delivery so you don’t return to an empty fridge (for long).
- Pack it up – Going on a weekend trip or a vacation? Create a comprehensive packing checklist to make packing a breeze every time.
Are you trying to get organized for an upcoming trip?
Sign up for our free newsletter and I’ll email you a copy of our travel itinerary + packing checklist.
- HBD on file – Put important people’s birthdays on your calendar with a reminder one week ahead and the date of. Never forget to send a card or send them a text to let them know you’re thinking of them.
- Schedule Free Time – Take time quarterly to block time off from work for the next quarter. Coordinate with your children’s school schedule and holidays, plan with your partner, and put it on the calendar.
- Nightly tidy – Clean up the kitchen, bedrooms, and living spaces, and set out clothes for the next day every night. It won’t make getting out of bed any easier, but it will make your whole morning routine much less stressful.
- Funds away – Start a retirement account or a college fund for your kids NOW. Set a savings goal for every month, whether big or small, and stick to it. It’s never too late to save for the future.
- Rest Day – Let yourself off the hook on those days that you don’t feel well or really just need a break. You’ll feel better and be more productive after some much-needed self-care.
- You can account on me – Find an accountability partner for your next lifestyle, financial, or fitness challenge. Having someone you can count on and commiserate with is key for those days when you don’t wanna.
- Document your goals – Write your future self an email and type out the goals you want to accomplish in 3 months, 1 year, and 5 years. Tuck it away in a special folder and set a reminder to read it later. The act of documenting your goals and knowing you will see them later gives you an internal motivation to accomplish them.
- Big steps for big impact – Do the hard or scary thing that you know will help your future. Sign up for that seminar to further your career. End the relationship that you know just isn’t right. Endure the painful moments of your child throwing a fit as you establish healthy rules and boundaries. Push through the rough patch now to reap the benefits later.
- Accept who you are – Love yourself for who you are and stop wishing to be someone you’re not. You will thank yourself later for not wasting any more of your precious time.
Just start —you’ll thank yourself later
So now you know why and how you should do your future self a favor; plus, you have 25 ideas to try today! But if you’re still struggling to put this new proactive lifestyle habit into practice, let me share the real trick.
Just start. Start small, start easy —but just start. Once you try this practice in your own life, you’ll see opportunities to help your future self out everywhere, and it will get easier every time.
Doing something for your future self is a habit you will never regret, and I promise you’ll thank yourself later.
What things do you do to help your future self out? Are you thankful after the fact? Share your experiences in the comments below!