Thinking about life as a story helps keep the right now in perspective. It is a way to think about now in light of the past and of the future.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. If I am a character in a story, and if that story continues past this moment, then what I do now shapes what happens next in my story. Pretty simple, yet pretty revolutionary.
Instead of thinking about what Right-Now Me wants, think about what Future Me will want.
My son, Right-Now Me usually wants to gratify its own appetites, but Future Me regrets such indulgences. Choose well right now for the sake of Future Me. Will Future Me want to play with friends later? Then Right-Now Me needs to complete its work in a timely fashion. Don’t let Right-Now Me squander Future Me’s time and opportunities through dawdling.
Myself, Right-Now Me always wants to make the easy choice and indulge itself. Future Me wants to wear a smaller dress size and feel energetic. Future Me wants a reasonably tidy house and dinner on time. Future Me wants to be a happy mom with happy children. For Future Me to get what she wants, Right-Now Me has to choose the path of Right-Now sacrifice in the hope of future glory and grace.
Instead of thinking about how Right-Now Me feels, think about changing what Future Me will feel.
My son, Right-Now Me feels the lessons and the work is never-ending, but it is only acting on that feeling (by not acting on your work) that will make that feeling true. Right-Now Me can feel that way, but Future Me doesn’t have to if you persist diligently despite your feelings.
Myself, Right-Now Me likes to feel sorry for itself and stay stuck in self-pity and frustration because it’s easier than rolling up one’s sleeves and getting down to business. But Future Me will appreciate that tackling not only because it will be done, but because it is how self-pity and blues are defeated.
Instead of thinking about where Right-Now me is, think about where you want Future Me to be.
My son, Right-Now Me is a child. Future Me will not be. Future Me happens in a straight line from Right-Now Me; there is no magical transformation that occurs at 12 or 16 or 18 or 20. The choices Right-Now Me makes shapes who Future Me will be. If you want, when you are grown, to be strong, you must practice now. If you want, when you are grown, to be wise, you must learn now. If you want, when you are grown, to play the piano for Sunday mornings, you must practice your scales daily now. What you want in the future, practice for now.
Myself, everything Right-Now Me does is a seed which will bear fruit which Future Me must eat. Is Right-Now Me planting for a harvest of peace and joy or of heartache and toil?
Make choices based on writing a better story for Future Me, rather than indulging Right-Now Me’s appetites.
Thanks, Kirsti, for the idea of “future me” that this post was based on.