Be Kind to Your Future Self

I help many of my clients with prioritizing their time and getting things done. Naturally, the subject of procrastination comes up frequently. (For a quick video of me speaking about procrastination, see my web site.)

I’m reading a very interesting book right now with the amusing title, “The Big Thing: How to Complete Your Creative Project Even If You’re a Lazy, Self-Doubting Procrastinator Like Me.” Author Phyllis Korkki talks about procrastination in a way I hadn’t thought about before.

When you procrastinate, you indulge the whims of your Present Self at the expense of your Future Self. In her book, Korkki writes the following:

Christine Tappolet, a philosophy professor at the University of Montreal, has said that procrastination reflects a lack of concern for our future selves, to the point that we are willing to harm them in favor of our present selves. She writes, “Future selves are considered to be strangers, to whom one can pass the buck and impose a heavy and uncompensated burden.” As a way to combat this tendency, Tappolet proposed working actively to empathize with the fate of one’s future selves.

This perspective really spoke to me. How many times have I put off doing something, only to curse my behavior later on and wish that I had done it already so that I wouldn’t have to be doing it now?

Next time you find yourself procrastinating, try Korkki’s approach: “I should look at my future selves as coworkers I don’t want to let down . . . If I treated my work colleagues the way I treated my future selves, I would soon be fired for not doing my job. Why not give myself at least the same consideration I give others?”

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