This past Monday was the season premiere of the last season of How I Met Your Mother.
I am a huge fan of the show (awesome cast + New York + hilarious story lines = gold). But I’m not here to talk about how awesome the show is. I want to talk about one of the show’s moments that stuck out to me. [Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling the most recent episode]
Early on in the series (Season 1, Episode 8 to be exact), roommates Ted and Marshall had to figure out who gets to keep their apartment once Marshall gets married. This was an issue they knew they had to talk about, but instead of figuring it out whenever the topic came up, they decided to just leave it up to “Future Ted” and “Future Marshall” to take care of it since they didn’t want to deal with it at the time. Ted eventually realizes that by postponing that uncomfortable conversation, the situation has become worse.
That scene made me think – what am I doing for Future Lisa? Am I making life easier or harder on the future me? I can tell you right now that Past Lisa, more specifically College Lisa, was not looking out for Future Lisa’s interests. In fact, College Lisa was only concerned with College Lisa’s reputation and material wants and not Future Lisa’s net worth or debt situation. That explains the huge pile of shoes and mess of clothes I have in my closet, and also my annoying credit card debt!
Damn it, Past Lisa!
A few months ago, I read an article by Mr. Money Mustache where he touches on the benefits of delayed gratification. MMM defines delayed gratification as:
the ability to put off immediate pleasure… for the purpose of getting even better results in the future.
In other words, delayed gratification is when you deny yourself something now in hopes that you’ll receive a better one in the future. He brings up a famous psychological study that looked at kids. Basically, the children were told that they would receive one cookie right now, OR, if they waited for a few minutes, they would receive two cookies. The results were recorded, but the study didn’t stop there. The researchers actually kept in touch with these kids and checked in with them periodically, even when they reached young adulthood. MMM summarizes the results:
As it turned out, the pleasure-delayers did better in school, graduated to get better jobs, and ended up in higher-paying careers as adults, with fewer debt problems.
The results of this study are so telling of the benefits of delayed gratification! Not only did these kids get two cookies instead of one, they also had better grades, careers, and better financial situations later on in life.
I know I’m not the only on who is avoiding uncomfortable situations (and yes, waiting counts as an uncomfortable situation). But when we embrace the discomfort, we reap benefits which we may not be able to see until days, months, or – in the case of these kids – years from now.
So, are you…
- Frustrated with a certain person? Your future self will thank you for taking care of it, whether it be by talking it out or finding a way to deal with it.
- Tired of paying off debt? Your future self will thank you when you send in that last payment.
- Too lazy to exercise? Your future self will thank you when you finally reach your weight/fitness goals.
- Avoiding money talk with your significant other? Your future self will thank you when your goals are aligned and your money stresses are gone.
- Sick and tired of being sick and tired? Your future self will thank you when you schedule in some “me” time.
Don’t disappoint the Future You! Do something about your current situation so that your Future Self will thank you instead of curse you.
What are you doing today for the benefit of Future You?