What Would Your Future Self Think?

Last week while driving to Melbourne, Florida with my brother Wil for a friend’s bachelor party we started talking about politics. Melbourne is about an hour and a half long drive from Orlando, and the discussion segued from politics to personal responsibility, to health care, to nutrition and diet, to disciplined eating and deferring gratification. While talking about ways people could improve their self discipline and make better choices, Wil suggested that before you do something you should consider whether if your future self were standing there watching would they give you a high five or look at you disapprovingly and say, “What the fuck?!”

This reminded me of a scene in the movie Timecop starring Jean Claude Van Damme where the villain, Senator Aaron McComb, illegally travels back in time to warn his younger self to not sell his share of a company whose microchip will earn him billions of dollars. During the scene McComb says to his younger, leaner self, “…will you do me a favor? Will you lay off the fucking candy bars?”

Ron Silver as the villain Senator Aaron McComb in Timecop

The next time you are tempted to choose the momentary enjoyment of consuming too much of a favorite food or drink when it is counterproductive for your long term goals, imagine your fatter, sloppier future self looking at you disapprovingly, saying, “What the fuck?!” When you resist that temptation imagine your leaner, better looking future self raising their hand to give you a high five.

The next time you’re doing an exercise and your muscles are on fire, your heart is pounding so hard you hear it echoing in your skull, and you’re gasping for breath and you’re tempted to quit instead of giving your best effort, imaging your smaller, weaker self looking at you disapprovingly, saying “What the fuck?!” When you resist that temptation and continue to work through it, imagine your bigger, stronger self smiling and nodding approvingly (because you don’t high five someone doing an exercise).

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