What Would Future Me Do?

Yesterday as I began getting ready for work I noticed that several dishes had piled up in the sink. It wasn’t horrible but it was enough to make me sigh. I’d have something else to do once I returned home late that night.

Something caused me to pause: What would future me do in that situation? I asked myself.

Future me glanced at her watch. She’d started getting ready a few minutes early. If she hustled, she could knock out the dishes and still leave for work in time.

I grinned and got started. Once the dishes were done I realized that the trash needed to be taken out as well. Future me would definitely want that out of the way.

But I paused. I always run a scoop through the litterbox before I take out the trash; did I have time for all of that? I glanced at my watch again. The time was fast approaching for me to leave but if I hurried I might be able to get it done.

I double-timed the scooping, changed the trash bag, and carted it outside as I waited for the dogs to do their business. To my surprise, they apparently sensed my energy because they hurriedly did their thing.

I not only managed to complete some tasks that needed doing, I managed to scoot out the door in plenty of time to walk to work.

I might be on to something here. Normal me would have let it slide until I returned home from work — or procrastinated until my next day off, which is a common occurrence if I’m tired. By considering the issue from the eyes of the person I wish to become, however, the paradigm shifted. As a result of that shift, I accomplished more than I expected.

I will definitely have to experiment.

Have you ever looked at a situation from the eyes of the person you wish to become? Please share your stories in the comments below.

An Experiment in Luxury

It is amazing how quickly things can work out when you create an intention. Shortly after challenging myself to reverse the Diderot Effect in my personal life a friend came over to visit. Her granddaughter was moving in with her; did I happen to have any old children’s movies that I would consider selling on the cheap?

I pulled out my binders to examine my DVD collection. My Katie had been quite fond of Barbie movies and the like; I had built up quite the collection over her childhood. She selected several of them along with an assortment of other movies that she thought she would enjoy personally and we sat down to negotiate.

She left with a tidy stack of movies fifty dollars later.

I was fifty dollars richer; what should I do with the money? I thought about investing it but then remembered my challenge. I’d just written about how I would like to find some way to treat myself that wouldn’t hurt my budget; in a stroke of sheer luck, I now had fifty dollars that hadn’t been accounted for.

What could I buy for fifty dollars that I would never allow myself to normally purchase? Was there something that I wanted that wasn’t functionally necessary but that I dreamed of owning just the same?

I drew a blank. I’d become so conditioned to living cheap that I could not think of a single thing so I took the question to my daughter.

“What about that guestbook you’ve been admiring at Biancke’s for years?” she suggested. “Every time we go in there you flip through the pages and drool over it; I can’t count how many times I’ve heard you say that it would make the perfect journal.”

An image of the book immediately popped in my head. A large, well-bound book, it features numbered, lined pages that I had admired for decades. The restaurant had encouraged guests to sign in on every visit since I was a teenager and they had used the exact same style for as long as I could remember.

I had even asked where they bought their replacements once. I’d priced it and immediately choked at the cost.

It was far too much to spend on the luxury of journaling.

But now? Now I wanted something completely decadent. I wanted to allow myself a luxury so outrageous that it bordered on ridiculous.

And I wanted to do it on a fifty dollar budget.

Convinced that I’d never be able to afford it, I allowed the kid to persuade me to walk down to the restaurant for a closer examination. I was certain that it was out of my league but what would it hurt to look? If anything, I would find that book above my station and treat myself to a Moleskine.

I’ve never allowed myself to indulge in a Moleskine.

We braved the curious looks from the workers as we examined the heavy tome. Armed with the brand and model, we headed home to price one.

Ouch! Just as I anticipated, the book was almost $100.

“Maybe I should buy a cheap washer instead,” I suggested as I went to close out the tab.

“You’re always doing that!” Katie snapped. “You’ve wanted that thing for years–don’t tell me you haven’t! Buy something nice for yourself for a change! You’ve bitched about how thin the paper was in composition notebooks for ages. You’ve bitched about how you dislike journaling on the computer and now you’ve got fifty bucks that you can use to fix the problem. Let’s see what we can find!”

She shoved me out of the chair and hijacked the computer. Flipping over to the purchasing options, she discovered that Amazon had some for sale minus their original packaging.

The price was $53 after tax.

I allowed myself to buy that book. I can’t believe I did it, to be honest. I allowed myself to purchase something completely decadent and amazingly expensive, simply because I wanted it.

But oh my, it is absolutely beautiful.

It is beautiful. It is decadent. It is a completely selfish luxury. It is 512 pages of journaling bliss and I can’t believe the fact that it is actually mine.

It is the first real extravagance I’ve allowed myself for longer than I can remember.

I’ll have to conserve the pages. It cost too much to treat it lightly but in exchange, every time I use it I will be reminded of the fact that it’s okay to have nice things if you can afford them. It’s okay to treat myself on occasion.

It’s okay to want to improve my life.

Have you ever treated yourself to a completely ridiculous luxury? Please share your stories in the comments below. I need to christen this journal before I lose my nerve and send it back.

The Art of Focusing on Who You Want to Be

The simple act of saying “stop” has benefited me immensely. For the first time in months, I felt an internal peace that speaks volumes in the silence. The frantic chatter in my mind has ceased now that I have given myself permission to just wait.

As I mulled over the changes in myself over the years the shock slowly eased. I see no point in criticizing the decisions I made in the past. I simply need to accept them, adjust my course, and move on.

The force of habit caused my mind to turn to my goal of financial independence. I’ve had goals for so long that it is hard to let them go. Just the simple goal of survival has been so much a part of me over these past decades that I feel a bit lost now that I’ve pressed pause, and that’s okay. There is a danger in moving too soon. I know that now but I am also aware of the fact that I need something to focus on in the meantime while I sort my emotions.

But what?

One by one the ideas came. One by one I dismissed them. Each and every idea was a plan, a goal–and goals are something I need to avoid for the time being.

It was only when I reached the point when I had to order myself to stop thinking about it that I finally worked things out. Instead of focusing on what I can do, why not focus on who I want to be?

No plans, no goals, no grand schemes. No major changes. Just close my eyes, envision who I want to become in the future, and start making tiny steps in that direction.

Have you ever allowed yourself to focus on the person you want to become? Please share your stories in the comments below.