Don’t let ‘night guy’ dictate your life

Come­di­an Jer­ry Sein­feld explains ‘night guy’ per­fect­ly in this short You Tube clip.

Night guy’ is the voice in your head which shows up night­ly as you lie on the couch mind­less­ly flick­ing through the TV chan­nels con­vinc­ing you that:

  • the din­ner dish­es can wait until the morn­ing
  • find­ing your work­out gear can wait until 6am
  • you can stay up late to watch that movie or par­ty until the ear­ly hours with­out pay­ing a price in the morn­ing

I like to expand this metaphor to ‘future guy’ or ‘future self’.

My ‘future self’ is that myth­i­cal cre­ation who has more time, more ener­gy, more mon­ey and bet­ter habits (and of course is much bet­ter look­ing) than the cur­rent ‘me’.

How often do we think or say the fol­low­ing to our­selves?

  • I’ll be hap­pi­er when…
  • I’ll start the project when…
  • I’ll start exer­cis­ing when…
  • I’ll start sav­ing when…

We think that at some mag­i­cal point in the future, the stars will align and we’ll mag­i­cal­ly find our­selves in an ide­al state to achieve all of our goals.

And if we stop to real­ly think about this for a moment, we can begin to admit that this is in fact a fan­ta­sy. A fan­ta­sy that allows us to post­pone indef­i­nite­ly work­ing on our hap­pi­ness, secur­ing our finan­cial future, tak­ing care of our health or find­ing work that inspires us.

Most of us have decades of expe­ri­ence reflect­ing on whether we do actu­al­ly fol­low through on the com­mit­ments that we make to our­selves or to oth­ers. If we’re real­ly hon­est with our­selves, we know that if we don’t begin to take action now, then it’s increas­ing­ly unlike­ly to hap­pen in the future unless……

We change our habits

By devel­op­ing pow­er­ful habits which sup­port us in con­sis­tent­ly act­ing in ways that help pro­pel us for­ward, we can learn to drown out the voice of ‘night guy’.

So instead of:

  • Telling myself that I’m too tired to clean up after din­ner -> I auto­mat­i­cal­ly com­plete this task night­ly before bed. (So not only am I greet­ed by a tidy kitchen to start my day but I gain valu­able min­utes which helps ensure that I begin the day on the ‘right foot’)
  • Scram­bling for my work­out gear at 6am only to dis­cov­er that I can’t find my favourite shirt -> I take a few min­utes before bed to lay my work­out gear close to my bed, put a bot­tle of water in the fridge and pop my train­ers close to the front door
  • Wait­ing until I have £100 (pick your num­ber) left over at the end of the month to begin sav­ing -> I have my bank auto­mat­i­cal­ly trans­fer £100 to my sav­ings account at the begin­ning of each month (increas­ing that amount as I see my sav­ings grow, all the while chang­ing my per­cep­tion of myself from a spender to a saver)
  • Wait­ing for large blocks of time to open up to begin or work on that project -> I devel­op the habit of ‘just get­ting start­ed’ (devel­op­ing momen­tum from work­ing on my project(s) dur­ing small blocks of time)
  • Post­pon­ing my hap­pi­ness to some future date or mak­ing it depen­dent on the acqui­si­tion of some ‘thing’ or some out­come -> I devel­op the habit of con­scious­ly slow­ing down, remind myself to appre­ci­ate all that’s good about my life, spend less time com­par­ing myself to oth­ers and take con­sis­tent action on those things which are tru­ly impor­tant to me.

Now, as impor­tant as these actions are, we’re unlike­ly to brag about them on our Insta­gram or Face­book feeds (and it’s one good rea­son why the strat­e­gy of tak­ing small, con­sis­tent dai­ly actions tends to bypass so many of us).

How­ev­er, learn­ing to reject the impulse to keep defer­ring impor­tant tasks or behav­iours will force us to be more hon­est with our­selves about what we’ve already com­mit­ted to and to be sig­nif­i­cant­ly more real­is­tic about what is pos­si­ble to accom­plish on any giv­en day.  

As we imple­ment this process, we can become much clear­er about what we tru­ly val­ue and get bet­ter about opt­ing-out of many activ­i­ties and com­mit­ments that fill our sched­ules but which don’t bring us joy or ful­fil­ment. And turn­ing the above (and sim­i­lar) actions into habits allows us to devel­op sig­nif­i­cant momen­tum as we work towards our goals.

So, devel­op some pow­er­ful habits, learn to con­sis­tent­ly take imme­di­ate action

and ban­ish ‘night guy’ for­ev­er!

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