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!