While doing my research the other day, I found a small mistake in one of my Excel spreadsheets. I tracked it down, realized that it was a minor issue with no impact on the results. Yet, it had to be corrected in several other spreadsheets because of future calculations. Relieved to find out that the mistake was insignificant, I thought (or, should I say, my monkey mind proposed): “That’s fine. I can fix this some other time.”

But then I remembered this great advice (thank you, Gretchen Rubin):

“If you want to be happy, make your future self happy.”

Will my future self be more diligent in fixing the mistakes that my today self can fix right now? Probably not. Will my future self be happy to work with neat and correct spreadsheets? Hell yes.

It was obvious what I should do next. (And I did it. It took me only five minutes.)

This is the perfect tweak in balancing our orientation towards the future and staying grounded in the present moment.

We often imagine our future self as a confident, superior person that exercises every day and does not bite his or her nails. We have romantic, idealistic visions of our future-selves, so much so that we easily forget that the future-self is actually ... us, only tomorrow. And if we don’t do something to support tomorrow-self, he or she will only be more nervous and distracted than today-self.

The Future (You) Is Now

Our future selves are built today, at this very moment. Thinking in that way will help you put your choices, actions, and habits in the right perspective.

Feeling too lazy to wash the dishes? Think about your future self. She would probably be happy to walk into the clean kitchen the next morning.

The seeds you are planting today will sprout for your future self.

Don’t want to deal with some email correspondence? Then your future self will have to. Open up space for her to do more important things.

Flossing? Yes, please. Your future self would love to have healthy teeth.

Exercise? Absolutely. It might be a bit uncomfortable for you, but your future self will have much more energy.

Meal prep on Sunday afternoon? Yup. Your future self will enjoy healthy meals and an open schedule throughout the week.

The seeds you are planting today will sprout for your future self. The mess you make today, your future self will have to clean. Everything you do now is an investment in the life and happiness of your future self.

Shine's Tip: Know You're Already Building Future You

So what do you want for future you? One way to find out: Recognize the little ways you subconsciously build your future self every day. In the past week, think of the tasks you've tackled to set yourself up for success. Maybe it was unpacking that suitcase, prepping your lunch for the week ahead, or even just wearing your retainer each night. Recognize how you're already creating future you—then build on it.

A version of this article originally appeared on Medium.

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