It’s pretty common on my business trips that I head out after dinner with friends, colleagues or vendors to a bar or club. And until recently, those nights usually ended a good deal later than normal, and certainly later than my body would’ve preferred. But a couple weeks ago, on a trip out to Miami, I made a very conscious decision each of the 3 nights I spent there, to get to bed at a decent hour.
Later that week, when I got back to town, I knew that I had a really busy schedule. Not to mention, my wife was taking care of our son and is pregnant, so already tired; and she definitely didn’t want to hear about my reasons for being exhausted.
I found myself saying to people when I was heading to bed, “I’d love to go out tonight but I’m just thinking 3 days out. Yes, it’s three days out, but I can’t afford to be suffering for the next couple days in the hope that I’m recovered 3 days out.”
And then I came to realize after the trip, that that state of thinking a few days out was becoming a habit, in 2 ways. First, I am continually thinking about what’s coming, not just what’s immediately in front of me, but what’s out a few days. And whether that affects what I eat or drink, or just how I prep, what’s happening a few days out is affecting my behavior. Second, there’s a realization, especially when it comes to food and drink, that the immediate gratification or feeling I get is far outweighed by how I want to feel afterwards – with food, sometimes it’s a matter of feeling horrible immediately after eating way too much. And alcohol, well, that doesn’t need much explaining.
Sure, a good amount of this shift has come from getting older, having more responsibilities, etc. but that doesn’t make it any less relevant or important. It has, in fact, caused me to re-examine my daily decisions and at least be more conscious of the longer-term impact of those decisions.
Life is certainly about moments, but that doesn’t mean that maximizing this exact moment should trump future ones.