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Don’t Rely on Your "Future Self" (TESTHEAD)

On December 21, 2011, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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For those who are familiar with my Personal Blog (mostly inactive now that I spend most of my writing time on TESTHEAD), I have a number of posts related to handling money and avoiding debt. I avoid debt for many reasons, but the biggest reason is that I do not trust the entity that I call my “Future Self”.

My Future Self is implicit in any arrangement I make. Of course, I have only the best of intentions with My Future Self (I don’t think any of us want to consider we will be slothful or shiftless or unreliable). Still, the truth is, My Future Self is just not as reliable and as pliant as I want him to be, and this gets more obvious the further out I look. Sorry for bringing this up again, but this point was really drilled home to me this summer. I had lots of plans that related to getting in shape so that I could consider making a shot at a “Legend’s” division competitive run in the United States of America Snowboarding Association South Lake Tahoe Series once again (it has been several years since I competed, and I had high hopes I’d be able to get back on that horse again). Well, my bone breaks scuttled that plan thoroughly, certainly for this year. Imagine if I had bought a season pass and new gear with the hope I would be competing this winter! I would have made those purchases based on a Future Self that never materialized (and could not materialize).

When I take out debt (financial, technical, or other nature) I am, likewise, putting My Future Self on the hook to take care of it. In all cases, this involves interest (whether it’s codified as an interest rate or not, any decision put off until later costs in extra money, extra effort, or extra emotions, bet on it). When I was younger, especially, I was much more willing to spend and pay later. I had the attitude of “So what, it’s only money, I can always make more!” Well, yes and no. With small amounts, it’s true, but did I really want to tie myself down to potentially a lot of work and effort later on for an experience or a memory that may not even be relevant those months, or years, later?

I have a back log of books that I have to read. Yes, have to, because I made a verbal agreement to review them. Many of them have been provided to me for free, and therefore, I have made a “gentlemen’s agreement” to work through them. Thus, I have made sure that My Future Self must put aside the time to read, work, ponder and reason his way through them. If he does not, then he goes back on his word. That is something I do not want to see My Future Self (or My Current Self, frankly) ever have to do. No matter how I look at it, this is time I must spend on a verbal commitment. Of course, I believe this will be beneficial, a good investment both in the way of knowledge and experience, and I will have an additional artifact for others to look at and decide if they will consider it worth their time to read for themselves. Still, it’s a process that depends on me carving out time to do it, and often, it feels like that time is harder and harder to come by.

In some ways, I think that “time debt” is the most dangerous of debts, even more so than monetary or technical debt (they are all intertwined, of course). This is, I’m sure, sounding ironic coming from me, someone who prides himself on being “frequently busy” engaged in many endeavors. It’s one thing to be doing a lot of stuff. It’s quite another to put ourselves into a time debt that we will never be able to effectively manage or eliminate. Additionally, there’s no way to bank, stretch or ration time. You can’t save up time to use on a rainy day; everyone gets the same 84,600 seconds; 1,400 minutes; and 24 hours as everyone else. Time can only be used, and any time we decide to do one thing, we are deciding not to do something else… and really, get the thought of “multi-tasking” out of your head. I do not believe humans can do it effectively. Even super fast computers don’t actually multitask; they split their attention among a large number of processes and cycle through them. It’s an illusion, and an expensive one when scaled out to a human life.

Consider this my way, both during this end of 2011 and beginning of 2012, to encourage everyone to “honor thy energy” (with thanks and pre-apologies to Merlin Mann 😉 ), and please, do what you can to inconvenience and engage Your Present Self as much as possible, and don’t overburden Your Future Self. They have enough working against them as it is without our help!

 

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