Updated January 2022
I’m pretty sure it’s a small sliver of the population who really celebrates Valentine’s Day with the iconic chocolates, flowers, fancy dinner, etc. I mean…that’s pretty much people in new relationships trying to impress each other, right?
But what are the alternatives?
Post anti-Valentine’s Day stuff to Facebook?
Sit at home with that person you’ve been dating for six years, talking about how much the price of flowers is artificially inflated during this unnecessary consumerist extravaganza, and let’s just make some pasta and watch TV?
Buy yourself some chocolates and eat them all? That might be fun, but if you wait until tomorrow, all the chocolate goes on sale.
Our suggestion is: make your future self your valentine.
I’ve done a lot of talking about future selves, but my main points are always:
1) You can’t know exactly what your future self will want. According to Daniel Gilbert in Stumbling On Happiness, we are really, really bad at predicting what our future selves will want. (Also according to Gilbert, we all think we are more different from the average person than we really are. Would you enjoy living by the water and commuting to the city when you’re 45? Just go ask some 45 year olds if they like that. Statistically speaking, you-at-45 will likely be more like them-at-45 than you-now.)
2) While you can’t know exactly what kinds of things your future self will want, those things will require resources and options. Your future self would like a fat bank account, a great network, a stellar professional reputation, and the freedom to go and do what she pleases, whatever that may be. If it turns out that your future self wants to cast off all her worldly possessions and go live in an ashram, your future self can donate the money to some noble cause and go do that; if it turns out she has a stroke of genius at age 39, or 46, or 63, and invents something, she’d need the money for startup capital, and she’ll want to be able to pick up the phone (that is, the phones we all have implanted in our minds by 2035) and be one step closer to getting her product in stores. Or maybe she’s just going to get sick. That happens. Take care of her now so, when she’s waiting for test results, she doesn’t have to worry about losing her house. You will not regret creating resources and options for your future self.
That got a little serious, no? No problem! Here are some fun suggestions for making your future self your Valentine.
Are you getting off work this evening with no big plans? Stop by the store and buy your future self a nice card.
A really nice one. She’s worth it. Write something for your next-year self. (Hey gorgeous, guess what I’m doing this year to hook you up? We should have a promotion by fall!) Seal the card, put your name on the envelope, put it in a drawer.
Buy a nice bottle of prosecco (um, all bottles of prosecco are nice), and have a drink while planning what you can do for yourself-in-twenty-years.
You ever read one of those books/blogs about self-love, and it feels a little silly? It’s a lot easier to feel “love” for your future self — she will be substantially different from you. You’re not just saying mantras to yourself in the mirror, here. The pleasurable part of this (other than the prosecco) is that, when you’re thinking about yourself-in-twenty-years, there’s really not a huge rush to add items to your to-do list now. You can make a list of gifts (gifts, as in “a lake house,” or “a fat 401K,” or “skin that has been protected by the finest sunscreens”) you’d like to give your future self, and start on it in 2023, or 2028.
It’s sometimes easy to imagine that a lot of the things you’re spending your time on right now are things you won’t be very interested in in twenty years. So maybe thinking about your future self even takes some items off of your to-do list, to make room for the new.
If you’re in the throes of a new romance with someone who’s making you a steak (or a tofu steak) tonight, have fun. But if not, there are more ways to observe the day than just grumping about it. Your future self may be a stylish, powerful, somewhat intimidating lady, but I promise she’ll appreciate your attention.
Want more Bullish? Here are some posts that talk about future selves.
Bullish Life: Should You Slow Down Your Career for a Guy?
Bullish Life: Breaking Free From Terrible Situations
Bullish: How to Ask for More Money, Part I
Bullish: Extreme Advance Planning for Very Smart Women