There's Always Tomorrow: Stop Your Bad Impulses

There's Always Tomorrow: Stop Your Bad Impulses
"Reflections of Tomorrow" by Nils Tamlag is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

"There's always tomorrow", there are few more frequent internal debates than those that include some variation of  this phrase. You can always start your diet, workout routine, journaling practice tomorrow, or next Monday, or at the New Year. As long as it's not today. As long as you don't have to take action right now, you're free to continue on knowing you're not giving up on your goals, just putting them off until you're really ready. But for as much as this tactic is used for ill, I've found that you can flip this impulse around and harness it for good.

In the same way that "there's always tomorrow" can be a powerful tool to put off starting the goals you want to achieve, you can use "There's Always Tomorrow" as a tool to hit the snooze button on self-destructive behaviors instead.

For example, say you're trying to eat healthier but after a long, stressful day of work you're hungry and all you want to do is order a pizza or pick up some fast food. Instead of fighting yourself about how it's fine "just this once", you can instead tell yourself "I'm not going to get fast food today but there's always tomorrow."

And maybe you will get that pizza or burger and fries tomorrow. But the point is you can use "There's always tomorrow" to put off bad behavior in the same way most people use it to delay good behavior. It gives you a snooze button for bad impulses.

Obviously if eating healthy is your goal, you eventually want to get to a place where you don't need to fight with yourself about the impulse to eat bad food. But "There's Always Tomorrow" is a pretty good tactic to help you along the way.

And this tactic can work for almost any impulsive behavior that you want to resist. It's late and you've found yourself down a YouTube rabbit hole when you should be sleeping? Put your phone down and tell yourself that you can always watch more videos tomorrow. You can even reframe things like getting yourself out of bed early. Tell yourself "I can sleep in on Sunday" as you're pushing the covers off.

Giving yourself this potential release valve for later, helps keep you on track today. And for me at least, this works way better than trying to rigidly maintain strict behavior forever. Which inevitably leads to falling off the wagon, ripping it to pieces, and then burning the entire wagon down.

"There's Always Tomorrow" doesn't work every time, sometimes the impulse still wins. But if I can give into impulses even 50% less often that's a huge improvement over the long run and the kind of thing that can keep you going down the right path.

So the next time you have an impulse you want to avoid, try hitting the bad impulse snooze button and tell yourself "There's Always Tomorrow"