By on August 4, 2017

2007 2008 Nissan Altima (public domain)

A few years ago I heard the phrase “future time orientation” and in that moment the scales, as they say, dropped from my eyes. I’d always known the concept but I didn’t realize it had an actual name. Well, it does, and that phrase is “future time orientation.” Put simply, it’s how real the future is to you, and how much thoughts of the future affect your present behavior.

The more I’ve read about future time orientation, the more I realize it is pretty much the defining characteristic of a human being. The more real the future is to you, the harder you will work, the more you will save, and the more you will moderate your behavior. Lack of future time orientation damn near qualifies as a mental illness and it turns you into a loser in any case. I can speak personally about that.

When my grandfather was 45 years old, he was just eight years from a fully-funded retirement that would see him driving Cadillacs and enjoying life without reservations until he died well into his nineties. When my father was 45, he had practiced 20 years of fiscal discipline. After twenty further years of fiscal discipline he retired to a plantation where he aimlessly steers a Benz between the gym and the golf course every day.

I, on the other hand, have more than one hundred pairs of dress shoes and I’ve spent enough money on racing to pay off my house three times over. I will have to work until the day I die because every time I’ve had money in my pocket it’s turned into a Porsche or a Kawasaki or a Savile Row suit or a massive house party with free liquor and steaks for 150 people. I have almost zero future time orientation. The only reason I pay my bills is because I’ve always managed to have a woman in the house to remind me to pay my bills. Otherwise, they wouldn’t get paid and I would just buy a bunch of ZX-10RR Winter Livery Snowflake Editions. Actually, as of this writing I think my son has more money in the bank than I do, and he is eight years old. He will be retired at 54. He can come visit me at the Wal-Mart, where I will be a greeter.

As low as my future time orientation is, however, there are people out there who are even worse. And you can actually identify them from a distance on the freeway.

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