The Oxford English Dictionary has entries for over 170,000 words currently in use. We use each of these words, some more often than others, to communicate thoughts, ideas, feelings, emotions, and so much more on a daily basis.
While many of us can come up with several unlisted words we’d probably benefit from using less often, there is one legitimate word that I believe to be far more detrimental. This word can not only be found within the pages of every English dictionary, but it is also something most of us use daily, even within casual conversation.
The common word that I believe we need to stop saying so often is later.
I’m not suggesting we eradicate the word entirely from our vocabulary, but I am encouraging us all to become aware of when we are using it, and how often.
Later Disempowers the Present Moment
While it is undoubtedly impossible for us to do everything that we need to accomplish right now, we rarely use the term to express that reality. Instead, we use it to justify not doing things that we are fully capable of doing, simply because we’re too lazy to do them now.
We all know the garbage won’t take itself out and job applications won’t send themselves, but still we opt not to deal with it now. While much of what we regularly cast aside might seem harmless, the repeated choice to save unpleasant tasks for a later date can take a toll on your overall approach to life.
Before you know it, you’re passing up golden opportunities to drastically change your life for the better simply because you’ve become so accustomed to putting things off.
Later Feeds Our Addiction to Instant Gratification
We live in a world largely obsessed with seeking out and attaining instant gratification. We cheat on our partners, quit on diets, and binge watch shows not solely because, but often largely fuelled by, our need to get something desirable in the now.
One of the biggest reasons we use the word later as often as we do is that it provides us the instant gratification of not having to do something right now. While taking action may also be tied to gratification, it’s our future selves who will receive it, not us right now, which for many of us isn’t as enticing.
I think most of us can agree that all of the best things in our lives thus far took time to build and come together, so perhaps it’s time we ensure our lingo aligns with that knowing.
Later Is the #1 Cause of Regret
One of the most powerfully motivating thoughts I regularly turn to is something that I learned within the book The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower. It encourages readers to imagine themselves on their deathbed while asking what that person would say to you right now.
While their advice may be to enjoy your youth (no matter how old you currently are) and to cherish the time that you have with loved ones, there is no way they would ever tell you to succumb to laziness. No matter how much we accomplish in life, we are bound to always have been capable of more, so let that inspire you to stop putting off the things that are important to you.
As I mentioned before, the purpose of this article is not to fully eliminate the word later from your lexicon (nor is it to make us into machines that never relax), but to instead encourage you to become more mindful of the power of language and how you use it. For the next little while, treat the word later as you would a curse word around children.
Take note of how and when you are using it. If it ever falls under one of the above mentioned uses, challenge yourself to do the opposite to prevent yourself from continuing to form a behaviour best avoided.
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