Every few years I find myself Reflecting on the past. I think about what an idiot I was. My time could have been spent better. I could have not let my vices get the best of me.
It is to be expected. I have had new experiences, and I have taken in more information. We are not static creatures and we most definitely do not live in a static world. For better or worse, we are always changing.
My present self always knows what’s up. They say hindsight is 20/20, and this always comes into play when we are reflecting on our past selves. We can now clearly see our past pitfalls and obstacles.
This is a common motivation for self improvement. We learn from our experiences and take precautions for the future. However, solely learning from the past is only half of the equation.
If we only look backward for guidance, we Spend our lives playing catch up. We spend our twenties improving on our high school selves. Our thirties are a hustle of trying to prove that our twenty-something self is now a better person.
We should also be attempting to look from the future. We all eventually turn into our past selves. In a few years we will be reflecting upon these very moments and reviewing our accomplishments and setbacks.
Life can be chaotic and we can’t account for everything. However, a little self-awareness goes a long way. I am certain that we are all doing a few things that our future selves will not like.
This may come off as morose, but I often think about my future death bed reflections. When I do this, my Netflix list and video game achievements rank very low on the list. Television and video games have been a big part of my life up until this point. While I have enjoyed and appreciated my time consuming large amounts of entertainment, I have little to show for it.
I decided to write this post because I am going to turn thirty in a few months. My last few weeks were spent reflecting upon my 20s. I think about how naive I was in certain aspects of my life. I see my lack of motivation, and my missed opportunities. While a lot of these issues have been rectified, I can’t help but feel like I did not spend my time wisely.
My time management was not always aligned with my creative goals. The hundreds of hours I spent on World of Warcraft could have been a new skill. Hell, I could have made my own RPG in that amount of time. The thousands of episodes entered into my TV Time account could have been a comic book or novel.
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It can be hard to predict the standards of our future self. For example, we may think that our biggest goal at the moment is eating better. However, in three years we may be reflecting upon how we wasted money. It is impossible to know what will happen in the future, but a little self-awareness can go a long way. Self-awareness will help make sure that we are making the most of our present.
While our experiences shape our perspective, our core values and virtues are often held intact. From this we can attempt to extrapolate what we might want in the future. Over time we may change our fashion style, or enjoy different forms of media. However, we will most likely want the same overarching values in the future, such as relationships and careers.
What if I told you that you already know your future self?
Here comes the cringy part: Most of us embellish our skills and their impact. We want to create the illusion that we are adept at our passions. This is something most people do, but is not often acknowledged. I have found that a lot of people have a hard time talking about this.
I am not saying that everyone is knowingly manipulating the people around them. These embellishments are a common part of social interactions. However, I do find that we want to be seen as an expert while we are still a student. We project our future selves in the present.
Take diet and weight loss for example. We have a goal of losing twenty pounds. Have you ever seen someone talking like a weight loss guru after a week of dieting? I’ve been that person. I didn’t wait to finish my weight loss journey before reaping the social benefits.
We often adapt our future self into our personality long before we have the required experience. I actually like that people do this. It seems to happen more often when we are meeting new people. We let them know what archetype we are. We show them the class on our character sheet, even if we are low-level. I won’t be a level fifty paladin for a few more years, but I want you to know that I am a crusader of the light.
Some may call this posing, and it is to a certain extent. However, I like to think of it as people showing their idea of their best self. The hard part is bringing these ideas into reality. While we work on that, we can signal to others where we want to be.
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We do this behind closed doors as well. We daydream of accomplishments. Though I haven’t played a live gig in over a year, it still feels good to play air guitar in the mirror.
These fantasies and signals are indications of our future goals and plans. While it feels good to pretend to be our best self, being our best self feels a lot better. This is how we should be structuring our goals and ambitions. While it is important to learn from the mistakes of the past, it is just as important to create our own paths for progression.
It is time to make goals and improve our lives. Sure, we have made mistakes in the past. We should be making sure that we do not fall into the same bad situations and decisions. At the same time, we can use this growth as a platform to help us reach into the future and make achievements that we will reflect upon favorably.
Quotes About Reflecting on the Past
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
― Ernest Hemingway
“Make the most of yourself….for that is all there is of you.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
― William Faulkner
“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”
― Albert Einstein
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
― Carl R. Rogers
Make Some Moves!
Let’s go make our future-selves proud! We will no longer play catch up with our experiences. We will actively progress our lives to meet our aspirations. It is only then can we reflect upon the past and see that we were on the path to be the great person are in the present.
What kind of goals do you set for yourself? What do you do with the information you receive from reflecting on the past? Let me know on social media!
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