Yourself five years removed holds the key to your future
When looking to improve on particular aspects of ourselves, we often imagine whom we’d like to be in the future. History, however, always holds valuable lessons – and facing yourself five years removed can reveal quite a bit about your future.
Past, present and future: these are the three concepts through which humanity perceive the aspect of time. Apparently, living in the past does you no good; living in the present means you’ve either achieved enlightenment or don’t have much hope for a promising future; and living in the future is more or less synonymous with being a geek (which, incidentally, I consider to be a good thing). Oh, and they’re also an excellent way of perceiving the various stages of self improvement.
The art of “self improvement” is popular these days, and with good reason: in an increasingly knowledge-based society, you operate with an entirely different skill set than even your grandparents did, and it’s placing enough stress on the majority of people involved with the rat race to trigger them into seeking ways of lessening the burden. Because of this, people who feel they’re not making the most of themselves start by making up a status quo – a summary of their present selves.
Alas, it is with humans as it is with software: nobody starts out at version, say, 3.0 (unless of course one is pretending to be someone whom one is not). The current version of ourselves is a result of a multitude of changes we’ve already wrought upon ourselves, some incremental and others vast; some conscious and some of which we have yet to become aware. We are the sum of our lives – and there’s a lot to learn from the past, starting by imagining whom, as specific as you can be, you were five years ago.
Are you more humble than you were five years ago? Are you as enthusiastic? Do you communicate better? Are you happier? Which people are in your life? What’s your job like? Have you been promoted? Why?
As always, questions are revealing if only we dare to answer them truthfully; you may not like what you see in the mirror, but it will certainly clarify in which areas you have improved, and where there is more to do.
Furthermore, you shouldn’t limit the excercise to yourself: ask a friend, and perhaps a colleague whom you trust. Humans have an infinite capacity for self-deception, and it never hurts (or rather, it probably will) to have someone correct our own, subjective opinion of ourselves – not least since we tend to judge our past selves infavourably (the reason for which you’ll have to consult someone with better qualifications than yours truly).
You’ll just have to console yourself with the fact that this gives you a better opportunity to make the changes you’d like to make in your life in the five years ahead.
One of the most endearing traits of humanity is our capacity for hope. We hope that, in the future, things will be better – which is the main actuator for our desire to change for the better. Fortunately, we also have the means of exacting improvement – which, as with all major undertakings, is often best executed in increments.
Remember this, though: whom you’ll be in the future should depend solely upon your own wishes, rather than other people’s expectations of you – which is damn well guaranteed to make you miserable.
Dare to change on your own terms and in accordance with your beliefs, and never forget that hindsight is 20/20, lest you beat yourself up for poor decisions. Even the best among us make them – repeatedly. The difference is that the best ones are able to forget and forgive themselves for them.