It’s been said that hindsight is 20/20, meaning that we always see things with the most clarity when we look back into the past at them.
To a large degree that is true, because only once things have occurred can we look at them both with a certainty of what occurred, but also with how they affected us. If we look back over the last year of the past or so of our lives, student or otherwise, and really think about it, we can often see why we are where we are in our lives in the present.
A high achieving high school senior with great college prospects can often look back to when he or she was a junior and see how he or she arrived there. We all do this to one degree or another, successful people just tend to think more about it.
They care about what their future “you” will think.
In the less complex and more unknown world of the ancient past, our brains were served well with immediate gratification. For a large portion of this time, we hadn’t even invented system of writing. What’s more, for a long time after we did, we lacked modern day communication methods such as email and social media.
Because of those things, our brains became used to dealing with the world as it came, and not really putting too much thought into where our lives or society was headed as a whole. The minority who did were the philosophers, many of whose writings are still highly regarded and relevant today.
If those people who lived back then could see us now, they would probably be surprised and shocked to see what humanity has become. However when we look back into history, it’s much easier for us to see how we humans and our world became the way we are, both for good and bad. On a much smaller scale, that’s how it works in our own lives. The present “you” was at one time the future “you.”
You see, we tend to view the future “us” as a different person entirely. Several scientific studies have demonstrated this. However, the person we are at some time in the future is just us, plus the experiences we’ve had, knowledge we’ve gained and actions we’ve taken. That future self can always change, and we’re creating that person right now, in the present.
Looking back at what created the present version of ourselves is great, however there is a much more powerful version of this. We must project ourselves into the future and look back on the present.
We’re always making history, so we must ask ourselves what we things we do now that we would regret in the future. Essentially, we must make our present selves do the things now that our future selves would be proud of.
A year from now, what would you say you want to have achieved between now and then? A year from now, what would you regret doing or not doing today? What will you do today to help build the future version of yourself that you want to be?
How we answer those questions is great, but even better is that we ask them in the first place. So I ask you, what will the future “you” think?
Ernest Fannings is director of Top Math Tutoring.