1 week ago for day 83, 2020 with 622 words.

Thank Your Two-Year-Ago-Self

Doing the "things you are supposed to do" is a constant struggle, even for very organised people. We all run into the walls of our minds from time to time. They might not be in the same place as other people's walls, but they are there. For everyone.

Sometimes we call the parts of our minds where we have fewer walls our "zone of genius". These places are more comfortable to navigate than the parts of our brains where we have a seemingly unsolvable labyrinth composed of all manner of mental walls and obstacles. We perceive these hard to navigate places as "what we suck at".

Sometimes, we can learn the labyrinth or get rid of some walls, enabling us to make substantial progress in an area that we thought inaccessible. Other times, these parts stay "hard to get around" and investing the energy to make them more accessible is not always worth it. For example, I do not naturally gravitate to very detail-oriented tasks. I have a tough time enjoying keeping track of and running after the minutiae. My colleague, on the other hand, thrives on that.

But there are always parts in our mind we deem worthy of "learning how to navigate better". We all have something we are actively working on improving. Or maybe we are not taking all that many steps yet, but at least the longing to be better is there.

We want to exercise more. We want to procrastinate less, find the zone more often, cook delicious meals with more ease, have a cleaner house, read more interesting stuff.

Some of these things we set out to improve without ever really checking in on the results, though. Incremental improvements are hard to measure, and since perfection is unattainable, there is always room for "better". The beautiful thing of the endless upward spiral is the infinite potential. The scary thing is the lack of "finishability". Unless you set some arbitrary mark and then suddenly stop pursuing whatever it was you were going after, you are never going to get there. As long as you want to get better, you are by definition, not good enough.

That's not a very pleasant spot to be in.

Like any other person, I am not perfect. I still think I don't read enough. I get too distracted sometimes, and my love-ignore relationship with the laundry is ridiculous. On some days, I still don't get much done.

And still, I am so much better equipped to handle the current situation than I was a couple of years ago. I don't need external pressure to work from home. I get stuff done mostly without needing reminders. Now and then, I even declutter a whole room all in one go. What's more, I have enough energy and knowledge to help my son find some structure in this, too. We made him a KanBan board to track his homework today. Five years ago, I did not even know what that was.

So instead of only looking forward, also look back. During your day, take some time to think about how you would have navigated whatever it is you're going after two years ago. Or ten years ago. Compare yourself with your self of yesteryear. Notice the difference.

Enjoy the difference.

And then say thank you to your past self. Thank your past self for starting on that path, for putting in the hours, for making all of these tiny improvements. If your past self had not looked out for its future self the way it did, you still would not be any better. But you are. So pay it forward to your future self.


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By Fiene

Trying to make this writing thing stick. Medium: https://medium.com/@letterwings Twitter: @Fiene_P

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