The truth is most of us are unable to accurately predict our future selves. The challenges in making this prediction include context and time. You know what your past life has been and you know what your current life is. A simple way to answer the question about your future life would be to extrapolate what you know. Not so fast. The problem is your past life is now over. The same applies to your current life. It is now done, too.
We are challenged to make big decisions about our future life all the time. Where should you go to college? What career is best for you? Whom shall you marry? Should you have children? How big of a house will you need? All of those decisions impact your future self and most are hard to undo. Yet, somehow we muster the courage to make these decisions. Sometimes you make the wrong decisions.
Why did you make the wrong decision? I think it is because people presume that that their current self will be their future self, which means that they don’t plan on changing much. Real life finds most of us learning and growing because of the passage of time. We must live with our decisions and often that is at the expense of our image of our past and current selves.
Over time most of us resemble our past selves less and less. You hear people say to others, “You have not changed a bit.” I appreciate the sentiment, but my guess is that they are not telling the truth. Want evidence? Go to your next high school reunion and you will find yourself dependent on the photo/name badges to determine who is who.
A lot can happen in 10 years. Time does not stand still and neither do you. I think the key to predicting our future selves is to acknowledge the power of time in our lives and welcome the change it brings. It is fine to celebrate the memories of what life was like, but be sure to welcome your new self as you move forward. This applies to the twenty-something and the eighty-something (and the in-between).
John Bradley Jackson
Author, Entrepreneur, Professor
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