Red Vs. Blue once put out a public service announcement about why you should not get a tattoo. Their premise was simple: think back to the you of 10 years ago. Were you an idiot? Chances are that you were. So if you get a tattoo, the you of 10 years from now is going to look back and regret your idiotic decision.
Agree or disagree with their stance on tattoos, I think they had a point about how we change over time. The me of 10 years ago was an idiot, but that’s okay. What’s important is that the me of today can recognize it.
I think the best way to get ahead in life — to get better jobs, to become better citizens and family members, and just to improve in general — is to always be asking ourselves how we can be better. With every conversation, we can think about how we could’ve handled it better. With every work task or project we complete, we should be learning from it to figure out how we can do better next time. We should always be looking to improve continuously.
This shouldn’t be done in the spirit of beating ourselves up. It can’t be a practice rooted in negativity, or I think it might be doomed to failure. For me, this is a practice rooted in optimism. I am optimistic that the me of the future will be better than the me of today.
It’s just a small shift in thinking, but it’s important. I shouldn’t go and take college classes to become better; rather, I should think about how I can be better, and if education is the means to achieve that, only then should I pursue additional education. If what I need to be better isn’t college classes, but is being healthier physically, or spending time resting with my family, or engaging in conversation with mentors, then I should do those things. What’s important is that I improve, and there are a myriad of ways that can happen.
We must accept the fact that we are learning. The things that we do now will not be as good as what we do later, and that’s okay. We can’t let that stop us from doing things now, because by doing things now and observing the outcome and working to improve, we will become better in the future. We can be assured that what we do now, we do better than we would have 10 years ago. If we remain focused on always improving, then 10 years from now we will likewise be able to do better.
So remain hopeful, optimistic, and focused on improving. Improve your skills, your physical health, your mental health, your work-life balance, the way you interact with others, and all other aspects of your life. If you do this, every day can be better than the last.