This might sound like a very negative position but stay with me because I have a valid point to make.
The ideal doesn’t exist
The best mile time, the best rewrite, the best photo edit, the best recipe for keto cookies, the best version of ourselves….none of these ideals exist.
Our bosses, our coach, our editor, or mentor might tell us that we’ve achieved the best version of something, but they’re wrong.
They mean well, but they’re still wrong.
Only the now exists
Your 7-minute mile (my personal best in high school – did I mention I loathe running?) might be your fastest to date, but you might still be able to shave a few seconds off of it. That technical writing piece or blog post you worked so hard to revise might be the best it’s going get in the time you have left to work on it, but it could always be better.
Likewise, endlessly editing that cool selfie isn’t going to get you any additional likes on Instagram or followers on your blog. Perfecting the keto cookie recipe isn’t going to help you lose any additional pounds because…well, they’re cookies! 😆
Am I saying that we shouldn’t try to improve any of the above markers of growth?
Am I saying we should all be satisfied with our current status for each?
No, and yes…
Instead, be better right now
Spending too much time dreaming of and planning for the future version of ourselves isn’t the best use of our time and energy. Sure, a bit of positive visualization can help raise our level of motivation for a task we envision, but visualization alone won’t get us there.
Instead, we need to be honest with ourselves. Acknowledging (read: taking an honest and critical look at) our current state is, however, a beneficial first step toward personal growth of any kind… and by critical, I mean being honest and not engaging in self-blame or self-criticism.
I may not be the best writer, but I hold an honest view of my current state:
- A blank page or screen doesn’t scare me; I know I can create something worth reading
- I’m not afraid for others to read what I write; I’ve been publishing for over ten years in the public space
- I don’t judge myself as a writer based on the feedback of others; I look at each comment and assess from there
- I make the same syntax and grammar mistakes over and over; whatever…it’s what I do and why I use Grammarly and have an expert editor at work to make sure I don’t embarrass myself or my employer
I may not be the best father or grandfather, but I hold an honest view of where I stand:
- I parented to the fullest capacity of compassion and love I possessed at the time with each of my children who are now caring, loving, and compassionate adults
- I could be a more present grandfather; even though my seven grandchildren live in other states (Washington and South Carolina) I see them when it’s possible; I do think I can make more of an effort to see them more often
- I’m horrible about remembering birthdays and anniversaries; must get better at this
I’m not the best employee, but I know what I do well:
- I put in five 10-12 hour days each week like the rest of my team, but spend the first hour (7a-8a) on myself reading the New York Times on my iPad and outlining my Zen-Journal entry for the day
- I meet my deadlines and work overtime and on weekends from home when necessary, but I also take time outside in Noguchi Garden on a daily basis to regain my sanity and connection with the world outside the corporate space
- I take my work seriously, but I also make it a practice to connect with my coworkers on and off the job because they’re each human beings with feelings and needs and not just workers helping me to accomplish corporate objectives
I may not be the world’s most minimalist person, but I know what works for me:
- I continually feel that I have too much stuff, yet I know that I possess less than the average amount of things most Americans carry around in life
- I’m a bit embarrassed at my lack of things in my home and so I don’t invite people over; on the flip side, I can completely out of my house in one afternoon
- My daily carry still fits in a backpack, but I wish it were less
- I have only a few items of clothing (they’re all black) and I love the simplicity; besides, no one but me really gives a flying feck what I wear anyway
We are what we are
The best versions of ourselves are right here in real time waiting to move forward.