The Future Does Not Indicate Your Worth

The Future Does Not Indicate Your Worth

Many of us have a bad habit of judging ourselves based on our ideal self that hasn’t actualized. We have big goals and aspirations, and we want better for ourselves. We see where we want to go, and we see… we’re not there yet.

Our expectation is that we should be there. In fact, we should have gotten there a long time ago.

And of course, once we do reach the ideal, there’s always a greater vision that replaces it. We always want more, we always strive to be better. If we reach our goal of earning $5,000 a month, it’s easy to think that we need to replace it with a bigger goal of $10,000 or $15,000.

Because of this, we get caught in a closed loop of disappointment in ourselves. We’re always “not there yet.”

This isn’t a very fun way to live. We end up beating ourselves up much of the time, and we forget how far we’ve actually come. We also forget that the goal isn’t to reach the perfect destination, or climb the highest summit, but it’s to create a path that we never want to stop walking.

The biggest problem with judging yourself based on your ideal future self is that you forget that you’re already whole. The goal isn’t to fix yourself. It’s to realize that the idea that you’re imperfect is a lie. The best way to live is from a state of self-possession, to move confidently, expanding that wholeness.

We also forget how far we’ve come on our journey and what we’ve done along the way. When we’re deep in the forest and look ahead, it’s easy to get frustrated by how far we have yet to go. But by remembering to look back at the distance we’ve covered we can become reinvigorated and inspired to keep going.

If it doesn’t seem like you’ve traveled very far, I bet that you have. Your habit of tunnel vision — seeing only what you want to become, but are not — keeps you from acknowledging your accomplishments and victories. Realize that you’re exactly where you need to be right now.

Vision and desiring more is a beautiful thing. But your desires exceeding where you are should never be the way you measure your self worth.

My question for you: Have you ever judged yourself based on the ideal you want to achieve?

Leave a comment below and share with us.

photo courtesy of dullhunk

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Comment & Add Your Voice

emilyroseartist September 1, 2011 at 11:54 am

Jonathan, I have many times judged myself for not being where I want to end up, its been a process of changing thinking patterns, and I am so grateful for how far I have come and how much I have learned. My birthday is the 28th this month and I can look back and see that the past couple years have been rough and I was able to move forward through all that, and I am looking forward to what the new year for me has in store! I’ve been making wonderful friends and my business ideas have started to bring some fruits and my health is better and its amazing that I have come this far! Thank you for the wonderful reminder about getting rid of those blinders!

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gunsinger September 1, 2011 at 11:57 am

every single stinking day. and what a crap bag it is: weighing down forward movement AND preventing me from truly frolicking in the awesome that i am now. great post, jonathan. i am thinking that a great answer to: “how are you?” will be “presently awesome.”

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JoeyWeber September 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I’m probably strange in this, but I find judging myself based on what I could be highly motivating.

It’s not a “I suck!” kind of judging. It’s more of a “what are my results?” and a “am I really making as much of my life as I want to?”

I spent a long time telling myself I was good enough just the way I was and promptly made little of my life. If I was fine the way I was, why do anything? Eventually, I decided life is short and a gift, so I might as well make as much of it as I can before I’m gone.

I totally agree you shouldn’t get down on yourself for not being as good as you want to be (if you’re ambitious you will never be as good as you want to be…and that’s a good thing). You should definitely never attach something like your self-worth to things like that – that doesn’t help anything.

But personally, I will never go back to being totally satisfied with myself, no matter how successful I become. So long as I’m trying to make something of my life, I will be happy.

Again, I may be weird in this – whatcha think?

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rewirebusiness September 1, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Awesome Jonathan,

All the time. In fact, I call this the act of “forward-looking”. We project all the way to the end and place ourselves there. Backward-looking is where I try to be now. This is when I start from where I want to be and look back – - therefore not creating any false pretenses and setting myself up.

Cornell Psychologist, Tom Gilovich, did a very interesting study. He studied people in their 20’s and then in their 70’s and 80’s. What he found was those in their 20’s seemed to regret the actions they took that did not go well, like getting turned down for a date, or not studying hard enough for an exam, etc. But older people tended to regret the actions they did not take such as learning to play a particular sport, not taking advantage of an opportunity, not working for themselves, etc.

This backward-looking perspective shows the missed opportunities and things left undone. So I try to take that approach and thus I live more vicariously.

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nateguggia September 1, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I completely agree with everything you are saying. The only thing is that you come from a “we” place the entire time, not from “I”. If you came from the stance of “I” experience all of these things, I would relate directly to you as I have been there and do this too. Coming from the “we” stance sounds preachy to me. I feel there is enough people telling me what to do out there. I am looking for someone that I can relate directly to through their stories and experiences.

I love your content and get a lot of value. Just some feedback.

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livingauthentically September 2, 2011 at 4:43 am

Sort of. I do work from the future back – decide what to do in light of where I want to end up.

But I don’t judge myself much by this.

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suddenlyjamie September 2, 2011 at 4:52 am

I absolutely fall prey to this particular beast on a regular basis. I have so many intentions which too easily morph into expectations which I can then use to beat myself up when I don’t meet them. Need to constantly remind myself that, “you’ve come a long way, baby” … important to set your sights high and keep moving, but just as important to look back in appreciation of where you come and what you’ve done.

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Dr_Rae September 2, 2011 at 6:28 am

@suddenlyjamie Being in the moment with no expectations works for me Jamie. When I catch myself starting to judge myself “based on the ideal [I} want to achieve” I bring myself back to the moment with breath and no thinking. Let me know how this works for you.

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changepals September 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I completely agree with the idea of this article, that we can’t suspend any celebration of ourselves or satisfaction with ourselves until we reach some arbitrary goal.

A thought I’ve been struggling with for a while, however, is: if we are whole and perfect and happy as we are, then why should we pursue personal growth or self development? What then is valid motivation?

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Shawna September 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I completely agree with the idea of this article, that we can’t suspend any celebration of ourselves or satisfaction with ourselves until we reach some arbitrary goal.

A thought I’ve been struggling with for a while, however, is: if we are whole and perfect and happy as we are, then why should we pursue personal growth or self development? What then is valid motivation?

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Deenaohzee September 3, 2011 at 6:12 am

Thank you for reminding me that I need to celebrate how far I’ve come and that only in this state of celebration will I be able to feel the beautiful tingly excitement about my future rising within me :)

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ammaslight September 3, 2011 at 8:40 am

yes, being aware of the distance between what I want and what is (or seems to be) can be painful. I’m practicing not being hypnotized into believing that the current appearance of things is “fixed” to to speak. 3D is a lot more liquid than I have given it credit for. This could all literally change in the blink of an eye.

Thanks for your post dude.

K

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Marya | Writing Happiness September 5, 2011 at 6:03 pm

I am always happy looking at the progress I am making. Its the absence of this that makes me go into panic mode. I never worry about the destination though – just enjoying the journey. :)

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Jeff - Digital Nomad Journey September 7, 2011 at 10:32 am

“Realize that you’re exactly where you need to be right now.”

This is so important.

It’s all too easy to judge current progress not only on your future self, but on what your mentors or inspirations are doing. It’s easy to be envious of others 10 years younger doing the same thing you want to. However, it takes wisdom to recognize all of your past experiences have shaped the person you are today. If you want to be a different person tomorrow…..start the changes today.

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maialondon September 10, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I definitely have judged myself before based on my achievements or what I perceived to be the lack of achievement more like. For a long time I couldn’t get a job and I felt like I am not good enough and I was embarrassed to tell people that I couldn’t find work and cringed when anyone asked me what I do. So I can definitely relate to that feeling. And society doesn’t help with this.

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maialondon September 10, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I definitely have judged myself before based on my achievements or what I perceived to be the lack of achievement more like. For a long time I couldn’t get a job and I felt like I am not good enough and I was embarrassed to tell people that I couldn’t find work and cringed when anyone asked me what I do. So I can definitely relate to that feeling. And society doesn’t help with this.

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maialondon September 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I definitely have judged myself before based on my achievements or what I perceived to be the lack of achievement more like. For a long time I couldn’t get a job and I felt like I am not good enough and I was embarrassed to tell people that I couldn’t find work and cringed when anyone asked me what I do. So I can definitely relate to that feeling. And society doesn’t help with this

http://zivotzivot.blogspot.com/

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Alison Elliot September 16, 2011 at 9:09 am

Absolutel.. . .I’ve often ‘judged’ myself based on what I ‘thought’ I ‘should’ have done, or ‘should’ have accomplished. I’ve done it so much that I finally wore myself out doing it, so now I don’t do that anymore. Seriously though, I think being ‘ok’ with yourself is like anything else, it takes practice. And for me, for right now, I’m good with that. Thanks for the post, I enjoyed it.

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Stuart Mills September 17, 2011 at 1:03 am

I once heard that “the best place to start is right where you are”, and I think that’s exactly true for all of us.

We always strive to make our lives better than what they already are, and we always wish that we had more than what we currently have. In fact, no matter how much we have and own, it will never be enough. At least a small part of us will wish for more.

Instead, why not turn around, look behind you, and view all the things you’ve gathered along the way? :-)

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lezlyp.advertising September 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm

I’m trying to be better at not being so judgmental of myself. Instead of telling myself “what an epic fail, you still have so much more to go,” I tell myself “Don’t stop! Look how FAR you’ve come.” This little reminder really helps me move forward towards my goals instead of backtracking:)

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Lezly September 17, 2011 at 7:15 pm

I’m trying to be better at not being so judgmental (of myself). Instead of telling myself “what an epic fail, you still have so much more to go,” I tell myself “Don’t stop! Look how FAR you’ve come.” This little reminder helps me move towards my goals instead of backtracking.

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BojanDjordjevic September 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Iy doesnt necesserily needs to be a bad thing. Inner critic is there for a reason, shutting him dow is not that of a good idea. Having a voice inside of your head telling you, that with a little more effort and taking yourself a little bit more seriously, you can achive your dreams. And that voice is in most cases right, except at deranged people.

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Jamid1 September 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm

This is really a simple way of thinking yet can be so difficult for some. I love how it is put in context. Simply add like minded peole, event, ect and subtract those that are not. Get results.

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arielauthentic September 27, 2011 at 7:23 am

One of my favourite posts on this subject. Thank you SO much for writing and reminding people of this! Brilliant!

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CorinneRodrigues January 7, 2012 at 8:59 am

This resonates with me, Jonathan. I have tried for many years to be ‘there’ and this led to much unhappiness. It was only when I accepted myself as I am that I have truly started blossoming in to ‘me’ and enjoying who I am….

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Ben McCahill October 24, 2012 at 4:12 am

‘I do this every day’
I heard this from Chris Guillebeau. Imagine a life where you could say wow – I get to do this every day – Outstanding :)

That is what living on my own terms would feel like.

Great Post, Thanks!

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