Years ago, I was present when a female federal judge visited campus to speak with students. She gave an excellent exhortation and then agreed to take questions. One student asked, “What advice would you give us about how to be successful?” The judge paused and said, “I would say that you should live now in a way that respects your future self.”
Sitting in the audience and listening, I was impressed. I had rarely heard such a good answer to that kind of question. She elaborated, saying that the choices you make now create the life your future self has to live. Would your future self thank you for what you did when you were 21? Or would your future self criticize you for the problems you created or the opportunities you failed to take?
My son, Andrew, had to tell me about a bad test grade this evening. I decided it was a good time to recycle the advice about your future self. After explaining the idea, I asked Andrew, “So, what do you think your future self would say to you if the two of you were to meet?” As he considered the question, I felt pretty proud of myself.
He turned to me and said, “Dad, I think my future self would say, ‘Dude, what are you doing? You’re going to create a paradox!'”