I had come to realize that my sense of myself had changed very little over the fifteen years or so. Despite getting married, having children, moving several times, and switching careers, I didn’t feel profoundly like I was profoundly different than my 30 year-old self; so why should I see my 60 year-old self as a different person? (The Grant study’s participants likewise showed a great consistency over the decades in their personality and psychological makeup.)
The paper talks primarily about risk profile and personality, but I think this is true about a number of my traits. While I also see my personality and risk profile relatively unchanged with age, I also constantly focus on how I’ve changed over those years, why, and for better or worse? “What part of me do I most want to be gone in 5 years?” or “What would I rather see in myself that I don’t see yet?” Every year, my goal is to be ashamed at how naive, foolish, and unfocused I was the year before – my hope is that this strategy will push me to be always more focused, productive, responsible, and good to my family than I am today.