Being proud of your past work

It’s a new year, and for many of us that means taking a look back at what you’ve done over the last year. Problem is, it’s easy for this to quickly fill you with negativity.

Pretty much everyone I’ve ever spoken to cringes when they look at the work they’ve done in the past. It’s almost inescapable. The very nature of our role as designers and engineers and builders in this day and age involves learning the ins and outs of various domains over time, so it’s easy to look back and view your earlier decisions as naive. Hint: they were.

Accepting that our decisions are always going to be naive is a tough pill to swallow. The decisions you made yesterday, the ones you made today, and yes, even the ones you’ll make tomorrow (and the day after) will all look like straight-up rookie mistakes in a year’s time, or maybe in even a couple of months. Choose to be proud of the learning process instead.

The only way to learn to be better is by shipping, and watching what happens. Your only job (whether it’s officially or not) is to make decisions based on imperfect information, ship, and observe the result. Then repeat, with the first result as new information. And repeat. And repeat again.

Don’t dwell on what didn’t go according to plan (there will always be an oversupply of that). Learn to be proud of the things you got right. Learn to be proud of what you learned, and learn to enjoy the perpetual journey through naivety.

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