The Feedback Loop: On Incorporating Retrospectives

You ever revisit an old song/movie/book/TV show that you loved in the past, but found out it was actually pretty bad, or dated? Keep in mind, there’s a difference between having your tastes change over time and just visual rot over time. For example, specific genres like action movies usually age worse than other genres, say a romance or drama, because they usually rely on more special effects. In this case, you just realized what you liked wasn’t that good, and a lot of your previous judgement of the work was papered over by other qualities like novelty or the flashiness of the spectacle at the time. For years or decades even, you were had this impression of this work that didn’t align with the actual object experience upon your reevaluation. Why is that? Because in all those years, you never went back to check if your opinion changed over time. Let’s extract this to the rest of your life. A job field you’re no longer interested in, a college degree you’re majoring in but not passionate about, maybe even a relationship that’s kind of lost its spark but you still consider good, because of how many good times you shared in the past. Continual reevaluation of the status quo is fundamentally necessary to determine if all of your habits are worth keeping in your life.

Keep in mind, this isn’t an imperative command to upend your lifestyle. If you’re satisfied with your current lifestyle, there’s no reason to change things up. But at the very least, it’s necessary to reevaluate all aspects of your lifestyle on a continual basis – otherwise, how will you know if something is worth keeping or not? Liken it to a monitoring system: continual reevaluation of all your habits is akin to setting up tracking systems on what is and isn’t working in the current system you call your life. Without reevaluation, you won’t realize whether something is broken or not. Otherwise, things could be critically miscalibrated for years and you would have no idea, since you’ve never bothered to look. Having said that, it’s also important to prioritize what’s worth reevaluating and the timeframe for reevaluations. Consider the example of the childhood movie you realized was crap: Is there any material impact to you realizing you no longer like the movie? Has it influenced your life in any way? If not, why does it matter to go back and revisit it?

Let’s consider it from another aspect: professional athletes, specifically combat sports athletes. How many times do we see fighters continuing far past their athletic peaks, to the point where they’re no longer competitive, or where they’ve sustained so much damage to their minds or bodies that its affected their quality of life? Have they properly reevaluated their vocation, or are they possibly trapped in circumstance? After all, there’s been many a fighter who’ve continued to fight long past their prime simply because fighting still paid well and they had no other opportunities. In the end, no one can make the decision to continue on with a pursuit except the individual themselves, but at the very least they should be cognizant of why they’re making it.

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