Produce more and consume less. Some likely areas of reducing consumption that I can think of right now: reddit, netflix, porn. Some areas I’m not worried about: reading books blogs and articles, listening to podcasts and music, going to see anything live. Some likely areas of improving production: write more honestly – actual honesty, not just the kind I purport to have as an excuse for not changing – perform music more boldly, consider arts and crafts since you always liked them as a kid.
People typically write advice for their past selves. Stuff they wish they had known. The implication is that they’re so much better now, and you can tell because here’s all the things they used to not do. But just because you see it doesn’t mean that its gone. You can’t just say “I used to be so self-centered, I thought I was so important and I would get famous and change the world. I thought I was the main character in a story. But now I’ve got more realistic goals like improving my immediate community and working on myself.” Well you can, but I won’t believe you. (Why does it matter if I believe you? Because you’re supposed to be future me according to the conceit of this post. If you’re not, then please stop reading, this is very personal.) I won’t believe you because it seems like you still think you’re the main character, you’ve just changed the story to a more boring one to avoid the cognitive dissonance resulting from you still currently having done nothing of note.
“I wish I had told my teenage self how little his high school problems mattered.” Obviously they don’t matter to you now but that’s because you’re not in high school anymore. Taxes? Probably won’t matter once I’m finally dead. That’s when real life starts. Right? Wrong. My bullshit meter is suggesting that you don’t actually want to give your own teenage self this advice, you just want to tell it to some current teenagers. And I know this to be true because when you were in high school you said the same goddamn thing about middle school problems. Mathematical induction, idiot.
“Don’t worry about what other people think about you. The older I get the less I give a fuck.” Wow do you want a goddamn medal? I can order one that says “#1 in not caring.” Remind me again why it’s so important not to care about people’s judgement? Because you don’t want to be weighed down by their criticism? Sounds like something that someone with a strong sense of self who is impervious to others’ opinions would do. Throw out that radar dish cap’n, my internal compass says the enemy is to the north.
So, given that any advice I would give my past self would imply that I think I’ve improved at something, and the same is true of any advice that my future self might want to give current me, and heaven forbid I imply anything of the sort, I think it’s basically only ever appropriate to give your future self advice. How will you know what advice your future self will need? Assume you haven’t changed, because you probably haven’t. Giving your future self advice doesn’t make any sense, since anything you could come up with now you could still come up with in the future. Maybe, but coming up with advice for your past self makes even less sense and has much higher paradox potential if you’re not careful and your grandpa sure looks a lot like… no way!
One last thing I’ll say about sending advice into the future – it’s already here. The me that addressed future me at the beginning of this post is already addressing past me. If I scroll up and reread the first paragraph I’ll already be the intended reader. Haha, you say, of course I intended to read this in a few years, right? What’s the point of giving advice to yourself 30 minutes from now? And since you’re obviously missing the point, let me answer that question with another question: why wait?