The perception of progress can be highly motivating and can give us a sense of fulfillment. This goes for both short term focus and for long term focus. It can be highly rewarding if we feel we are taking steps forward to completing a short term goal or we notice we are getting a bit better at something. Also it can be gratifying to feel that we are making long term progress for instance in education.

 

When we are young progress seems to be everywhere. As kids, we are used to learning new things every day. As young adults we find it normal that our careers are in upward trajectory. But we may think that progress curves off in our thirties and that we reach a peak when we are around forty. We clearly begin to notice some signs of physical decline and certain cognitive functions may begin to appear weaker too, such as our capacity to remember names. What mindset do we have with respect to this? Do we view the first half of our lives as climbing a hill and the second half as going down that hill? This mindset might imply that the first half of our life is the good part in which everything may blossom and grow while the second part is the lesser part in which we begin to wither.

 

Is another mindset conceivable? Is it conceivable that our entire life may be an upward trajectory until the day we die? While it is undeniably true that some functions will start to decline from a certain age some other functions may get stronger well into old age. For instance, as we age, most of us get better at emotion regulation and we tend to get a more positive and optimistic outlook on life. Also it appears that we become better at pattern recognition and at making better judgments due to our tacit knowledge (more about this). In addition to this, there is another point which seems to allow for a continued progress mindset. Even though some capacities may have become weaker this does not necessarily keep us from making further progress. We still may proceed, perhaps at a slower speed, but still.

 

So what is a more productive mindset: the hill mindset of the continued-progress mindset? Is it conceivable that people continue to build, grow and progress until the day they die? And would this be desirable?

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