Your past work should be embarrassing to you, maybe even cringeworthy. You might hate looking at it. Why?

Because it means you have improved since then. You’ve learned new ways, you’ve progressed, you’re so much better and it shows. Everything you did in the past now seems kind of junior.

When I read articles I wrote years ago, I feel an urge to edit them. I want to strikethrough things I no longer believe. I want to improve the syntax and rewrite titles. I’m itching to make them better because they aren’t right as they are.

But on the date of publication I was pleased with them. They represented the best of what I could produce at the time. I have to remember that when I revisit. I have to resist the urge to upgrade and amend to cover up my present embarrassment.

I’m okay with this feeling, because imagine the alternative.

Imagine looking back at your life and work ten years ago and not being embarrassed by it. Imagine thinking, “yeah, I’d do the same now.”

That would represent no growth, no change, no progress.

As painful as it is, cringing at past versions of you is a good sign.