Sam Holstein

5 Hopeful Reasons Why Your Life Will Be Better 10 Years From Now

5 Hopeful Reasons Why Your Life Will Be Better 10 Years From Now

In dark times, you wonder whether all your hard work is worth it. Year after year, nothing seems to get better no matter how hard you try. Is it even worth continuing to hope for a better future? Maybe you’d be better off if you cut your emotional losses and accepted your mediocre life for what it is.

These thoughts have been bouncing around in my head a lot lately. After years of therapy, I’m starting to make some big improvements in my life, but I’m still a long way from stability or happiness. And I’ve thought I’ve made big improvements before, six years ago, only to watch my progress come crashing down like a house of cards.

I’ve wondered, is all this effort really worth it? Am I really learning anything in therapy? Is my improvement permanent? Or is it a mirage on the road that will disappear in a few short years?

But there is reason to believe in a better future, for you and for me.

#1: You Are Someone Who Puts in the Work

There is no guarantee your life ten years from now will be better than it is now. But there’s a solid chance it will be because you are someone who puts in the work. You are someone who puts effort into figuring out how they can make their life better.

In the short term this is bloody and thankless work. You have to bet on yourself and hold fast while the storm rages, often for years at a time.

In the end, it’s worth it. You beat your addictions, break your bad romantic patterns, and find the strength to pursue your dreams. You become one of those people who says “Ten years ago, my life was a wreck, but now I’m happily married with two kids” or whatever happiness looks like for you.

Two years ago, I was smoking marijuana daily, drinking massive quantities of alcohol on the weekends, riddled with trauma, and prone to sudden bouts of destructive behavior.

I’m still riddled with trauma, but I’m orders of magnitude less reckless and destructive, I don’t drink alcohol anymore, and I’m in the process of bringing my marijuana use under control. My progress is tangible and measurable. I tell myself, if this is how far I can come in two years, imagine how far I can come in ten.

#2: You Will Surprise Yourself with How You Change

If you’re over 30, think back to ten years ago. Remember who you were. Compare that to who you are now. You’re dramatically different than the person you were, right? Of course. Even more than that… you’re nothing like who you thought you would become ten years ago.

Ten years ago, I thought I would become a high-powered tech entrepreneur, with a high-powered entrepreneur tech Christian husband and maybe some kids running around in California. I didn’t have an exact timetable, and knew I would be wrong about some of the details, but that was generally what I expected.

I could not have been more wrong. The person I was ten years ago would look at the person I am now and say “Who the hell are you?”

That’s a good thing. One of the great joys of life is surprising ourselves by how we grow as people over time. I would have never expected myself to become an atheist, for instance, but this intellectual transformation has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Not all of those surprises are pleasant, of course. Quite frankly, most of mine haven’t been. But with as little wisdom as I have, I can tell that the unpleasant surprises were coming down the pipe sooner or later. I’m thankful for the opportunity to face these challenges instead of going through the motions for decades while the riptide sucked me under.

#3: Other People Will Surprise You with How They Change Too

When we are young, our cultures pump our heads full of notions about the way things work in the world. For me, in an upper-middle-class all-American suburb, those notions included axioms like:

  1. Kids who do drugs and have sex will grow up to be miserable pregnant junkies and kids who stay sober and sexless will be rich and have happy marriages.
  2. Kids who go to community college (or heaven forbid, do not go to college) will be poorer and sadder than kids who go to private and prestigious schools.
  3. Nothing is more important than your academic or athletic scholarship.
  4. Kids who say they want to become artists are delusional and kids who say they want to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, and businessmen are impressive and responsible.

When I graduated high school, all these notions swirled together in my head like operating principles in an algorithm. The algorithm — my preconceived notions — produced predictions about how people would do in life. That girl will end up an alcoholic. That guy will end up a junkie. That girl, on the other hand, she’s clearly going places.

Not a single person in my little prediction matrix has had the life I expected them to have. Not even me. I wasn’t entirely wrong about everything, of course, but my accuracy was no better than random chance.

This realization is freeing because it frees me from having to worry about the next ten years. Maybe my alcoholic friends will get sober. Maybe my friends will get out of bad marriages. Maybe my shitty exes will have epiphanies about how they treated me when I least expect it. And, sadly, maybe my friends with money and happy marriages will find these things ripped out from underneath them.

Not having any clue how the future will turn out gives me every reason to believe I have a bright and hopeful future as long as I keep making forward progress and don’t give up.

#4: You Can Expect the Unexpected

If there’s one thing the last ten years taught me, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Sure, there’s the expected unexpected. Parents get cancer and dementia, people get in car accidents, people change careers. We never know when these things will happen, or exactly which of them will happen to us, but we expect them to come down the pipe sooner or later.

Then there’s the unexpected unexpected. A small investment you make goes gangbusters and you become crypto rich. The world is engulfed in a pandemic. You are sexually assaulted in an elevator.

Then there’s another level! Your gangbusters crypto riches divide your family, close friends sue you, and your life blows apart. A COVID near-death experience causes you to question what you’re doing with your life. Going to therapy after getting sexually assaulted finally teaches you the emotional skills you’ve been missing all your life.

One of my favorite proverbs encapsulates this lesson.

A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The villagers cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury. Friends shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

The unexpected is a gift. It shakes us out of our routine and shows us things about life we would have never realized otherwise.

If there were one thing I could pray for, it would be a guarantee that my life would continue to be full of interesting surprises that help me grow.

#5: You Will Keep Getting Wiser as Long as You Don’t Give Up

I don’t know why this happens, but sometimes people give up. They get stuck in a particular mindset or way of life and they don’t change much, even over ten or twenty years.

Other people don’t stay stuck. They continue to grow and develop as people. Nobody grows at the same pace at the same time — we have seasons of growth and seasons of settling — but those of us who grow continue to do so indefinitely.

There’s an easy way to tell if you’re one of the people who continuously grows or if you’re someone who’s stagnated.

Call to mind a challenge you faced five years ago. Can you identify ways you could have done better? And I don’t mean “God damnit I wish I said thus-and-such to that asshole.” I mean, can you identify ways you were in the wrong?

Basically, what I’m asking is, do you have regrets?

You’ve heard people say it before: “Live without regrets!” But the only way to live without regrets is to have a mindset that never changes. If you’re maturing as a new person, gaining new wisdom and insight every year, it is inevitable that you will look back and say “Wow, if I knew then what I know now, I would have acted differently.”

In Conclusion

Given all the different variables at play in the world, most of which you are not aware of and will never become aware of, there is plenty of reason to hope your life will be better ten years from now.

If you continue to grow as a person and improve your ability to make decisions and act effectively in the world, the positive impact of your better decisions will accumulate. You’ll wake up one day ten years from now and think “Wow, I am so much better off than I was before.” All this can happen for you if you refuse to give up.