Several years ago, I was talking with one of my colleagues about a project he was thinking about taking on. We were both solidly in the middle of our careers, but his evaluation of the possible project surprised me. He said, “There are a limited number of things that I’ll be able to say I’ve done in my career, and I’m just not convinced that this should be one of them.”
What struck me about this conversation is that it took a backward-looking perspective. That is, my colleague projected himself to the end of his career and looked backward over his contribution.