A part of Carl Jung's contribution to the world of psychology, is his concept of "archetypes". From Wikipedia:
In Jungian psychology, archetypes are highly developed elements of the collective unconscious. Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by examining behavior, images, art, myths, religions, or dreams. Carl Jung understood archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world. They are autonomous and hidden forms which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures.
Strictly speaking, Jungian archetypes refer to unclear underlying forms or the archetypes-as-such from which emerge images and motifs such as the mother, the child, the trickster, and the flood among others. It is history, culture and personal context that shape these manifest representations thereby giving them their specific content. These images and motifs are more precisely called archetypal images.
I read an interesting article a while back that talked about "personal brands" from this Jungian archetypal perspective.
It's a very fascinating concept. These sorts of constructs are of course nothing more than categorizing or organizing observations into containers from which we generalize. However, I think it's interesting to observe how truly some of the archetypes in the linked article are similar.
There's always so much to do. Every task that is completed falls into the category of "repeating event" that will simply have to be performed again as entropy sets in (cleaning, cooking, personal hygiene -- such as it is, etc.) or "nice try" which was simply an imperfect and increasingly simplistic appearing attempt at a solution. To some extent you're stuck with the repeating events and must simply hurry and do them well enough to at least stay in place like the Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass. For everything else, there's a sense of struggle to churn out something that's really superior. You want the best and you constantly strive for it. But you make imperfect relationships, imperfect software applications, imperfect decisions. As time goes by you can review (if you're depressed) the imperfections that trail behind you. The farther away ones are usually laughable, considering that at one time that was your best shot. The closer ones still seem reasonable but somewhat lacking. But of course as time goes by and they recede into the past as well you'll start to chuckle at them too.
So are things really getting better? Is the stress of "getting better" actually creating better results? The problem seems to be that the perception of your abilities on a continuum slides backwards at the same rate at which progress occurs. The more you learn and grow and "better yourself" the more you realize that you had previously overrated your knowledge, experience, and skills.
I don't think this means that we shouldn't try. But we should try to keep in mind that perfection is unattainable (here on Terra Firma at least) and if we're humbled by looking at our mistakes from 1 or 5 or 10 years ago, then consider that 1 or 5 or 10 years from now we'll likely be just as humbled looking back to what we're doing or thinking or speaking (or writing in a blog) right now.
I know this isn't much of an "essay" but it made for a cutesy title. I'm sure I'll think better of the idea later.