7 Ways to Make the Past a Platform Not a Roadblock
The past is a dark, dissatisfying place.
I can’t resist the temptation, at this time of year, to look back and forward at the same time. There’s nostalgia, anticipation, sadness, gratitude, and hope.
Looking back feels more like sand in my underwear than cotton candy and Ferris Wheels. My shadowy companion continually whispers, “You fell short,” and “That’s not good enough.”
I’m afraid that accepting the past results in complacency. In my world, complacency is the vilest, most intolerable, disgusting evil imaginable.
Note to self about the past:
- Think about who you’re becoming and where that person takes you. What new advantages do you have because you’ve grown? How can you better serve others?
- Savour relationships. The bright spot, in an otherwise dark past, is relationships with people you love and respect, and who respect you. It isn’t new accomplishments, but people who brighten the past. It’s always who before what. (Prioritize people next year.)
- Own offenses. Say, “I was wrong. Will you forgive me.” Nothing lightens the load like forgiveness. Pretending you have it all together is like living with pockets full of rocks.
- Forgive others their shortcomings. Don’t wait for them to ask. Clinging to the weaknesses and shortcomings of others is like a dog pulling on it’s leash. Draw a line in the sand and set that dog free. Just let go. Don’t even tell them. (Help others find and live in their strengths. Compensate for their weaknesses.)
- Focus on things within your control. The past isn’t one of them. Nothing brightens life more than finding some small thing within your control. This is true of organizations as well. (People are not within your control.)
- Address repeated frustrations or they’ll get worse next year.
- You love to start. What should you stop?
What note about the past would you write to yourself?
How can the past become a platform rather than a roadblock?
Great thoughts for this time of year.
I think that, with the past, as well as the present and future, we have a choice as to what we bring our attention and focus to.
The stuff that could grind us from our past, viewed and used appropriately, is the very stuff that we can use to enhance our current level of awareness/growth—or is what can hold us back from further growth—depending on our attitude and perspective.
Seeing the goodness in our past sometimes takes practice, and because of how the brain and mind work, we need to build momentum in a practice of seeing the good, so that it becomes easier, and our past delivers more of its richness.
My only use for the past is to mine its richness, to enhance my now, and my future. Whenever I get stuck there for any other reason, it’s a wake up call, and I know I need some time for renewal.
Accepting the past need not mean complacency, for in my mind, the true cure for complacency is a new dream, preference, desire, that is connected to who I am, and that I want to get up and move forward for. 🙂
Often the whips we think motivate us, are actually robbing energy, because they distract us from what we really want out of the very direction we’ve chosen to take.
I like your advice on thinking about who we’re becoming.
I take it a step further and spend some time with my future self in meditation.
Who would I like to be 5 years from now? 10 years from now? I did this years ago, and I am now that person I imagined. I need to refresh on a regular basis. Before a make a big choice: is this aligned with the person I want to become? Will that person look back on this and appreciate this choice?
Thanks Mark. I find your insights uplifting. The power of focus along with interpretation of the past seems most powerful to me. When we think back, what’s the focus and how do we interpret it.
One thing my coach taught me about the past is it does provide you with the right perspective. I too often looked out into the future and saw what I hadn’t yet accomplished and this would mire me down in a bit of gloom and despair. She coached me to appreciate more how far I had come – and only the past could give that to me.
Ultimately, this has led to a more mindful and purposeful approach and a far greater appreciation for being in the moment. The past then becomes like a treasured memento box; with the future remaining an opportunity for even greater memories to come. For me, this is what links me to the first point – “think about who you’ve become and how much better you can serve others”.
Look to the past with fondness, appreciation and grace. Soak in the triumphs while properly reflecting on the tragedies – but don’t get stuck there. Use it to move forward so that the “next past” – the upcoming future – is lived even more fully.
Lay the past to rest
In the present find the best
Believing that your future in the now is blessed.
Your honesty is the best Dan 🙂
Thanks Imelda. One of the most powerful ideas I have about leadership is “the future is now.” By the time the future gets here, its too late to create or change it.
Funny thing of late Dan I have been dallying with the power of thought.
I think the power of the energy of thought is a greater force field at work in our lives than we give credit to dependent on our own innate makeup. The imbalances created in our lives either directly or indirectly is magnified by the desire to do based on our short term V long term thinking processes and dependent on that make up in an individual will determine the most powerful hold over one. Maybe that is why some people happily get on with it in a more balanced way …. maybe.
Thanks Alf. The idea of focus on progress vs. perfection comes to mind. I also thought, as I read, that it’s good to extend the compassion we extend to others to ourselves. We should treat ourselves at least as good as we treat the people in our lives that we love.
Without examination and conscious thought, the past will likely repeat itself. The examination should end with a lesson that moves us forward.
Mark Petruzzi makes a very good point – this is a perfect time of year for this post! Nothing like the promise of a new year to examine where we are and where we have been.
Thanks Dianna, Yes, there’s something about December that calls us to reflect on the past and look into the future. It seems the main purpose of the past is instruction. 🙂
Your post brings several thoughts to mind. The first is that I view the past so differently. For me, my past is a reassurance that I learned (for the most part) from my mistakes; so my view to the past is one of gratitude — I’ve gone through some bad times, made some terrible mistakes, and am a better person because of it.
I think your “Note to self about the past” points are not only important to consider when we look back, but also to keep in the forefront as we proceed through our present. Practically every one of these are good reminders for us to use right now, today.
Personally, I am not an end-of-year-retrospective-type person. I think it’s important to constantly reflect on where we’ve been, how we’ve handled our lives and work, and where we can become better at it.
Thanks for your great, thought- (and conversation-) provoking posts.
Thanks Scott. I aspire to be like you. 🙂
Your suggestion about reflect is profoundly important. The one practice that has resulted in the most change and fulfillment in my journey is the practice of self-reflection on a daily basis. This post is the result of reflection as was yesterdays and the day before…and so on and so on… In the end, we must see it before we change it.
” let my history then
be a gate unfastened
and not a barrier
to my becoming”
Poet David Whyte
Thanks Nancy. Wonderful!!
A self-introspection and the lessons from the past are the right things to review at a year end! Liked all 7 points by way of learning and safeguard the new period.
The identified shortcomings in my nature and behavior which became the roadblocks in my progress will be the focal area for me to control in future. Missed opportunities can freshly be tried with better people management. I shall try to strengthen my relations with all those who have been helpful and supportive in my personal and professional accomplishments.
Better ways of utilizing time and adding to the useful knowledge and skills can be prioritized areas of my concentration. Keeping good health and having a fortified energy will help in feeling young and working with creativity & positive mind.
Loved your post. Like many people my childhood and middle years were less than ideal because of a family situation. For far too many years, my insecurities about those years carried over into a lack of self-confidence. When I finally was able to release the pain and look back only with a sense of success at what I had accomplished, I was able to move forward, give myself credit, and use the lessons of the past as a springboard to the future. I now use my reflection time not to feel sorry for myself, but to reinforce my worth, talent and contributions. This happens regularly, not just at year end.
Our past experiences should teach us a lot. I know someone whose past they would like to bury, but that is not a good choice. They don’t want to learn from their past they want to pretend it never existed. For myself I find many good lessons in my past. Some failures and some successes that can teach me a great deal. I want to make my 2015 great that is why I wrote about this in #AliveIN1-5. I hope I can help others meet their goals!