Past experiences greatly influence who we are today and who we will become. However, the way we view these past experiences can have an even greater impact. A positive perspective of the past is vital to a successful future.
Too many people choose to live in the past rather than learn from it. Living in the past is one of the biggest roadblocks to the life we are meant to live.
And the roadblocks are not always regret.
We all know at least one person who may have done something really cool back in the day. Unfortunately, this person seems to live in the past, frequently talking about how cool they used to be. The desire to relive the past distracts this person from the present where he could be building on his accomplishments and becoming an even more incredible version of himself.
Mike Ditka, Hall of Fame NFL player and coach, backs this up when he says “I don’t believe in living in the past. Living in the past is for cowards. If you live in the past, you die in the past.”
If you constantly think about the past, whether it’s with regret or with over-admiration, you’re not alone. Here are 3 actions that can lead to a mindset shift. Doing these things has helped me learn from my past and move on to building my future:
1. Identify the lesson
Analyze the past situation you find yourself thinking about.
First, take an inventory of how you feel. Do you feel sad, embarrassed, or stuck on an event that made a strong impression?
After that, take note of who was involved in this situation and how they contributed either to your success or your failure. Are any of these people still a big part of your life? If so, is having them in your life a net negative or a net positive? It may seem harsh, but this exercise is definitely worthwhile to learn who you can rely on to be successful.
Take note of your own choices and in addition, factors that led you to these choices. Personal relationships, health, stress, diet, family life, financial security, or lack thereof can all play a part in the choices we make.
Next, ask yourself how this past experience affects your life right now. What was the fallout- good or bad from this experience?
Finally, what would you do differently? This is where you should be able to identify the lesson that you can extract from the experience. If it was a positive experience that led to success, identify the steps that made it happen and replicate them. If it was a negative experience, determine the cause or causes of the failure and whether they were within your control. If so and you played a role in the failure, make the changes necessary and resolve to make a different choice next time.
Finally, the next step…
2. With gratitude, let it go
“When you actually deploy gratitude and empathy, you become numb to negativity which leads to pure offense and speed, which leads to results.” – Gary Vaynerchuck
Now that you have identified the lesson, it’s time to let go of the negativity. Recognize the positive. Obtaining knowledge is valuable and often, only achievable through experience.
Thank yourself for being honest and for showing yourself what’s been holding you back all this time.
With a grateful heart, give it all up and make a promise to yourself that you will move on, retaining the lesson gained.
Our past experiences don’t have to weigh us down with sadness or disappointment. Our past is what got us to this point in our lives. And in order to build a fulfilling future, we need to allow ourselves to learn from the past and leave it behind so we can move forward.
Show yourself grace for how you handled the past, and give yourself credit for what you have overcome. Trust yourself to grow into who you are becoming. Be grateful for the tough times. You can use all of the challenges that you have faced to help navigate your future with experience on your side.
“When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.” – Kristian Armstrong
3. Never Stop
The most successful people I know are always learning and progressing. These people aren’t satisfied with what they accomplished yesterday or 10 years ago. They are doing work in the present with faith in an even greater future.
They have coaches and mentors they invest in. They take courses and read books. They share what they learn so they can help others.
Most importantly, they don’t let the anxiety and apprehension from past negative experiences stop them. They also don’t allow the success of yesterday to define them. Their focus is not on the past but on tomorrow where they will build a bigger legacy and achieve even more success.
They don’t stop.
So don’t stop.
Listen to podcasts, apply the concepts from inspiring books, and allow those who have already accomplished great things to show you the way. Share what you’re learning as you go. “Learn, do, teach” is a powerful principle that can aid in solidifying new habits.
Soon, you’ll be among these successful people who never stop.
These are some tools that I have utilized to learn from my past experiences. Both the negative and positive, the failures and the successes always have something to teach us. Take the time to reflect, celebrate the wins, and grieve the losses. And then, move on. Our perspective on the past determines our future.
You can do this!