Looking back to look ahead: rear view mirror checks

I don’t believe it’s wise to live your life in the past and I encourage you to remain focused on today. However, I know that focusing on the past, that could’ve been can cause despair but solely focusing on the future with anxiety, can cause paralysis. But to live fully is to live in the moment, right now.

The burning question is how to cope with the despair that comes from past experience and move forward successfully by continuing in the moment without creating anxiety?

Here is the secret: glance in the rearview mirror. Sounds easy and it is. In order to remain focused on future performance, goals, dreams and desires with positivity, it’s critical to periodically glance in the rear view mirror at past performance.

Let’s consider the analogy of driving a car and for added intrigue, driving across the prairies where you can see forever (or so it seems). It can be a tiring drive watching fields pass beside you and only more field and pavement ahead, most times it doesn’t feel like you’re even making progress. But with a quick look in the mirror you can see the distance you’ve put between you and your start; you see your progress.

That’s life: wondering if you’re getting anywhere and questioning if you’re really moving toward your goals. Take a minute. Pause and look in the rear view mirror. Consider your accomplishments, big and small. Here are a few things to help:

Flip through an old journal or past “to do lists”. As you already know, I’m an advocate of lists for two reasons: (1) to get things done and (2) to remind myself of how much I’ve done. If you’re not already keeping one, why not start today? Simply write down the items you need to complete for that day. You can even start with, (1) make a to do list! The list will motivate you to take action and will elicit satisfaction each time you check a task off your list. Periodically going back and glancing at the accomplishments is a “great rear view mirror check” of seeing your progress!

Taking a moment to simply reflect on life over a past period of time will help in your pursuit of dreams. Think back over a period of time, a year, a few months even a few weeks. Those issues are gone. But you have grown from every misstep, every mistake and every challenge of the past. Through a quick glance, you’re provided a gentle reminder of your growth, your learning’s and accomplishments.

Think of milestones in your life; graduation, a new job, a new relationship, a marriage, a promotion and/or those tasks at home that you’ve accomplished. We all have many successful accomplishments in our past. Therefore, every accomplishment brings a job completed with lessons you can apply to your life today!

Life is a constant challenge; it can be confusing and full of wonder. I see this now through my children now 18 and 19. I see them transforming into young adults facing the grown-up challenges I remember seeming insurmountable as I adapted myself a few years ago. The issues that confront them are no different that the ones we all face. Each day new matters insert themselves in our life; there are two types: unexpected and planned. Regardless, we are all confronted with challenges, distractions, crisis and windows of opportunities. It’s never about the situation but what we do and how we handle it. And ultimately that “handling” is growth. Absolutely everything is relative. As individuals, the experience we possess is significant. No person has such that is smaller or bigger than the next person.

Glancing into the past through the rear view mirror, taking stock of your past performance is the secret to applying successful learning’s today; it will help you achieve your future dreams. The most important thing is that we all have the ability to make choices. So make the choice to carefully check your rear view mirror when you really need a push to look ahead.

“I do not like to repeat successes; I like to go on to other things”.

Walt Disney

© 2013-2014 R. Todd Millar. All rights reserved.

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