“You can never plan the future by the past.” – Edmund Burke
Looking toward the future is an exercise many are afraid to do, principally because they’re held captive by the past. With so much baggage carried forward, is it any wonder that plans sometimes get cast aside for fear they’d turn out to be failures, just like so many did before? This is shortsightedness in the extreme, for no momentum or traction can be gained when your eyes are firmly planted on the past.
“You are not today who you were yesterday.”
It takes a certain amount of courage to pull down the door on the past, particularly if those memories are recent, disastrous, and painful or one more in a long line of failures. But this is an important point to keep in mind: You are not today who you were yesterday.
Hopefully, you’ve learned from what didn’t work so
that you don’t endlessly repeat those mistakes. Having a good support system is also critically important as you draft plans for how you’ll go about completing goals you consider worthwhile.
But do give yourself some credit for having the tenacity to slog through some incredibly hard work. It’s rough going through failure and disappointment. It stings, saps your immediate energy and definitely puts a temporary damper on plans for the future.
You are here today, however, living testament to the restorative power within you. It’s time now to move ahead, look for new opportunities to get involved in, an interest that fires you up and you just can’t wait to pursue, and people whom you haven’t yet met who may provide that added spark that you need to take action.
What you really want to know, however, is what can you do now. Here are five tips on how to make plans – and stop thinking and obsessing over the past:
- Adopt a hopeful outlook.
Instead of condemning yourself to repeated failure, reverse that trend. Tell yourself that this is a new day and you are moving ahead with excitement and purpose. You may need to repeat this mantra daily for it to begin to take root – and it will, it you allow it.
- See the lesson in everything.
There’s always something valuable to learn from everything you do, regardless of the outcome. If you train yourself to find the kernel of wisdom in all your actions, you will boost your self-confidence and feel more empowered.
- Share what works with your network.
Even when plans don’t turn out to be completely successful at first, there are some aspects of your action that does work. Be willing to share what works with those in your network who support your efforts – and listen to the suggestions they offer. You might learn something incredibly valuable that will further your own efforts.
- Embrace change.
You may be fearful of change, likening it to past disastrous outcomes, but the truth is that life is filled with constant change. Without change, there would be no growth. Instead of fearing change, make it a point to embrace it, to eke every last bit of knowledge and opportunity from it and make it your own. When you are in charge – and you are – change doesn’t look as formidable. That’s because you’ve put change in your go-to bag and are running with it.
- Use the building-block approach.
A house doesn’t get built without going through many stages of construction. Similarly, achieving a successful outcome when working toward a goal almost always involves a number of steps. It isn’t just point A to point B. You may need to accommodate layers and a building-block approach. Capitalize on what you’ve learned and apply it to the next stage of development of your plan.
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