It’s Hard to Envision Your Future when You’re Focused on Your Past

By now, I certainly hope you have figured out how much I love quotes and sayings. They sometimes may seem contrived or even pithy, but even if they are, we like them, memorize them, and most importantly, remember them. Therefore, I offer for your initial amusement, followed by a knowing acceptance, finished with a nod of gratitude the following: 

Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery.

Before you accuse me of being Captain Obvious, allow me to expound slightly. Why do we (which most definitely includes I) spend so much time worrying, wishing, and wasting time thinking about the past? For that matter, ditto for the future. I have some ideas which I hope you will consider and then follow me in directing your focus where it belongs.

First, let’s focus on forgetting the past. I have to confess, that I often struggle here. I replay decisions, conversations, choices, outcomes, and dozens of other things way too often. So do a lot of other people that I have the opportunity to speak to and serve. The fact of the matter is, that the past has a lot to teach us by not by wishing we could go back and change it. The best way to use the past is to learn from it and use it to make sure the future is better. 

If we only focus on our failures and shortcomings and never learn anything from the past, then we truly should be sorry. I have to admit it took me a long time to embrace the concept of embracing failure. Like many others, I treated failure as if it was an unpardonable sin. Once I learned to take my failure and allow it to create a desire for improvement, rather than regret for my missteps, my attitude towards it changed dramatically.

Now, while I still think it is more productive to focus on your future rather than your past, there are some pitfalls there that must be avoided as well. Just as with the past, our tendencies can be to mistake the benefits the future has to offer us. If we were to have a conversation today, I suspect if I asked you, or you asked me, about our attitudes or prospects for the future might include a hope or a dream, but most likely we would be consumed about all of our worries and fears.

The truth is, all of the things that we worry about, lose sleep about, and stress about in the future rarely happen. In fact, even our dreams and aspirations often do not turn out the way we hope and plan. Some things that we worry about never come to pass at all, and others may come but are often not nearly as difficult as we had imagined. The point is you have no control over what is going to happen except to the extent that you do something about it today. 

Of course, you can impact the future by what you do today. This day is full of choices that you can make that will directly have an impact on tomorrow. Your health (physical, mental, etc.), your wealth, your joy, your relationships, and numerous other things can be better tomorrow because of the choices you make today.

Use today for all it’s worth. Let the mistakes and failures of the past drive you towards more success and let the hope of a better future be created by each and every choice you make today. If you can do those two things today and every day, you can look with joy at everything you do and know that you lived your best life.

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