MOVING FORWARD Are you Past Focused or Future Focused?
I recently did a blog on Getting Past Your Past and I feel like I can’t talk enough about that topic because it is the biggest blocker of success that we all suffer with. So, a good way to move forward is to stop beating yourself up over your past. It sometimes feels like if we punish ourselves it will push us to make a positive change. Taking action and moving forward does not come from beating yourself up over your past or past actions. Remember in my last podcast I mentioned that your past is over and done with. The only place your past lives is in your mind and your thoughts. You have the power to rewrite your future.
Let’s look at how you interpret your past, which is anything that has happened up until this moment. Are you using all of those things that have happened, all the things that you have done or not done, to define yourself? Let’s start defining yourself by your future, instead of defining yourself by your past. Now think about that. So here is the thought, if you are defining yourself by your past, you are going to create more of your past.
I find that when I look at people that never can seem to move forward with anything in their lives, it just seems like I can predict exactly what's going to happen next year and the year after for them.
I think it is because they always live based on a repetitive thought pattern of what has happened in their past, which is what they think defines them. If you look at people who are always creating something new, always coming up with new ideas; they are basing themselves on the future.
Negative thoughts from the past are always recycled, so you're always thinking something that has always created a negative feeling that has created an action that may not have been desirable and that has created a result, good or bad. So, if you want to create something new, if you want to implement a new idea, you have to think a thought you have never thought before. The way to think a new thought is to shift your mind from thinking about the past, which is all recycled, to thinking about the future, which is all fresh and new.
It is more effort to think deliberately, to think about and create your future, than it is to just recycle your past. We tend to think our recycled thoughts from our past are our reality, but that is not true at all. You have the power and ability to create the kind of life that you want, by simply realizing that the past is exactly that, “past” and deliberately thinking new thoughts to create the kind of life you really want. It is not easy, but you cannot let your past define you, otherwise you get stuck in the spin cycle of past, negative thoughts which fogs up your ability to create new thoughts.
As Brooke Castillo explains: “The way that you know if you're thinking deliberately consistently is you will consistently have new results in your life. If you are always getting the same results, you're always thinking the same thoughts. Thoughts create feelings, create actions, create results. So, if you feel the same feelings, think the same thoughts, you're doing the same things, you're getting the same results, it's because you're not thinking deliberately enough.”
Here are the problems with being past focused.
1. You limit your potential by what you have been able to do in the past.
2. You explain your life by what happened in your past, your identity is pre-defined and hard to change.
3. You explain current behavior by your past and make it hard to change.
4. You make excuses based on past experiences.
5. You may use evidence from your past to identify as a victim in a situation.
The truth is that you can't go back. The past is over. For some of us, this is a blessing. The good news, however, is that the future is yours for the taking. How do you make that happen, you might be asking? Here is what my experience says, you need to take control of who you want to be. A past focused person will say things like: “That’s how I've always done it. That doesn't work for me. I've always had this issue my entire life. This is just how I am.” Those kinds of comments are what define a person by their past.
Start creating from your future and stop creating from your past. Get excited about the possibilities of what you could have in your life, rather than what you have never had in the past. You get to decide how to proceed because you are in control of your own life. If you find yourself blaming everyone and everything for how you feel and for your end results, that is a great place to start.
Let’s use an example, let’s say that you feel like you are not appreciated among your co-workers because they don’t invite you to work functions. You were told about the half day Friday outings at the beginning of the year, but you wanted to be invited personally by your co-workers so that you could feel better about attending and being part of the team. Each week that goes by, you feel less like part of the team and you become resentful. You want to blame someone or something for how YOU feel. You begin to gossip to others about how this group has been alienating you from the outings. You feel like if you get others to “see it your way” you will feel vindicated in some way. You have had this problem in your past with your family so your past thoughts will create that negative feeling which will make you act in that same, old way which will undoubtedly end with a negative result.
How can we turn this around and change the pattern of your past thinking? Rather than expect a personal invitation from your co-workers, you could have said, “can I get the schedule of the half day Friday outings so that I can put it on my calendar?” Then you are taking control of your outcome, you will be in attendance and likely having a great time. Your past behaviors may have lead your co-workers to believe that you are an unhappy or negative person which may have kept them away from you, giving you evidence that no one likes you. Changing your thought and behavior creates a positive end result.