Don’t Let Your Past Limit Your Power to Create A New Future
Use these three questions to create the design criteria for your new life.
Episode 33 - Don’t Let Your Past Limit Your Power to Create A New Future
I haven’t been back to my old hometown in years.
The last time I was there, I felt like I was visiting a graveyard — a place with lots of buried memories and rows after row of headstones. It wasn’t long before I began to feel uncomfortable and I wanted to leave.
A lot of it had to do with the recollection of things I’d left unfinished — all those incomplete plans, the dreams that never came true, and too many lost relationships. And as I looked back, I know that most of those things ended up that way because of the choices I made.
Some of those choices were influenced by the fact that I grew older, I lost interest, and I simply moved on. But there’s a question that keeps nagging at me, expecially when I think about the future, and the things that I want to, the things I want to accomplish with the time I have left.
Can I really move forward without taking care of the regrets that still haunt me from some of those early decisions?
Hey, welcome back. This is Roger Reid with another episode of success point 360.
I’ll admit there’s a lot more I could have done with my youth — more productive things, activities that could have been used as stepping stones to an ultimate destination. But at the time, I had no idea where I really wanted to go. Like most of my generation, I followed the path of those who came before me.
You know the drill: Get an education. Get a job. Buy a car. Buy a house. Find a wife.
Kids were optional but expected.
It worked for a while, until I realized every new day of my life was frighteningly similar to the one preceding it. With each passing year, I noticed very little was changing. And the things that used to pique my interest with possibility had become vague, hazy reminders that my life was not turning out the way I’d hoped.
The good news?
It forced me to question the choices I’d made and what I was doing with my life. Specifically, I asked myself three questions: (1) Where was my life headed? (2) Who would I eventually become? (3) Is that how I want to be remembered?
If you’re a regular listener to the podcast, you know that the last three episodes have been about deciding what changes we want to make in our lives, and putting together a plan to make those changes happen.
The most common name for this process is called goal setting. And because we’re in the habit of looking at our life as blocks of time, we usually consider the first of the year to be the ideal time to make new choices, and to change our direction and priorities.
Traditionally, we think about replacing the things in our life that no longer work, replacing them with new options that we hope will bring us greater financial security, or better relationships, or bring a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction into our lives.
Part of the process of setting new objectives is to take a look back, especially at the things that didn’t work, the things we tried to do but failed to accomplish. We may even pull out last year’s list of objectives, to determine what’s still important to us, and what’s lost its appeal. In other words, we compare our current priorities to those we established in the past, to see what’s changed – and how we’ve changes.
And we do it, because time can have a very powerful influence on what we want to acquire, to accomplish, and what we’re willing to give up to make those things a reality.
And so we make the comparison – between the events of our past and an imagined future that we hope will provide us with more satisfaction, more freedom, more happiness. Then we put together a plan to move us from where we are to where we want to be.
And while the intention is to create new goals, new destinations, with the overall end-game to improve our current professional and personal situation, those objectives are built on the shadow of our past. It’s as if our yesterdays are the foundation for our future. It’s our highs and lows, our disappointments and surprises, our accomplishments and failures that are always in the background, always influencing our options and possibilities. And ultimately, it’s the past that influences and impacts our decisions to take action, to make the changes we believe will make a real difference in our future.
That’s why the first place we often look for answers is in the past — searching for those times when we were still excited about the future and the possibilities it held.
In my situation, I decided if I was going to break the “Groundhog Day” cycle my life had become, I needed to take an in-depth look at the decisions I made that ultimately put me where I’d ended up. And hopefully, those memories would furnish a few clues to creating a new life plan.
I started by making a list of my earliest core interests, and how they might translate into new career possibilities. The process eventually reduced those three soul-searching questions . . .
Where was my life headed, Who would I eventually become, and, is that how I want to be remembered, into a set of guidelines, which ultimately became the design criteria for my future.
Since then I’ve refined and tweaked them a little, but the core concepts remain unchanged. Think of them as the starting point to reshape your life with choice, transition, and change.
Here’s the first one: Count the cost
How much of your past was the result of living to please someone else? Admittedly, we often follow the suggestions and recommendations of others because our own plan is hazy, lacks detail, or seems risky.
And it’s difficult to say “no” to a well-meaning parent, family member, or a friend who offers a plan that’s organized, sensible and represents a proven path to success. But if turns out to be a strategy that’s missing your input or your values and intentions, it’s going to be a useless, time-wasting detour.
Living someone else’s plan is the fastest way to create a hollow, empty life that leaves you comfortably miserable. If your past was spent satisfying the needs of others, now is a good time to change your direction.
Here’s number two:
Use the past as motivation to take action — to stop doing the things that no longer work for you, and try something different.
Time never stops. And soon, each of us will arrive in a place called Old.
It’s our common destination. No matter how we choose to live or what we decide to do with our lives, we will grow old. All routes end up there, and the only alternative is an early death.
Ask yourself, “How does that fact affect your goals and objectives? Does it make them more or less important? If what you want to do is physically demanding, and you don’t do it NOW, will it be possible to do it later?
Even in our youth, we face a quickly closing window of time to accomplish something that requires great physical exertion or stamina. If you put it off another year, how will that affect the likelihood of accomplishment? More importantly, how will you feel if you arrive at a point in life when your goal is no longer possible?
Approach this realistically, rather than with platitudes that promise, “It’s never too late to do what you want to do.” Because in some cases, it is too late . . .
There are very few seventy-five-year-old ballet dancers, and even fewer 80-year-olds who have climbed Mount Everest (in fact, in researching the question, I found there’s only one.)
So be realistic about your capability, especially if your goals involve physical strength, endurance, and stamina.
Number three: Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a completely wasted past.
Many of our misdirected efforts were necessary to bring us to where we are today. Some may have been learning experiences, making us better prepared to take the next step into the future. Others were necessary to give us clarity about what we don’t want in our lives — and were essential in preparing us to recognize the same red flags, providing us with an internal early warning system, so we know when to steer clear of situations that will ultimately turn out to be unrewarding or unproductive.
And don’t forget to acknowledge your past accomplishments. Most who commit to making a life transition rarely acknowledge their past milestones — especially the hidden ones. The things that had to happen along the way to reach a goal. You did it then – you can do it now. Just take the time to appreciate what it means to have completed something important . . . important because you dedicated time and resources to the exclusion of other pursuits to make it happen.
Along the same mindset, I also think it’s important to look back and remember your circumstances when you first began your journey—the one that brought you where you are today. Acknowledge what you’ve learned, and how much better prepared you are to move forward in life. As you begin to count your past achievements, you may find it’s not the completion of the goal that counts, but what you had to become to accomplish it.
Here’s number four: Your Goals change because life changes.
Making the decision to change your career goals or life direction doesn’t mean you failed at becoming whatever it was you initially wanted to be.
Our plans bend and reshape themselves. And yet, here’s what’s surprising: While new goals often look completely different than our original objectives, the outcome and the effect on our lives — whether measured in money, a great relationship, or a healthy mind and body — are often very similar to what we were trying to achieve initially. They’re just dressed in a different outfit.
Maybe we didn’t set out to be a corporate vice-president or the owner of a successful online business, but in the end, we were able to create the kind of life that allowed us to feel the way we hoped to feel and to have the experiences we wanted because we found an alternative route to get what we wanted.
Here’s number five, the final suggestion: Some of the messages that we recognize as being sent from our past have to be ignored.
Especially those encouraging us to return to our old comfort zones. When the challenges come, it’s tempting to return to our former lives, a time when things were less stressful and less demanding. But that’s only because we’ve forgotten how frustrating and empty we felt.
We decided to leave our old life because we knew there had to be more, and remaining where we were — working at a dissatisfying job, living in a toxic relationship — was no longer acceptable.
So we took action. We made changes. We ignored the pleas from friends and family who tried to coax us to stay the course because it was “good enough.”
Leaving our comfort zone takes sacrifice, focus, and dedication. But the rewards can make the difference between a life of mediocrity and one filled with purpose and satisfaction.
I’ll leave you with this…..
When you take that look back, your past may reflect satisfying reminders of time well spent, or it may reveal years of virtual captivity — imprisoned in limbo, working at a job you didn’t like, living with a spouse or partner who left you constantly drained and angry, or feeling like you’re always being manipulated into serving others whose values and beliefs were completely different than your own.
But good or bad, let the past serve you. Especially as you begin to reshape your life and bring it into alignment with your true values and priorities.
Forty years ago, “working for the man” meant a job for life. And your personal value? That was reflected by your monthly paycheck.
In the most literal sense, the purpose of “working for a living” was to generate money—to buy food, pay for housing, buy a car and take a two week vacation once a year. The other metrics of a satisfying career, things like making a contribution and being recognized for doing outstanding work, they just weren’t as important as building tenure and getting annual but small increases in income. A successful career was based on a simple mantra: Show up on time, put in the hours, and go home. And then, repeat for thirty years.
Thankfully, things have changed.
Today, there are many people who work for a corporation because they choose to. And they enjoy the benefits of an Immediate and consistent income and the personal credibility that comes with being associated with a large and successful organization. Younger employees find the corporation as a place to grow and prove themselves. Add the benefits of company supported investment plans, health insurance, and wellness options, you’ll begin to see why the corporation continues to be the first choice for new college grads as well as job changing executives.
I’m sure some of you have realized that this is a commercial for my new book, “Better Mondays—The New Rules For Creating Financial Success and Personal Freedom While Working for the Man!”
I wrote it for a specific audience, a select group who are ready to utilize the advantages of the corporation to achieve financial success and increase their satisfaction with their career and personal life.
And I want to assure you that this is not a book about business theory, or another collection of essays on goal setting or resource management. Think of it as a tool-kit, a set of guidelines to help you negotiate more money, to get a promotion, and more recognition to move you further along the fast track in the shortest time possible.
Conversely, if you’re happy where you are and don’t want to move up, you’ll need to convey the right message –the one that says you’re indispensable right where you. And you’ll learn how to do that the right way.
If you’ve come to the decision that you’re in the wrong place, the wrong division, or you find yourself working for the wrong boss, Better Mondays will provide you with the tools to move from where you are to where you want to be, using the technique of strategic transitioning.
And if you’re suffering from burnout, or feel like you’ve become stuck in the system and are no longer invested in the work, you can turn your situation around by learning how to manage the relationships that influence career success. Because it’s not always about the black and white concepts of productivity or meeting a quota.
My goal in writing Better Mondays was to help you create financial success while deriving meaning and satisfaction from your work. If that makes sense to you, go to Amazon, open up the search tab, and type in Better Mondays by Roger Reid.
You can also read the first chapter for free. It’s on my web site at www.successpoint360.
Hey, that’s it for this episode. If you have a question or comment, you can leave me a voicemail on the website. The voicemail tab is located in the main header.
Thanks for listening, and I‘ll see you next time.
© 2021 Roger Reid. All Rights Reserved.
For more information about the author, his work, or to subscribe to this podcast, visit www.SuccessPoint360.com
Contact the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure and check out my new book now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. It’s titled Better Mondays: The New Rules for Creating Financial Success and Personal Freedom (While Working For the Man)
I’ve lowered the price for the Kindle version, so if you or someone you know is struggling with a job that doesn’t provide anything more than a paycheck, or you’re ready to use your employer as a launching pad to start your own business, you’ll find the tools you need to take control of your professional success and to change your life for the better.
You can find more information on my website, www.successpoint360.com. I’ve posted the first chapter on the site as a free read, so I encourage you to take a look.