Turn the Page

by Roger A. Reid – SuccessPoint360

Back in grade school, I took the dreaded “achievement test,” a standardized group of questions with separate sections on Math, English, Social Studies, and Science. The test was timed and at the bottom of each page, the instructions “Go On to the Next Page” made it clear the student was to keep working until finally reaching the last page of the section, which contained the single word, STOP – in big, bold letters.

The actual content of the test—and the grade I received—has long left my memory. But those big, bold words at the bottom of each page have resurfaced many times over the years. Especially after taking a devastating hit in business, suffering the loss of a family member or close friend, or losing an important personal or professional relationship.

Even though the symbolic connection is obvious—to let go of the past or resign a negative situation to history and move on—I made the metaphor even more effective by streamlining the original phrase to a simplified, “Turn the Page,” and developed a set of guidelines to derive the most benefit from the process.

  1. Never move on until you’re certain you’ve looked at everything on the page. So many of us work through our daily to-do list with blinders on – missing the details, overlooking the things that could make a real difference in our day. It might be the smile you didn’t see, the greeting you didn’t hear, the expectant glance that hid the nervous need to ask a question. Instead of drifting through life in a fog—distracted by cell phones, iTunes, or Facebook—be more aware of what’s going on around you. Experience the victories and achievements, both large and small, whether celebrated by you, a co-worker, or a family member. Likewise, learn from the mistakes, the false starts, and the unscrupulous actions of others. Be mindful of the constant flow of ups and downs that are a part of every day.
  2. After you turn the page, there is no looking back. It was a cardinal rule the teacher ruthlessly enforced—I was never allowed to review, correct, or change my work from a previous section. Whatever I had done, it was permanent and couldn’t be erased. Starting a new day turns the page, and there’s no going back to revise or correct the mistakes. Knowing there are no “do-overs” underscores the importance of paying close attention to the choices we make, the conversations we have, and the priorities we establish. So choose wisely, and if you make a mistake, remember the situation and circumstances that influenced your decision. Then use that information on a future page.
  3. When you’re done with the page, move on. It’s tempting to hold onto the hurt and resentment that comes our way. It’s like an unpaid debt we need to collect—calculated in emotional baggage instead of money. But life is a timed event, and staying on any one page for too long reduces the total number of pages you can complete. Instead of holding anger and bitterness inside—which reduces the quality of our lives—deal with negative people and situations as best you can, then move on. Make a conscious decision to end the day with a plan to make tomorrow productive and meaningful.
  4. Sometimes, you don’t know the answer. And that’s okay. You can research past and similar situations, or obtain advice from those with more experience or training. But sometimes, even that won’t be enough. You simply won’t know the right choice until you can look back with perspective. So if you have to make a decision without the luxury of additional time, use your instinct. What is your gut telling you? Occasionally, the best we can do is to make a sensible guess. And sometimes, you may have to leave something blank. But that’s okay, because you don’t know what’s waiting for you until you Turn the Page.