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Paige Waehner

Lesson of the Week: Is the Past Holding You Back?

By January 2, 2013

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We may be focused on the future as we transition to a new year, but the past often comes back on us no matter what we do. In fact, many of us use the past as a way to punish ourselves.

Maybe you look back to who you used to be and think, "Man, I was in such great shape when I was in my 20s. I've really gone downhill since then." Or maybe you look back and think of all the ways you've failed in the past year. Maybe you didn't lose any weight or, worse, maybe you gained weight.

Lingering in the past can leave you stuck in the present. Yes, maybe you were in better shape in your 20s, but who wasn't? Your life is different now and so are you. Maybe you used to run 10 miles or workout for 2 hours back then, but right now? That probably won't work for your body or your mind.

Thinking about this, how does the past affect your present? Is it holding you back? Are you dwelling on past mistakes or weight lost failures? If so, how can you stop ruminating on the past and focus on right now?

One idea is to do this: Set aside some time in the next few days and write down all of the things you accomplished in the past year, no matter how small. Add to the list as you think of things and refer to it often to remind yourself of one important fact: You can get things done. Now, when you hear that voice from the past telling you that you're a failure, you have proof that you're not: A list of your successes.

Look at that list as you think of the coming year and the things that you want to accomplish, whether you make resolutions or not. Refer to it whenever you start to question your abilities or when the doubts creep in. Use it to boost your confidence. And then use it to put the past to rest and focus on right now.

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