Society teaches us to avoid looking back at the past. Thought leaders have said things like, “Don’t look back because you are not going that way,” and, “Don’t let your past ruin your future.” While the context behind these motivational quotes is understandable (don’t think about bad things that happened. Continue living in the present and achieving greatness), they indicate that looking back at the past can never be useful.
I look back at the past, and I look back at it often. I would go as far to say that looking back at the past has made me a better individual in various areas in the present. Looking at the past can spark motivation and lead to higher achievement. Here are three ways that looking back at the past can propel you forward:
#1: Look Back At Some Of Your Disappointments
I agree that looking back at disappointments can have a negative impact on our futures. The grudges people hold to themselves for many years can affect their performances in life. Just by thinking about the grudges, some people lose their productivity and produce less valuable work.
However, some of the disappointments we have encountered in life can be building blocks towards our success.
There are runners who get motivated to work harder by thinking about their disappointments. I ran one of my mile races in 5:00.00 which is as close to a sub-five mile as anyone can get. Half a stride. That would have made the difference. Luckily, I ran a mile in under five minutes before this race, but the thought of being that close and not breaking five minutes was a disappointment.
It is now a disappointment that I think as I approach the final lap of some of my races (if my mind is not preoccupied with other things). In many indoor and outdoor races, especially the shorter races, a final sprint to the finish line is the difference between a new individual best time and just another time. Thinking about that 5:00.00 mile gives me an incentive to push harder, because I never want to miss my goal by one millisecond ever again.
#2: Look Back At Your Successes
Many individuals are so focused on the present and achieving better results that they forget about the results they have already achieved. Many individuals spend more time thinking about how they will get ahead instead of going back and thinking of how thankful they were when they got a desired result.
When I got that 5:00.00 mile, I was disappointed at that moment. Soon after the race, I thought about the time I ran the mile in under five minutes. Then, I felt a new sense of motivation that affected how fast I ran in workouts and how seriously I took core workouts at the end of practices.
On the business side, I am always thinking of moving forward. Sometimes, I think of moving so far forward that I think about what I do not have instead of the things that I do have. Sometimes, I forget all of the work it took me to grow my social media audience and how grateful I was when I hit certain milestones. Looking back at my past accomplishments allows me to increase my feeling of self-worth (which by no means is low, but everyone needs a pinch of the feeling of self-worth as often as possible), and my feeling of self-worth is one of the core components that made my journey possible.
#3: Look Back At Your Past Ideas
Have you ever had the moment when you scribble a bunch of ideas on a piece of paper, but you couldn’t implement them all? As you open up more time for yourself, you will also have more time to start your past ideas.
The more you scribbled on that piece of paper, the more likely one of your ideas is to be brilliant. Even if your piece of paper does not have a brilliant idea, one idea you wrote on a piece of paper can spark the inspiration for a brilliant idea. Many businesses that fall apart inspire other ones to rise above the rubble and thrive (that’s how Twitter was created).
Many thought leaders constantly say that looking back at past experiences can hinder your future. Some people recommend not looking back at your past all together. Although our pasts have their fair share of bad experiences, our pasts also have their fair share of incredible experiences. We all have accomplishments that we need to be thankful of. As more goals get pushed back, self-worth goes down, but if we call back all of the thoughts that make us feel self-worthy again, then we will have the motivation we need to accomplish more goals.
What are your thoughts on looking back at your past? Do you look back at your past to motivate yourself? Please share your thoughts below.