Getting caught in the past by thinking about what happened, what you wished you had said/done or just going over and over past events is a guaranteed way to hold yourself back. Yesterday has gone and no matter what you do you can’t get it back. On a positive note, you can learn from the past and use that knowledge and your experiences to shape what you do today. As no one is perfect mistakes will happen – sorry, no escaping that one. Bad things happen to good people, just as good people sometimes do bad things. If you chose to learn from the past, it can be a rich experience which can make you more effective, more compassionate and a better and more successful person too.
Every Moment of Each Day is an Opportunity
Today, although shaped by the past and how you have learned those lessons, is a new day. Every moment of each day is an opportunity. That opportunity means that you can put into practice new behaviours, go out and learn what you need to know and set yourself goals that you want to achieve. By focussing on being in today you are setting the scene for tomorrow. Doing what needs to be done today is not only satisfying but can be energising as it sets the possibilities for tomorrow.
Focussing on What Matters Today
However, it also means focussing on what matters today. If you keep thinking about yesterday or worrying about tomorrow, you are not using today as effectively as you could. This does not mean you can’t sit down and set yourself a goal for the future – far from it. What it does mean is that you need to ask yourself questions like “what have I learned?”, “What can I do now?“, “what would I like to be more effective at?”, “what’s missing?” and “what do I need to be doing/what help do I need to achieve my goal?”. Once you have answers to your questions living and experiencing today is crucial to not only your success but also your long-term happiness. It’s a case of being the best you can be today.
I see far too many people in my coaching and therapy practices that have come to realise they have spent so much time worrying about tomorrow or beating themselves up about the past that they never get to experience today. Once a day has reached its end you cannot get it back and so it becomes the past.
It is important to focus on the whole of you and not just your career. When was the last time you saw a sunset, smelled the spring air, took time to look at the trees, told a friend how special they were or had fun? If you can’t remember then you are in danger of not only missing out on getting the most out of today but also creating a better tomorrow. If your mantra is “if I work hard, then it will be better tomorrow” or “I have to work hard now and not see friends because I am building a better tomorrow” the danger is that you will wake up one day and feel that your life has passed you by regretting that you did not balance your personal needs with your desire to create success. Life is more than success – all the money and status in the world does not make up for being alone, having loved ones or memories of great times. You can’t get that time back again.
Today has a dual function as it is not only the culmination of all your yesterdays but is the stepping stone to your tomorrow. Today shapes tomorrow but it also needs to be valued as an entity in itself and one that passes every 24 hours.
Tomorrow Will Take Care of Itself
Tomorrow will take care of itself. If you have learned the lessons of your past experiences and spent time living in the today you will be shaping your tomorrow. Tomorrow builds upon both of these. All have their role and place. Hindsight is about learning, insight being what you know now because of the knowledge/experience you have gained and foresight is based on both. In Positive Psychology this is the yesterday, today and tomorrow concept with the focus on the now (today) as that shapes tomorrow.
Maybe it’s time to look at how you use your time and energy when it comes to thinking about and experiencing your yesterday, today and tomorrow. Where are you are putting your energies? Are you using each to its best advantage and if not, why not use today to set things right for you.