Blog by Tracy Stock, CSP
Letting go of something in your past can be difficult and you may not even realize why you’re hanging onto it. Perhaps you haven’t forgiven yourself yet for a past action or maybe enough time hasn’t yet passed from a painful experience; regardless, if you want to move your life forward, it’s very helpful to learn from your past, but then take conscious steps to forge ahead.
Step 1: Acknowledge what is keeping you stuck. Are you holding on to a failed relationship? Do you need to forgive someone? Do you feel guilty about a past decision?
Step 2: Identify why it’s important to move on. Ask yourself what your reasons are for wanting a change now. How will your life be altered? Will it positively affect your relationships? Will you feel a greater sense of peace?
Step 3: Focus on what you can control. Shift your focus away from other people and events outside of your control; instead, realize the only thing you control in life is your own actions and decisions. You can’t take back an unhealthy relationship, but you can learn from it. You can’t fix a bad childhood, but you can realize your past doesn’t equal your future.
Step 4: Set, capture and review goals. Identify both professional and personal goals for the year and be sure to put them in writing. Goals not written down are just wishes. Set goals annually, review monthly, apply weekly and prioritize daily.
Step 5: Be present. Enjoy the experience of the present moment. Put down your device, turn off the television, step away from your computer and engage in a thoughtful conversation, or watch a beautiful sunrise, or enjoy hearing a faint laugh in the distance. Learn to not dwell so much in the past or project too often into the future. As the famous saying goes: “Yesterday is history so stop living there. Tomorrow is a mystery and may never come. But today is a gift and that is why it is called the present.”
Step 6: Surround yourself with positive influences. Who you hang with you become. Letting go of the past is much more difficult if you are around people who constantly remind you about it. When I wanted to put my divorce in the rearview mirror, I chose to move across the country to start over. I wanted a fresh start with happy and optimistic people, new places and things to do and explore, and different + unique experiences from what I was used to.
Don’t continue to stumble over something behind you or let it direct your life forward. Everyone has stuff from their past they hoped didn’t happen. You simply can’t change it. Your past is like scrambled eggs; no matter how much you try, you can’t unscramble scrambled eggs. Resolve to focus on today with your eyes looking forward.