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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Do not create frustration by looking in the past

One of the hardest lessons to learn is that the past is GONE!  What happened yesterday you may learn from but you will never change it.  Dwelling on the past is a very common issue that nearly everyone does.  The frustration caused by the constant looking behind you can change how you move forward.  Sometimes that is OK, but in many cases, it is not. 

I am as guilty as the next when focusing on lost opportunities or past mistakes.  It is easier to be pleased about all the great accomplishments but those bad things are what seem to take over your mind if you are not careful.  Things like “if I had only sold my stock a few months later, I would have doubled my money.”   Maybe you did not sell stock and you lost money rather than made it.  How about the, “I got a call to participate in an event, but said NO.”  Yes, I will never get a call back and missed an opportunity could have changed things forever.  It is hard to forget lost opportunities or missteps that cause you pain, but you cannot change the past.  You can only alter your future.

Maybe you went to work today feeling out of sorts and told your boss to take a hike or something worse.  You really did not mean it, but the impression you left is likely to stick forever in the bosses mind.  You may be able to dull the impression by future stellar performances, but the boss will not forget the past confrontation.  

Perhaps, you are starting your 5th company and decided to take a different route in financing the company because you were so diluted in the last 5 companies you will never make money.  The new path you selected for company #6 did not work and you must close the business.  You based decisions on solid information, but you never revisited the decisions or pivoted to change course.  You lost another one but for different reasons.  Are you going to stop short on corrective actions on the 7th one that may be highly successful?

Sitting at home and dwelling on the losses and forgetting your successes will only make you unhappy.  Being a little discontent is ok because it makes you strive harder to succeed, but when the discontent becomes excessive it may sway your forward decisions and negatively affect your business. 

Next time you find yourself dwelling on your past mistakes try a few of these:

Focus more on your successes – Everyone has them.  People tend to forget the positive and focus on the bad.  Determine how you achieved the successes and stay positive.

Talk with someone – Friends often see your successes and forget your failings.  Discussions can help bring you back to a positive attitude.

Exercise or meditate – Often working through your problems while doing something invigorating will change your perception or help you focus on a solution.

Help someone – When you focus on your problems, you become too self-aware.  Focusing on other peoples’ problems will help you be more appreciative of what have and you may feel better by helping.

If all else fails, try to remember, “Don’t be an Ass by focusing on the past.”  Maybe it will not help, but if you remember the photo, it might make you smile!