When I took the StrengthsFinder test, I found that my number one strength is “futuristic”. It’s truly my blessing and my curse. I always want to live in the future, curious as to what’ s next, but I have forced myself to analyze my past. Why? Because it’s necessary. Of course we don’t want to dwell on the negativity from our past because we can’t change what has already been done, but we can continually learn from it and change our lives from this one simple practice.
Here are the three main reasons I believe looking at your past is one of the most important things you can do:
1. Looking at your past helps ensure that bad history doesn’t repeat itself.
We all have times in life that didn’t turn out so well. The way we can all turn these negative experiences into positive ones is by not being afraid to look at the past. Although it may not be comfortable, we can work to not only look at the past, but to learn from it. James Burke said, “Why should we look to the past in order to prepare for the future? Because there is nowhere else to look.” We should look at both mistakes in the past and victories and take advantage of them, because we can.
But, the only way to know that bad history won’t repeat itself is by making changes now so the future won’t turn out the same way. Want to change your future? Begin making better choices right now.
2. Looking at your past gives you incredible stories to share with others.
Looking at your past not only improves your memory, but making this a regular practice helps you to never forget where you came from. I will again recommend journaling to be able to remember moments, but some of the best stories that I share now are from the far past. This is fun for me, because I can see what obstacles I have overcome to get where I am today. You have had to do the same thing in your own life, and it’s in these experiences that make you who you are.
Every time you don’t allow your past to be used in some way, you rob others from experiences you have already encountered. You already have valuable insight on situations that others may encounter along their journey, so you might as well begin using it for good. Share your past to help someone else’s future.
3. Looking at your past lets you know what you can improve.
Looking at your past tells you how well you have been working in your strengths and weaknesses. You’ve probably heard the definition of insanity before — it’s doing the same things over and over again expecting different results. Some people do this without even realizing it, and when they do this they get stuck in a monotonous cycle that leads to a rut.
Looking at the past in this way will tell you if you have been working towards your goals or not. Based on this analyzation you will have a good idea of what kind of improvements need to be made. If you have been working towards your goals, then that’s amazing. Keep it up! But if you’ve been heading the opposite direction, then by all means make the needed improvements now instead of “someday”. (That may be my least favorite word ever.)