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How to Look Back to Move Forward

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How to Look Back to Move Forward

As I approached my car from a distance, I silently cursed. The car parked next to me looked like it was so close, it was questionable if I’d be able to open my door. Imagine my surprise when there was more room than I’d anticipated because that car didn’t have a side-view mirror. In fact, both side-view mirrors were missing.

I feel like I know a lot of people that, if they were cars, their side mirrors would be missing too. They refuse to look back. “Never back, only forward,” they say. There are a gazillion quotes about never looking back. Take two seconds, and Google will be happy to oblige you with countless options. However, understanding what’s behind you and moving forward are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I’d argue it’s imperative.

The car parked next to mine was not safe on the road. You have to be able to look back to move forward.

I get it. It’s a car, and when it’s moving, it’s most often in one direction, forward. Like you, a car is designed to move from Point A to Point B in drive, not reverse. Still, think about the purpose of those mirrors…

You need to see what’s behind you.

What if you want to change lanes, and a car is zooming in your direction? What about the other critical purpose of those mirrors? They are there to help illuminate your blind spots. Parallel parking? Backing into a space? You need to see what’s behind you and hidden from sight to reach your objective.

A Guide to Look Back to Move Forward with More Passion, Purpose, and Productivity

It’s the end of the year and the end of a decade in a few weeks. Before you leap into your planning and goals for the next quarter, year, or the next ten, give yourself an hour to look back. Find a quiet space, grab a piece of paper, your journal, or Evernote, and settle in to look back to leap forward.

Way to Go!

What were my biggest successes last year? Personal and Professional.

Did I take the time to celebrate?

What did I learn from each one?

Me at My Best

When did I feel at my absolute best?

What project made me so engaged time flew by?

Did I invest time and energy into a passion? (Something that I love to do just because)

What moment stands out as the pinnacle? Elaborate: Where were you, who was there with you, what were you doing, etc.)

What five words describe me at my best?

Wish I Could Do-Over

Did I let myself down?

What did I think would be great, but fell flat?

What can I learn from that experience?

This year, what did I avoid that I should have embraced?

How and when did I hold myself back?

List my go-to excuses. 

Which relationships needed more time and attention than I gave them?

What dreams did I put on hold? Why?

10,000 Foot View

Where did my time go? / How did I allocate my time?

Did I put down my tech enough?

Did I meet the goals I’d set for myself?

Was I consistently being the person who I want to be?

How often did I believe in myself?

Did I set effective boundaries?

Am I leading my life or running on a hamster wheel?

What one change do I most need to make now?

Change happens when we understand not only where we’re going but why and where we came from. Pretending we should never look back does not serve as a powerful springboard to move forward – learning does.

Don’t be like that car, driving around with broken mirrors. If you haven’t looked in yours for a while, your time is now.

Here’s to a successful and happy year ahead. If I can ever be of support to you as you look back and move forward, let’s talk.

Related: How to Avoid the One Size Fits All Solution Fail

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