“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see”, is a famous quote that goes by Winston Churchill. This thought has been validated by various life examples and studies, of which one such study conducted by Dr. El Swamy concluded that leaders who took the time to look back rather than jumping onto the next opportunity were more successful than those who jumped right in without reflecting on their past. In today’s fast paced environment, we’re constantly looking to hustle onto our next challenge before the dust has settled on the previous one. While this ensures a steady momentum, it can often do more harm than good when recovering from a loss or an episodic stressor.
Looking back simply means that before we start planning for the future having experienced a disruption or failure, we must pause, reflect on our past to learn from our experiences, review our placement and plan our way ahead without any inhibitions or bias. Reviewing our placement inspires self improvement and personal growth that empowers us to power through any new challenges that lie ahead.
If you’re looking for ways to review your past as your way forward plan, here are 5 techniques that can help:
- Chart out your life’s timeline
Outline your life’s timeline into three sections: the first, second and third section of your life and list down the associated milestones for each. You can do this graphically or by making a list. Review and assess where you stand on this timeline and to what degree or effect does the problem at hand affect your life ahead. This exercise will help you put things in perspective and see your problems objectively.
- Identify significant events or people who have made a big impact
Looking at each section on your timeline, identify people or events that have had a significant impact on your life. Use keywords that will help you anchor them. Each of these experiences will have a takeaway lesson. Try writing it down. This exercise will help you keep your focus on the connections that matter and eliminate occurrences that don’t.
- Find patterns and meaningful connections
As you note down your stories and experiences, find a common pattern or a connection by seeing events on a macro scale. You can ask your closed ones to help you notice your patterns if you cannot see it. See the big picture and capture insights.
- Align with your greater good
Having studied your life patterns, ask yourself how is this life pattern going to affect your future? Is there a specific pattern that you want to replicate, change, or do differently? Find the anomalies and opportunities to align your life’s journey with your greater good.
- Create your roadmap
As you review your life’s choices from this perspective, understand what are the lessons that you can carry forward to upgrade your professional or personal life? What are your biggest takeaways? Create your own roadmap to the future.
Everyone evolves along life’s journey, some in ways that are beneficial, others in ways that restrict their potential. The point is to grow and evolve, not to repeat the same stories and diminish our possibilities. Personal growth and wisdom come from being able to look at the past and reframe and revise our stories so that we continue to evolve for a changing future.