It tends to get quite a bad press, but looking back is no bad thing, actually - as long as we do it for the right reasons.
It’s the time of year when we send thoughts and prayers to those with small children (the clocks have gone back and sent all the rhythms AWOL and now it’s even darker and even more exhausting).
The rest of us potentially enjoyed an extra hour in bed (sorry, parents of young).
It’s also the time of year which gets me looking back in a more general sense. I’m not sure why.
Perhaps the falling leaves and colder evenings kickstart a wistful process in my brain.
It tends to get quite a bad press, but looking back is no bad thing, actually – as long as we do it for the right reasons.
⏰ Look back to see how far you’ve come
Honestly, it is such an important thing to do – take stock of where you are, how far you have come, and just what you have accomplished. We spend so much time thinking about what we still have to do, that we often forget to stop and appreciate what we have done. So, stop right now. Make a list of the things you’ve turned your hand to, the things you’ve accomplished, the progress you have made, the relationships you’ve developed. You’ll surprise yourself I promise.
⏰ Reflect on some wonderful memories
I love coming across an old photo, especially one of when my boys were younger (this is mainly because my memory is terrible and without photo evidence I have no idea of what has previously taken place). But – it is good for the soul to go down memory lane, to talk about loved ones that are no longer with us, places we’ve been, people we’ve shaped, experiences we have had. When we take time to remember these moments it lifts our spirits, gives us gratitude-fuel and reminds us of the bright spots that our life has experienced. Take a moment today to linger on a memory and allow yourself a touch of nostalgia.
⏰ Remind yourself of your mission
In the day-to-day mundaneness of stuff to do and people to please, we can easily forget what we are here for. What’s your personal purpose and life mission? Maybe you don’t yet know for sure. But looking back over the moments of brilliance and highlights of our story definitely give clues towards discovering this. Stop and write down 5 to 10 things that you are particularly proud of being involved with. Don’t use other people’s measures of success – only your own. It could be your children, a project, a work team, an award, who knows. Look for the key themes and links between these moments to help you spot your personal purpose. (By the way – purpose is one of my favourite topics and I am working hard on something related to this.. more to follow soon!)
⏰ Look back to let go
Sometimes we are held back from our bright future because we are still living within a season we should have left behind. There may be deeply painful events from your life that continue to shape you in the present, and perhaps not yet in the most positive of ways. There have been some pretty pivotal and challenging moments in my own life that I have needed help with processing, I am not ashamed to say that with the support of some insightful therapy I have made peace with some hurts and disappointments and can now see how they have shaped me and developed me rather than crushed me. There is no point pretending it didn’t happen, or wishing you lived someone else’s story. One of the most important things I have done in recent years is make my peace with the story that is mine. I can’t live anyone else’s life; I can’t erase the moments that I wish weren’t there. It is all part of my life and my story and wishing I had a different one (or some different chapters) is futile and holds me back from my future. Being truly thankful for the life I am in, warts and all, baggage and backstory, is key to being all I can be in the life I have ahead of me. (I could get into the importance of saying sorry and forgiveness here too, but I reckon I’ll save that for another day.)
So, the key message today – looking back isn’t all bad. It may well be just what you need to do.
Take ten minutes to take stock today. Give yourself a moment to reflect (use your camera roll if it helps!) and use the good feelings to generate some momentum in today – goodness knows we need the help right now!
P.S. I said last week that I’d tell you the answers to the following questions…
• Which country’s residents are most likely to donate to charity?
Top 5 = Myanmar, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom
• Which country’s residents are most likely to volunteer their time?
Top 5 = Indonesia, Liberia, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Australia