I feel like too many times we look back with regret at what we HAVEN’T done in the past.
And that does you little good.
“If I had only started playing guitar 2 years ago when my friend did, I would have been so good by now.”
“If I had only stuck to my diet 6 months back I’d be in such great shape today.”
“If I had only spent the last year being productive instead of spending most of my time distracting myself with games/TV, I would be so much more successful.”
What if instead, you re-framed your thinking, from feeling regret and guilt about the past, to imagining the possibilities of the future?
“Just imagine how great I could get at guitar if I play consistently for the next 2 years?”
“Just imagine how great shape I can be in if I eat healthy for the next 6 months?
“Just imagine how successful I will become if I spend the next year being more productive and spending less time distracting myself?
What if in addition to re-framing your mindset from past to future-focused, you also focused more on what actionable steps you can take in the present?
“What specific steps can I take today to improve my guitar skills?”
“What is a healthy meal I can have for dinner tonight to get on the path towards getting in better shape?”
“What is 1 thing I can do today that is productive?”
Summing it up
I think both the future-focused and present-focused mindsets are helpful.
Future-focused thinking is helpful for determining your long-term goals/priorities, as well as for inspiration.
The present-focused mindset is helpful for forming more specific plans, and achieving moment-to-moment satisfaction.
Past-focused thinking has it’s place too (e.g., assessing past performance can help inform future changes in your strategy). But when you are focusing too much on the past in a negative way (regret, guilt, shame at what you did), that is less helpful.
And you are better off focusing more on the future and the present.