How Reflecting On Your Past Can Prepare You For The Future

Alex Hamm March 14, 2014 1
How Reflecting On Your Past Can Prepare You For The Future

A lot of people have told me throughout my life that it is important to learn from my mistakes. I could not agree more. When you make a mistake it is vital that you take a mental note of that so that you do not make that mistake again.

Mistakes are perfectly okay. In fact they are inevitable. But they are only okay to accept as long as you are learning from each one and growing as a person.

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I want to take it one step further. Instead of just thinking about a mistake you made, and maybe engraining the right way to do it next time in your mind so you’ll be prepared, I like the idea of reflecting on everything that has happened in your past and taking that into account to be better prepared for your future.

That last sentence may have been a little bit confusing, and it sounded a bit awkward as I typed it, but let me explain.

Most people do not take into account the majority of things that happened to them in a day. They just go through life and never take the time to think about past situations and experiences. Unless of course something bad happened. If we make a mistake we tend to give that a lot of thought long afterwards.

But what about our successes? I’m not talking about huge success like getting promoted or winning the world series. I’m talking about minor successes. Little things that happen to you throughout the day that you may not think are worth giving a second thought to.

You don’t think it’s necessary to take a few minutes to reflect on what has happened at the end of each day, and allow that to help you better prepare for the future.

Introducing…Reflective Thinking. I learned this concept from one of my mentors John C. Maxwell in his book Thinking For A Change. Maxwell says that reflective thinking, that is taking some time to reflect on past experiences, is vital to future success.

Most people do not have the energy to think back to experiences that may have impacted their life in a small way. They like thinking about the big things. But the thing is, the things that make a huge impact on our lives are usually just a bunch of small things strung together. And if you want to be able to recreate that huge impact (or avoid it if it was a bad impact), your going to have consistently think about the small things that happen each day.

That is the basis of reflective thinking.

Taking the time to reflect on experiences you have had, people you met, memories you created, things that you learned, successes you had, and yes, mistakes you made as well, etc. Reflect on what happened to you after your day that may have had an impact on your life.

This type of thinking will allow you to be much more prepared for future situations because you are taking the time to learn about yourself, other people, and the world. If you don’t take note of an experience and reflect on what you may have learned, you are missing out big time.

Now I’m not saying you need to dedicate 2 hours a day to reflect on your day. But maybe start with 5 minutes at the end of your day. Get out a pad and pencil and write down a few things that you think is worthy of remembering and taking note of.

Keep your notes safe, and save them all. Also, if something happens to you during the day that gets your emotions riled up, or you think could impact your life, take a minute or two on the spot to reflect on what just happened and how it is going to affect your life, or maybe someone else’s life. Write things down if you need to.

Eventually, John C. Maxwell suggests more than just daily reflection. He says you should be doing a weekly reflection, monthly reflection, and even annual reflection. This is why taking notes is important because when you get to this point, you’ll want to be looking back at all your notes to reflect on how your year went, and ways that you have grown.

This way, you can better be prepared for the future, and set goals based on how you want to grow in the following year. This concept is important to grasp, and I highly suggest you grab a copy of Maxwell’s Thinking For A Change.

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