‘If I could go back to high school, I would do things a lot differently.’ ‘I would be rich today if I had known how to invest five years ago.’ ‘I wish I would have started working out six months ago!’
Sound familiar? Have you ever thought anything similar to this? I think we all have at some point and there is nothing wrong with doing that. It is very important to reflect on life and the things we have done or those we haven’t. Where it becomes a problem is when we become victims. We accept the shortcomings of the past as if they are destined to repeat and don’t move forward.
There is another way of looking at things. Look ahead five years from now. Where do you want to be? How do you want to see yourself? Basically, what are you going to wish that you had started or knew five years ago (today)? We all have a desire to be successful in certain areas but seldom do anything other than wish.
Once you have a picture of what the finish line will looks like, determine what path you have to take to reach the end. What are those landmarks you must reach along the way? Create your plan to get to each of those points and get there one step at a time. We do this all the time and don’t even realize it. For example, going after a Bachelors degree. This four year degree has specific things required to be completed before we can walk the stage. We have the ability to choose when and where we complete these courses. When we take a course we don’t like or one that is hard, we know it is part of the journey and keep going.
A lot of what we do in life follows a similar pattern. Our time in basic training and tech school was laid out with a finish line and things required to cross it. Our 13 years of elementary, middle and high school. Our military career paths have similar milestones too. This structure is very comfortable to us; however, not as much when we create the finish line ourselves. We get excited and feel accomplished when we achieve a long-term goal, but hate having that pressure placed upon us and that is why it is so difficult for us to set these types of goals on our own.
Now that we understand this, think of that future you (four years from now) and what is the one thing you hope to see. For me, it is working in a new career where I get to serve others so they can grow. My next step is finding an after Air Force career field that would allow me to do this and then research how to get my foot in the door. This is something I picture vividly and when times look doubtful or difficult, I am going to keep picturing the finish line in my mind knowing I will cross it as long as I keep putting in the effort.
If we continue to wallow in the past we will never be who we want to be or who we are capable of becoming. It is like driving a car and only looking into the rear-view mirror. Rip that mirror off of your windshield and look to the future! See you at the finish line.