“Innovators don’t focus on the time that has elapsed, they anticipate the time that is yet to come!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Spend less time looking back – focus on looking forward!
There is no doubt that you can learn from reflecting back on what you did in the past, but you will likely learn more if you think about what you might learn in the future.
It’s not about what you used to know, but what you might yet come to know! It’s important that you consider the skills you’ve developed so far, but it is better that you think long and hard about the skills you will need for the next steps in the voyage. It’s helpful to take the time to understand what has worked for you in the past, but in a fast-changing world, you’ll find far more success by focusing on what might work in a far more complex and challenging future. It’s helpful to relive your past glories, but truth be told, most people won’t care about that – they want to see other new, more dramatic triumphs!
The only time you should be looking back is to see how far you’ve come.
That’s because your entire focus right now should be on the theme and mantra that I’ve adopted for my career and life – ‘reinvention!‘ You’ll only get to where you are going if you put in the effort to get there. And that usually involves new skills, new attitudes, a new outlook, a new mindset, and continually new efforts. That’s why my book released last year focused on this topic – Now What? Reinvention and the Role of Optimism in Finding Your New Future. Learn more!
When should you look back? To find the spiritual motivation to keep moving forward.
There will likely be moments in your past that might be painful or difficult to reconsider. In that context, looking back can give you regrets, but looking forward can give you the motivation to keep going! There is no doubt that looking forward will provide you with opportunities – so you will want to ignore the past. But looking back can give you the continuous power to look forward – it can be a powerful motivational force.
In February 2020, just as it became painfully obvious that the emerging global pandemic was going to cause massive upheaval in our lives, I wrote: “You’ll never know when you’ve reached rock bottom – until you’re back on top looking down!” Revisiting that post in the context of where we were at the time can be useful in the context of when to look forward, and when to look back!
February 26, 2020
I can’t decide if my quote today is about the stock market and economy, or is a recipe and pathway for personal growth.
So let’s make it about both!
Obviously, we are in new territory when it comes to our 11-year bull market – volatility reigns, fear is driving decisions, and uncertainty rules every agenda. The hardest thing is to know when we’ve reached the bottom of the downturn – when we had the big economic meltdown in October 2008, we didn’t really hit rock bottom until March 2009.
Much uncertainty is going to drive the global business agenda for quite some time – hence, the quote.
So what do you do if you don’t know if we are anywhere near the bottom of a business cycle? Focus on the future!
Coincidentally, March 2009 found me in Las Vegas with my largest ever audience from two global companies, speaking about the future and innovation – one group had 7,500 people in the room. The CEO of each organization wanted me to help people understand that they needed to focus on the future, not the present, NOW.
Lesson? Don’t wait to hit the bottom before you start thinking about the top!
From a personal perspective?
It’s pretty certain that you’ll face quite a few career setbacks throughout your lifetime: layoffs, reorganizations, downsizing, and more. It’s how you roll with the punches and pick yourself up that will define your future.
And obviously, you’ll go through waves of personal turmoil and anguish. Life is a roller coaster ride that takes us from the peaks of exhilaration to the depths of despair, often without knowing what is coming after the next climb.
The key? Your ability to recover from the lows is what will define your opportunity to experience the highs!