When You Look Back Over Your Life and Think Things Over
Birthdays come and birthdays go.
With each birthday, what do you think about?
If you are like me, you think a great deal about the past and all that you wish you had done.
When you look back over your life and think things over, do you wish you had made different choices, had different opportunities, or could change parts of your life?
The older I get the more I consider such questions. The older, wiser, more mature me has learned that we can wish all we want; we cannot change our past. We can, however, change our present and our future, based on the past.
Go into the Past to Frame the Future
I will briefly let you into my past. In doing so I will share what I wish was different. From there I will share how my past has molded my future.
I did stuff as a kid that I would NEVER do as an adult. For example, after a storm I would collect big juicy earth worms. I also sizzled army ants to death. That is what happened with a sunny day and a kid with a magnifying glass. If there was something to climb, I climbed it. It made no difference that I was always afraid to go back down. As an adult, I wish I was as carefree and willing to take risks as I was in the past when I did not have a care in the world.
Unlike what we hear about millennials, I respected authority. I respected them so much that when it came to choosing a major, I took the advice of my mechanical drawing teacher. He was an adult. I believed he knew best. Therefore, I took his suggestion when I selected engineering as my major. I wish I had exposure to different possibilities. My younger sister, for example was in Inroads. I wish I had known about that organization.
You could not tell me anything. I graduated with a degree in psychology with no thoughts of doing anything in the field. I had a college degree from a great university. As long as I had a degree, I could get a job. I got a job, too. I also accumulated a lot of debt. There were times when I was robbing Peter to pay Paul. Years later I was wishing I had set my eyes on a career rather than just a job.
30s and Wiser
A switch turned on in my thirties. I changed my financial situation. In fact, I developed OCD when it came to my credit. I also focused on finding a career. The goal of finding a career went well into my forties. While focusing on my career, I did what my parents had always told me to do. I worked hard. But, unlike my elementary years, I also had a lot of fears. Mainly I was afraid of failing. Too bad I had my head down working so hard and was afraid of everything.
Can You have a Mid-Life Crisis at 45?
One day I found myself sitting in my office cubicle crying. I was working, but I still did not have a career, promotions had stopped coming, and I had no clue of my purpose in life. I started wishing I knew my purpose. More importantly, I wondered how life would have been if the past had been different.
Older, but Wiser
I do not know if I was having a mid-life crisis at 45, but I knew something had to change. Sitting in my cubicle crying certainly was not going to change anything.
So what did I do? I got outside of my cubicle walls. Instead of focusing on the past and all that I had wish I had done, I started focusing on what I could control.
The one thing I could control for sure were my thoughts. I told myself to do even when afraid.
Also, I focused less on what I did not have and what was not happening to make time for creating opportunities. To create opportunities meant getting out of my comfort zone, raising my hand to do what scared me, and taking risks.
With each small step, any new action I made, I built courage and confidence.
What I shared with you above I can share because I have grown. It feels great to be older, but wiser.
Be Happy with Getting Older: Use the Past to Frame the Future
You see, all the wishing in the world was not ever going to change my life.
None of us can change the script of our past, but we most certainly can use our past to frame our future. As an almost fifty year old woman, I understand that now.
All that I wished I could be, I can be and do. For example, I can be more willing to take risks. I can be more willing to put myself in position for more exposure. And because I was willing to take action to change, I am living my purpose.
I have the opportunity to impact the lives of others. To me there is no greater purpose. And hey, one day I will make a career of helping people to change their attitudes and their lives.
So be happy with getting older. As you age you learn to use the past to frame your future.
It's your turn: Now when you look back over your life and think things over, how will you use your past to frame your future? Take the lessons from your past to frame your future. Share in the post comments.