Using Hindsight As Your Foresight
The same failures you might look back on as your biggest mistakes are also your future mistakes if you don’t make a change. It isn’t enough to just notice past failures, because that is avoidance of working through them. It is foolish to talk like you were a different person two years ago, when it is likely that you are very similar to the person you were when you made some error. It isn’t appealing to accept this, but it has to be done if you want to find ways to prevent a similar occurrence.
Let’s say you made a huge error years ago that indirectly ended up costing you a lot of money. This could be a valid example for many folks. If this were the case, you would get no benefit in telling everyone about your failure to hold on to the money, or about how you lost it. On the other hand, you need to see what it was about you that caused the large loss of money. Maybe it came down to you being too shy to challenge someone when they left your assets in a precarious situation, or you were too afraid to fire an employee when your business was failing, and so you lost even larger sums in the process. Regardless of the situation, you need to see where your weakness was.
Relate Past Experiences To Today
Once you find out where you went wrong, look for similar examples in what you are doing today. This is more important than detailed reflection, because what you are doing today is what you will look back on soon enough. Maybe the same shyness is leading to you unable to maintain good relationships with your new customers, leading to you losing them. Possibly your lack of self-confidence based on your skill set is keeping you from trying a new opportunity, just like it did many years ago.
Take the failure of the past, and maneuver the new predicament the way you wanted the old failure to work out. In life, you get as many tries as it takes until you understand a concept. You can’t move past something, to the next step, until you understand the concept behind it. The goal of using the failure in this way is to open your mind up a bit more. Your hindsight is a source of mind-opening material. One other important part of this is to trust that you can outdo or work around the failure this time around. If you think you don’t have a chance, you might as well not take part in this, because when you think you can’t, you can’t.
Also, you have to avoid the scarcity mindset when you do this. If you feel like a past failure was your only real opportunity, then you’re not going to have any motivation to try again this time. Successful people never feel this way. Life makes sure you get tested with failures every so often, and the people with a scarcity mindset get weeded out along the way. On the other hand, if you feel like you have another shot, the failure can be overcome.
High School Example
Let’s say you were in high school, and remember not being able to socialize with others as you would have liked. If this means that you don’t have a chance to build a social group in college, work, in the public, or in some other fashion, then you are placing unnecessary limitations on your future. Obviously, you have a chance to turn the tables around. The social group you build now might be twice as good as the one you would have built up at that past time.
One other example that comes to mind is how you view your neighbors. Long ago, I had neighbors, which is normal, but I would do less than I desired, in order to not seem outlandish to them all. Now, with new neighbors, I realize the fleeting qualities of each set of neighbors, and how they can change in an instant. It makes no sense to hold back on doing something around your residence because of how it might make you look to a neighbor. This is a wasteful thought process to have. I use that hindsight to remind me of what to do these days.
There might be some folks that want you to give up when you fail in some way, as they hope that the failure keeps you down. These are the folks you might want to remember when you feel like giving up hope that you can do better the second time around.
Photo by Suburban Bloke