"Life is like an ice cream cone, you have to lick it a little at a time."
-- CHARLIE BROWN
Our world is composed of only three time zones -- the past, the present and the future. Focusing exclusively on the past or the future will get us into trouble and render us ineffective while we are in the present. All of our power to accomplish, to be successful, make decisions and to be in control of our destiny, lies in each succession of present moments.
You have no power to change your past. However, you do have the power in the present moment to change your thoughts, feelings and attitudes about bygone events. In effect, you can choose either to "react" or to "respond" to your past.
Reacting to your past, is the process of allowing your thoughts to trigger and stir up the same negative emotions about past events that you didn't like when you experienced them the first time.
Responding to your past, is the process of accepting where you are in the present as an okay place to be, and then dealing with your past as nothing more than already lived events that have no direct power over you other than that which you give them.
Which is the easiest way to run a hundred yards: Pulling a wagon loaded with two hundred pounds of bricks, or totally unimpeded by anything dragging along behind you?
Here are some strategies to help you design and control your future:
Let go of the past -- To take control of your future you must begin with a clean slate. That means dumping the garbage of the past and its hold on you. Don't let your past hold you prisoner. Your past can be either a quagmire of negative emotions that you drag into your future or a solid platform of opportunities for future accomplishments.
Accept yourself exactly where you are -- The rapid accomplishment of your dreams and goals requires acknowledging and accepting where you are, what you are, who you are and what you have done with your life. This doesn't mean becoming satisfied or complacent. On the contrary, accepting where you are gives you control over your future, because you are operating from your only point of power -- the present moment.
Keep your focus on the present -- Whenever you find yourself caught up in the emotions of the past, including, anger, guilt and self-doubt, say to yourself or even out loud, "I am where I am supposed to be." Get back to business in the present by repeating this statement time and time again until it happens almost automatically. Eventually, through constant repetition of this process, you will lose all emotional attachment to the past.
Use the past as a reason for action -- Action is always in order when you have experienced a loss or failure. But when action is needed the most, that's the time when your tendency might be to slow down or even quit. To move on toward success, you must do the opposite of what you might first feel, even the opposite of what those around you might expect. Once you are down, how you got there is no longer relevant. So, let it go and jump into action to get where you want to be.
It's your choice, victim or victor -- victim of your past or victor over your future. You can choose either, but if success is your goal, letting go of the past is your only option.
Accept yourself exactly where you are no matter what the circumstances. Where you are is where you are supposed to be and it's okay. And where you are going is up to you and it starts this very day.
Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant from Northern Utah. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.