Looking back and learning from the past is a bit like time travel (well, without the fun, Back to the Future style ACTUAL time travel…)
But it is fun – and can be very beneficial.
To help us look back – and forward - imagine there are three versions of you. There’s the past you, the current you and the future you.
Let’s call them the yesterday you, the today you and the tomorrow you.
To illustrate how this works here’s a couple of examples.
When you go out and have a few too many drinks and stay out far too late – the today you is having a great time but the tomorrow you will suffer.
Conversely, when you diet to lose weight or workout in the gym – the today you puts in extra effort but the tomorrow you will thank you for it.
It’s the same with our work life.
Goal setting and planning
By looking forward and setting goals on where we want be in terms of career, health, family and more we can see what we need to do to get there.
We can see what the today you needs to do, to make sure the tomorrow you achieves what we have set out.
Taking the time for professional development - attending a course or program, learning a new software package or reading about the latest developments in our industry will put extra time pressure on the today you but the tomorrow you will reap the benefits.
So think about where you want to be in the future – what does your tomorrow you life look like? How does that compare to the today you? What are the steps you need to get there?
Sometimes, looking back can help too.
Reflection – not obsession!
What can the yesterday you teach you about today, or tomorrow?
Or to put it another way – if you could talk to your yesterday you what would you advise them? Sometimes thinking about it in this way helps us to distil the learnings from past experiences.
The idea of reflection on the past is not to dwell on every ‘sliding door’ moment and obsess about what could have been– that’s not healthy!
But you can reflect on the way you handled things, examine what you did right and wrong so you can do better next time.
'Fail early and often' is a saying that is based on these same principles. Failing early and often gives you plenty of opportunities to learn from your mistakes and make incremental improvements (like the continuous improvement ‘Kaizen’ article we spoke about in last month’s newsletter).
So don’t let your yesterday you go to waste, learn from their experience so your tomorrow you can do just a little better next time.
And next time you’re out for a big night, spare just a thought for the long suffering, tomorrow you…