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By Mark Brown

Remember Uncle Rico on the movie "Napoleon Dynamite"?*  

"If coach would have put me in the fourth quarter, we'd have been state champions. No doubt. No doubt in my mind. You better believe things would've been different. I'd have gone pro, I'd be making millions of dollars and living in a big ol' mansion somewhere. You know, soaking it up in a hot tub with my soul mate."

That was just a silly movie, of course, but almost everyone lives life like this.  

We're so consumed with "what might have beens" and "if onlys" that it drags our performance down in the now and limits our vision for the future.  

I've got a friend who reminds me of Uncle Rico. He's still mad at his high school baseball coach.  

He's convinced that if the coach had just played him more he would have gotten scholarships. With scholarships he would have become a rich and famous professional baseball player.  

It's downright tragic how he's let it affect everything else he's done in life.  

One of the biggest reasons we hold on to the past is that it gives us excuses for why we're not achieving what we know we're capable of.

We hold on tightly to our baggage from the past because we know that the second we let it go we're responsible for our own results. We can no longer blame our parents, high school coaches, our spouses, the market, etc.

Regret for our past actions can also burden us and limit our results.  

We play our mistakes on the movie screen of our minds over and over again, reliving the pain, allowing it to influence how we think about ourselves.  

"I'm not good enough. I'll never be good enough. That was so stupid!"

One of the best books I've ever read is Half Time: Moving From Success to Significance by Bob Buford. Among many other profound insights, he says this about dwelling on past mistakes:

"It doesn't help much to dwell on those things you did or didn't do in the past. At the time you did the very best you could, given your knowledge and experience...Don't blame yourself for good intentions that might have been applied improperly."

Later in the book he adds,

"Since you cannot go back and undo the past mistakes, you have two options. You can dwell on them and be consumed with the effects they may have had on your family and career, or you can come to terms with them through grace, accepting them as poignant markers from which you can learn something valuable for the second half.  

"Half time is not about beating yourself up for what you did not do, but for coming to terms with your failures and recognizing that you live under grace."

Relinquish your excuses and accept full responsibility for your life. The more responsibility you take, the more power you can have, and the better your results will be.

Learn from your mistakes, but don't dwell on them. Focus on making your present as miraculous as it can be, and also on crafting a compelling vision of your future.  

What's done is done. But will be is up to you.




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