January 3, 2008

You've Come A Long Way, Baby!

Well, another New Year's Day has come and gone. You've probably been reflecting on your life a lot lately, if only because this is the time that many other people choose to do exactly that! But where have those thoughts taken you?

A Brighter Future From A Darker Past
When people are planning a brighter future, they often find themselves looking at a dark past. Why do you want to get a new job? Isn't it because your current job just isn't satisfying you any more and the work is now longer worth the money they pay you? Why do you want to lose weight? Isn't it because you've looked in the mirror and were disgusted by what you've found? Why do you want to quit smoking? Isn't it because you've become shocked and humbled by your lack of self-control and have begun to notice some frightening health problems?

Since so many of our goals are predicated on a dark past, setting goals can be very discouraging. But this discouragement is unavoidable. You cannot set a path in a direction you want to go until you understand why you don't want to be where you are.

Half The Motivation
The question is, how do you motivate yourself to move in that new direction? Certainly the need to leave those negative emotions behind you can provide a lot of energy to fuel your march toward a new you. But the nudge of a negative past only provides half of the motivation you will need to accomplish your goal.

This, I believe, lies at the heart of all failed New Year's resolutions. How can you step into a brighter future with confidence if you have seen yourself only as a failed specimen? The answer is that it cannot be done. The negative energy of the past is not enough to create a new you. You must also discover your glorious past.

A Chance Discovery
I am frequently drawn to journaling. I don't journal consistently, but about every six months I feel the urge to write down my assessment of who I am, what I'm doing and what I want.

One day, after writing a very negative and frustrated entry in my journal, I happened to flip back and read an entry from nearly 5 years before.

As it turned out, that was also a frustrated and desperate entry. But I was shocked to find that every single problem that I complained about in that entry had been resolved over the next 5 years!

I laughed when I read that I feared I would never be able to quit smoking, because I knew that I did eventually quit -- and easily at that! I was ashamed to be a college dropout and believed that the opportunity had passed me by forever, but I returned to college only a year after I wrote that and eventually graduated. I was frustrated with my career, but I finally found exactly the kind of job I was looking for.

That journal entry was liberating!

Finding a Shining Past
By realizing how easily I had overcome things that at one time seemed insurmountable to me, I found that my confidence grew by a factor of ten! Instantly, I found the things that I had just finished complaining about in my journal's newest entry were no longer a burden. I knew I could overcome obstacles, even if they seemed impossible to me, because I had already done it in the past.

If you are having trouble finding the motivation to succeed at your resolutions this year, do yourself a favor. Take a moment right now and search for your bright, shining past. Yes, there are things about the past that you do not like.

But force yourself also to recognize that you have already come a long way. You will find moments in your history that show you at your best, able to confidently face great challenges and overcome them with ease.

And that bright, shining past will give you the power to build the brighter future you seek.

Also At Babblermouth:
A Map That's "Good Enough"
Financial Freedom Series 1 -- Cause and Effect
A Mentor For The Hopelessly Introverted

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