People magazine recently asked the U.S. first lady, Michelle Obama, if she could go back in time, what words of wisdom would she give to her younger self. “If I could give my younger self just one piece of advice, it would be this: Stop being so afraid! That’s really what strikes me when I look back – the sheer amount of time I spent tangled up in fears and doubts that were entirely of my own creation,” said the First Lady.
This is an excellent practice for all of us, especially as we crest into a new year. Looking back can have one of two effects – it can either move you forward or it can hold you back.
Back and Forth
When you look back, it is important to keep your focus forward. Think of driving a car – looking in the rear view mirror on occasion, when you have already established your forward focus, increases your safety and your forward movement. If, on the other hand, you look behind you while you are moving forward in a fashion that is haphazard or while you are trying to move into another lane, they you run the risk of swerving off course. It’s important to establish your forward movement first. Take a moment and write out your vision for yourself. Write down three things you have done in the past week to move yourself towards that vision. Then write down three things you have done in the past month and the six months and the past year to move yourself forward. That will keep your focus straight ahead on the lane you want to be driving in.
All Grown Up
A new monthly series in the UK’s The Guardian asks women in leadership to write an article on advice to their younger selves. Cookery entrepreneur Hari Ghotra wrote in November 2014 that she is fulfilling her dream of bringing Indian food to the masses with an online Indian cookery school. “I would encourage my younger self to savour the good ones (experiences) and learn from the not so good ones (experiences).”
Looking back farther than just the year, into the lives of our younger selves can bring about an understanding of the pitfalls that we keep tripping into. First Lady Obama recalled a habit of doubting herself while entrepreneur Ghotra recounted that ups and downs in her past should be viewed as learning steps. This new year’s take some time to see what lessons from your younger self can assist you in building the skills that will bring you success in your business. How can you apply the lessons of your past to the plans you have for your future? Enjoy the trip back but remember to bring back only what you need to keep you moving forward.