We're all focused on the importance of looking forward rather than back. In fact, we're taught not to look at the past very often with statements like "you can never go back". Well, now and then it's not a bad exercise to take an hour and think through your past choices. It's good to get a little retrospective as long as the effort is creating some positive directions rather than regret. The difference is thinking about what you "would" have done as opposed to what you "should" have done.
Looking back gives you a chance to recognize how far you've come. Taking some time to examine your past actions gives you a chance to think about what you learned and apply the knowledge to your future choices.
It was a quote from John Huston that got me thinking about this. In his quote, he hits primarily on things he'd choose to do differently in his personal life, but I'm suggesting it applies to ANY of the key decisions you've made.
As a grandfather, I'm entitled to a few words of advice to the young, based upon my long and unvarying experience as a transgressor. I can sum them up with these answers to the oft-repeated question,
"What would you do or not do if you had it all to do over again?"
I would spend more time with my children.
I would make my money before I spent it.
I would learn the joys of wine instead of hard liquor.
I would not smoke cigarettes when I had pneumonia.
I would not marry the fifth time.
May is my sixth anniversary of starting Marketing Essentials International, a consulting company that became the umbrella for a series of different projects I had always wanted to do. Early on was Skip's Summer School, The Akron Photo Series, Ghostrighters, GoingPro (co-authored with Scott Bourne) and two blogs laying the groundwork for what would become SkipCohenUniversity.
In my own situation, there are things I could have done differently, but, for the most part, there's little I'd change. My biggest "look-back" moments come with things involving social media. I would have paid more attention to what the "next big thing" was going to be. I would have been more active in social media sooner and understood the parameters of reach better using Facebook and Twitter. Now I'm trying to understand the reach of Google+ better along with Pinterest, Instagram and the list goes on and on. Also on the list, I would have become a Mac guy sooner!
Then comes a list of personal issues, which we all have. In my case, everything has a foundation in simply bad communication, but even with bad decisions, they still have some very distinct "Aha" moments and lay a foundation for the future.
My point is an easy one this morning - take the time just to examine the things you're doing today and use the past to understand why. Manage your business and life with a positive outlook on the future and use things you could have done better in the past as learning steps towards a more solid tomorrow.
Most important of all, give yourself a giant pat on the back. You're here today working to be a success in something you're passionate about and as long as you're waking up with a smile, you're on the right track!
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