Need motivation? Look backwards to go forwards

Many of us are feeling it: the final big push to the festive season and the end of yet another year. I feel like this year was the fastest one on record, don't you?

It's so easy to get caught up in the rush, push, shove of everyday life, isn’t it? This time of year is crazy busy, but it happens all year long too. And if you spend any time online, you'll notice the social space is just as hectic and high pressured as the real world space some days. We're all shouting to be heard and running around like hungry ants at a picnic.

I was really feeling it this morning. I do my best thinking while getting ready, and this morning I was mentally running through the list of things I needed to do, places I needed to get, ideas I needed to work on, and so on. I was so far into the future, chased by fear and perceived limitations, like lack of time, lack of inspiration, whatever. I was thinking of all the things I would need to get done to feel like I had done ‘enough’ today – plus, all the things I would need to get done this week, this month, and then the next month and the month after that when our house will fill with visitors. 

And all this thinking and mind-churning made me feel a bit sick, a bit queasy. Stress hormone cocktails going off in my body no doubt as I charged headlong into an impossible list of ‘to do’ and ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ ...

So, I tried desperately to slow the train down and to flip my thinking to everything I had already done  everything I had already achieved to get to this point, today. I stopped thinking about 'to dos' and started thinking about 'have dones'.

For example:

·         After three months of redeveloping my online space, I had launched this new blog ...

·         For months I have been madly trying to lose weight, and when I measured my waist this morning I had lost 4 inches. If I hadn't stopped to think about how far I had come instead of focusing only on how far I had to go (with weight loss), I wouldn't know this. Sure, my jeans felt loser, but I had no idea that translated into a real number: 4 inches.

·         We'd also just pulled off one of the best family long weekend adventures we have had since arriving in the US. It takes a lot of work to get five people on the road for a four-day car trip into a different state, and we did it.

I reckon there is so much attention on the future (where we want to be) and loads of scolding to live in the present (where we probably should be) but I think, surely it is ok sometimes to look back into the past and see where we have been? How far we have come? All the things we have done/achieved/completed to get to this point, today?

Sometimes, a little ‘past searching’ may be the perfect foil to all the ‘future tripping’ and ‘to do’ list stressing.

Looking back certainly made me feel better about moving forward today. On a sluggish morning, a little peek in the rear view mirror made me more enthusiastic about starting my engine for a new day and week ahead. Because I had already come so far. And simply recognising that fact fired me up enough to move forward.

Do you ever take stock of how far you have come rather than focusing solely on how far you think you have to go? I like the idea.

Natalie Bartley