The Past Can Be the Best Teacher

Do you have regrets? I recently met with a woman who felt that her depression robbed her of her choices. She had an administrative position, but would have preferred helping people on the front lines. She felt that her depression had kept her from making the career choice to deal with people. She wondered if, in her late 50s, she still had the time to make a different career choice.

Her situation paralleled a recovering alcoholic in his late 30s. He had eight years of sobriety and shared his frustration about being “behind” with his goals. He was lamenting how his life would have been different had he completed his school without being in and out of treatment centers. He talked about wishing he were further along socially, financially, and in his business. He wished he could have accomplished in his 20s what he had in his 30s. He felt that his alcoholism had stolen those years from him. He had difficulty getting past the resentment of his own life choices.

In my work with people, it’s imperative for both of them to recognize that they are where they are today because of their disabilities or disorders. The School of Hard Knocks has taught them a lot and created their individual strengths. If a client has a dream, there is absolutely no reason they can’t create a realistic plan to make it happen, no matter what their circumstances. We take a hard look at what might need to be modified if someone has circumstances like age, depression, children, elderly parents, etc., that may impact their life choices and dreams. But we use those special circumstances to the client’s advantage. It is not a deficit; it’s a strength.

Is there a dream that you wish you could pursue? Have you let circumstantial factors interfere with attaining your dream? If you are shaking your head in agreement, try the following:
• Write out what dream you would like to pursue.
• Create a clear-cut, detailed mission statement, identifying what you need to do.

Once you have your personal vision, it is important to recognize your own personal worth so that you can use your intrinsic character strengths to help actualize the vision. To do this, create two columns. The first column should identify personal strengths that have formed the person you are today. The other column will list action steps you must take to get closer to your goals. Do you know what you are willing to do to create your dream? Write them down. Be very specific.

It may not be necessary to reinvent the wheel. You will likely want to seek out people who have accomplished similar goals. Do your homework. Find a mentor or role model and spend some time talking to them. Most successful people have been through their own trials and tribulations, which can be an inspiration to you.

Remember, your life history or herstory has made you the unique person you are. Regrets only serve to keep you distanced from your goals. You can’t control what has happened in your past, but you need to appreciate all the wisdom your past has brought you. I always tell my clients that the more mistakes they have made in the past, the more they have learned. Wisdom is the key to success.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.