Go Back Before You Go Forward

By Anna Mitchell

What better time to take a step back and regain control of your life than right now? We are moving into the start of a new year. This is a great time to put last year’s regrets and disappointments behind you and grab the New Year by the horns. But wait … Before you dive off into a brand-new year, you need to take a moment to review last year. We need to go back before we go forward to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.

If you already have a training journal, then good for you! You are obviously prepared to put in the work it takes to make it to the top. If you have not set up a training journal, now would be a great time to take control of your life and your performance potential. Just pick up any kind of journal or exercise book and start working toward becoming a more consistent performer and a tougher competitor.

As you open your journal to tackle this task, prepare yourself to face the good, the bad and the ugly. We learn from all our experiences, both good and bad. Always start with the unpleasant experiences; this way you can always finish on a positive note and be ready to move on. 

Make a heading and think carefully about your wording. Remember that this is a learning exercise, not an attempt to crush your self-esteem. Try a heading such as Disappointments rather than Failures. No matter how bad the experience was, it was not a failure if you learned something. List all the experiences that did not turn out the way you hoped. Leave some room to write under or beside these “disappointments.”

Once you are satisfied with your list, look at each and write down what you remember about that experience. Try to think of one or two things you learned from that experience and what you would do differently next time. What changes could you have made to make that experience more positive? How can you avoid that outcome in the future? Why do you think it turned out the way it did?

Reviewing our previous disappointments can be an uncomfortable experience, so try to maintain a positive frame of mind by reassuring yourself that the past is in the past and this is a learning experience to ensure a brighter future. Try not to be too hard on yourself; this is not a punishment, but it is a necessary process for progress.

The next stage is considerably more pleasant as you make a similar list of your “achievements” or “highlights” for the year. Using the same format, list your positive experiences leaving room to reflect.

Take some time to build this list because it is from here that you may receive the encouragement and motivation you need to propel you into a positive New Year. Once again, look at each experience and write down what you learned. Why did that particular experience turn out so well? What did you do or not do that resulted in that particular positive outcome? What would you do again if the situation came up? Is there anything that you would change or do differently to make it better? 

Use the information that you have gathered above to shape your goals for 2012. Learn from your mistakes, and if you did something well … do it again. What did you learn from last year?

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